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Forums > Expressive movement / costumes and props > Choreogrophing a Routine- Guidelines, Tips?

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Posted:Okay so hopefully this is the right forum and right place to discuss this. I searched and couldn't find a thread specifically on the how to's of choreographing a routine.

In the past I really didn't have much interest in a set routine, but after viewing certain routines that, to my view, must have been choreographed, and also looking at the difference between free-form and choreographed movements, I've decided to undertake a choreographed routine. I mean just looking at some of yuta's videos, obviously he's not just a great spinner, but there is a great organization to the movements that you don't see in free-form dancing. Also, part of this inspiration came out of a conversation I had with a gentleman who helps ice skaters choreograph performances (talking olympic level athletes).

Based on the conversation I had which spurred this, what I personally have done is just started a text file on my computer, and just started typing out moves to flow from one to another, thinking about how it would look in my head, and kind of working it out. (This routine is for me solo.) I made a list that I think will take up about 4 minutes or so. I then printed it out, and next time I went outside just put the list in my pocket and started working on move-to-move. I didn't think of a song to do this with, I'm searching for a song that might fit what I'm trying to do. And currently I'm working on getting the routine down, and it's a helluva lot harder than I thought.

However, I think it would be instructional for myself and any others who have absolutely zero dance training, if anyone who knows about choreography would chime in with some tips or guidelines on how to go about choreographing a routine.

So I was wondering: What do those of you who do choreographed routines do, how do create your routines, what is the mindset, how do you organize the routine, how do you practice, etc.?

And any other tips or resources.
Thanks!


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simta
BRONZE Member since Apr 2006

simta

compfuzzled
Location: hastings

Total posts: 1182
Posted:try using a song as a starting point, so you have a base.

then you can use different sections of the song to frame different sections of your routine, and just go from there


"the geeks have got you" - Gayle

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DarkFyre
BRONZE Member since Nov 2005

DarkFyre

HoP mage and keeper of the fireballs
Location: Palmerston North

Total posts: 1965
Posted:I've gotta agree start with music and build upon with some free spining just to get a skeletal structure of a routine and then work from there to refine it.

BTW try not to choose your favorite song because you will have to listen to it so many times that you'll get sick of it.


May my balls of fire set your balls on fire devil

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_Poiboy_
GOLD Member since Jan 2004

_Poiboy_

bastard child of satan
Location: Raanana, Israel

Total posts: 1113
Posted:I'll have to agree with darkfyre and simta as well.
I usually choose a song, and start spinning to it with the prop i'm going to use, when i find interesting combos that go along with the music i write them down to have my high points, and then link these up using other moves.
if you have access to a camera film your routine while working on it to get feedback.


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Mynci
BRONZE Member since Apr 2005

Mynci

Macaque of all trades
Location: wombling free...

Total posts: 8737
Posted:We have a choreography workshop at Southern Lights this year. being run by flame oz so that will be interesting to watch.

A couple of balls short of a full cascade... or maybe a few cards short of a deck... we'll see how this all fans out.

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lozzy57


newbie


Total posts: 2
Posted:Uhm, Ive never made a spinning choreograph, but i danced for 14 years, and to make up our dances for shows etc, we started by finding the right music, we thought about what mood or message we anted to convey, whether it was to be lively or slow, and what sort of style (eg, for spinning you kind of need something with a rather steady beat, at a tempo you can keep up for the full song)

Then we would just play the music over and over and when we heard a bit we thought we could do something really good with we'd work that bit out, then put all the bits together and work out how to link it up, just changing the main chunks slightly to make moving from one bit to another easier (eg, if for the chorus you found a really good set of moves, and then for the bridge you found another set of moves, but te didnt link well together, for the chorus after thebridge we'd change the first bar or two of movements of the chrous, or the last bar or two of the bridge so that it would flow easily)

and then we just did it over and over and over


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Durbs
BRONZE Member since Sep 2001

Durbs

Classically British
Location: Epsom, Surrey, England

Total posts: 5688
Posted:Here's something I posted a while back on choosing the music for a routine - then i've added a bit specifically about choreographing routines:

1) Know your audiance.
Grannies/kiddies aren't going to appreciate thumping psytrance/techno or metal. 20-somethings at a rave probably won't dig on classical and anything with offensive language is an instant "No" for any public show.

2) Follow a theme.
If you're in costume/character, choose a piece of music that matches it.

3) Know the music.
Obviously, with repetitive playing you'll get to know any track, but for choreographing new routines I find it helps if you know the song beforehand.

4) Try and vary things.
Psytrance being a classic example - it's all at the same tempo, same level and has very little variation. Easy to choreo too, easy to stay in time, but very dull for the audiance. Try and choose a piece that has quiet sections, loud sections, slow bits, build-ups etc.

5) Choose the ending
I try and avoid pieces that fade out. A big climax is much easier to finish on.

6) Like the track.
You're going to hear it so much, don't choose something you hate from the start.

7) Get the right length
Either by editing the track, or by choosing one the right length from the start. If your track last 8 minutes with 3 minutes build-up, cut some time out the beginning.

8) Overall length
One person, doing one-prop, no-matter how good they are, will struggle to keep an audiance entertained for more than 5-minutes, maybe 6 if they're really good. Unless you're writing a multi-prop/multi-person routine, i'd try and keep it around 5 minutes.

9) Lyrics.
This is just a personal one - i try to avoid tracks with lyrics in, or at least with english lyrics in. Unless you're "acting out" the song in places, lyrics are quite distracting, but also they might be singing/rapping about something completely at odds with the performance. Comes back to themes...


I tend to work out how long a routine we're doing - then go into WMP/Winamp or whatever and sort my music library by length - if it's a 4-minute show,i'd look from about 3:50 to 4:30 and see which pieces suit the show. Or if there's a track i know will work but is too long, use a program (I reccomend Audacity - simple and free!) to edit it down.

If you're going for a "one show fits all" routine - ensure the music will work at any event. Otherwise you end up having a different routine for different situations - which is fine, but a lot more work

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When it comes to actually choreographing the routine, I play through it a few times with props in hand and see if any moves naturally go with any particular bits of the music.
If there's any set pieces I want to get in, find a section of music that fits with it.

Depends on what you're writing for, but generally try to keep the intro slow and build up. If you come out at full-speed, full energy you're going to have to work really hard to maintain the energy/excitement level. A slow start done well builds suspense (a slow start done badly is just dull however... it's a fine line wink ).
Be brave - to an audiance, really slow, simple movements, e.g. slow pendulums work really well. Don't feel you have to be doing tricks the whole time, you don't even have to spin the whole time.


There's different kinds of routines which suit different tastes - some try and convey a story, others are very dance/movement based, others are very technical/trick based. Choose what works for you.

The most important thing, which I've now started working out before even thinking about moves, is movement around the stage. Don't get caught writing out a complex series of moves and staying rooted to the spot - work out a series of movements across the stage.

For longevity, try and keep it flexible to, so you can do it on a larger/smaller stage with/without fire.

The above is all written with poi/staff in mind - for something like fans or palms which are much more dance-based you'll need a much stronger dance/movement planning behind it - I find these much harder to write, mostly as mentioned above as you have to really restrict yourself to simple shapes which are dull to you, but look great to an audiance.

Finally, it's worth pointing out, that most of the time you won't be performing to fellow poi/staff/jugglers/hoopers so don't feel pressured into going for the hardest tricks. Even if you are performing to other manipulators - they appreciate a good show just as much as an uber-tech demonstration.


Burner of Toast
Spinner of poi
Slacker of enormous magnitude

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tim_marston


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Total posts: 614
Posted:"One person, doing one-prop, no-matter how good they are, will struggle to keep an audiance entertained for more than 5-minutes, maybe 6 if they're really good. Unless you're writing a multi-prop/multi-person routine, i'd try and keep it around 5 minutes"

apart from the above which is nonsense i agree with durbs,
but for the best advice check out flame oz because they have a great track record of many choreographed routines,if they were jugglers their name would sound italian


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Durbs
BRONZE Member since Sep 2001

Durbs

Classically British
Location: Epsom, Surrey, England

Total posts: 5688
Posted:Oi! tongue
Maybe it's just me - but I don't think i've ever seen someone spin for just poi, or just single staff for more than 5 minutes without them repeating themselves or running out of ideas.
Unless, it's like a street show - in which case there's lots of filler to take it up to 15-20 minutes - but street shows are a completely different kettle of fish.

But agree, FlOz do write very good routines.

As an aside, I also find it much harder to write solo routines than group ones...


Burner of Toast
Spinner of poi
Slacker of enormous magnitude

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CaffeinatedKatie
GOLD Member since Jan 2005

CaffeinatedKatie

Teacher, Dancer, Artist, and General Smartass
Location: Portland, OR

Total posts: 149
Posted:clap to Durbs (with Marston's caviat... I think I entertain people with nothing but poi for 5 mins... but I'll give you, not just anyone can pull attention that long)

Basically reiterating: my method is choosing a song, and spinning to it several times. If you pick a song with good varied beats, you'll find different moves go with different beats. A heavy 1, 2, 1, 2, beat will lend well with moves where the poi are in unison, faster beats will work for alternating moves. Start with a good song. Well, really, just listen to Durbs.


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bluecat


bluecat

geek, level 1
Location: everywhere

Total posts: 5300
Posted:i reckon you should all come to mine, dave knox (Flame Floozie), ros (FNF) Kyle and megs 'routine building' workshop ubblol

wink


Holistic Spinner (I hope)

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aston
SILVER Member since Dec 2007

aston

Unofficial Chairperson of Squirrel Defense League
Location: South Africa

Total posts: 4061
Posted:If it was not on an inconvenient continent....

'We're all mad here. I'm mad, you're mad." [said the Cat.]
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "Or you wouldn't have come here."
- Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland

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Posted: Written by :Durbs


8) Overall length
One person, doing one-prop, no-matter how good they are, will struggle to keep an audiance entertained for more than 5-minutes, maybe 6 if they're really good. Unless you're writing a multi-prop/multi-person routine, i'd try and keep it around 5 minutes.




Well I'm starting off simple here. Since I'm just figuring this out, it's fortunate that the burn time of an average poi spin would be, you guessed it, right about 4-5 minutes.

It's been a real learning experience. I'm finding I'm thinking of new ways to transition from one move to another, and also it's forcing me to refine some of the moves I haven't quite perfected yet. (I wonder if that happens with other people, you think of a move that would be great in one spot but it's not your strongest move so it forces you to improve upon it.)

I appreciate the tips from everyone. I talked with the guy who sort of inspired this again, and he was basically telling me the same type of thing... pick a song, get a rough sketch of your moves and especially if the song has crescendos to have crescendo-type moves to fit the music.

 Written by :Durbs

Finally, it's worth pointing out, that most of the time you won't be performing to fellow poi/staff/jugglers/hoopers so don't feel pressured into going for the hardest tricks. Even if you are performing to other manipulators - they appreciate a good show just as much as an uber-tech demonstration.



I think this is something I intuitively know, but it's good to have a reminder. (I do poi mainly btw.)

My initial thought is to just have a smoothed out routine that I could video capture and put up on youtube, and then use it as a learning experience for both freeform dancing and as a springboard for doing other choreography.

But very excellent advice, that's pretty much what I was looking for, the basics of how to organize a choreographed routine.


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Rosherrim
SILVER Member since Dec 2007

Rosherrim

stranger
Location: England

Total posts: 7
Posted: Written by :Durbs


There's different kinds of routines which suit different tastes - some try and convey a story, others are very dance/movement based, others are very technical/trick based. Choose what works for you.



I've heard people talking about trying to convey a story during the course of a routine, but I've never quite understood what that means and how it's possible to do with poi. Could anyone explain, and do you know of any videos that show a particularly good story telling routine?


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Durbs
BRONZE Member since Sep 2001

Durbs

Classically British
Location: Epsom, Surrey, England

Total posts: 5688
Posted:Chimaera's routine is an example of a story-based performance. There's some vids on YouTube, or if you saw it Play, Southern Lights..,. Though this is more a story through several set pieces rather than within one routine.

Or more simplistically it's character based - contact juggling routines for example often involve heavy characterisation.


Burner of Toast
Spinner of poi
Slacker of enormous magnitude

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natasqi


natasqi

addict
Location: Perth

Total posts: 489
Posted:I never choreograph if it's only me spinning but routines with others always look good to the audience.

So I think I started making routines by trying to write down all our moves and working it from there, but I decided to go back to basics.

How am I going to start?
Spinning forwards? spinning backwards? complete spins or one spin then stall?

and I usually think of things in 4 or 8s.

So circle in front for four, circle other way for four, circle at hips and shoulders for eight,
turning circles at hips and shoulders for eight...
into weave (and then I'd think of all the weave variations) so back to front weave with over head
the front to back with flowers (remember to repeat because most audience will miss something then say "that was cool, mum, look at that" and you're not going to do it again.
then five beat or whatever...
Then Verse-->chorus. CHANGE IT
So stall/wrap/whatever and do butterfly
So butterfly,, then behind back/over head... then something else


That's how all our basic routines started. and then everyone learnt them and we could improve/change things as we got better. But, we do still go back to this first routine a lot because, we do gig for so many different audiences, no one is gonna see the same thing.

So I think it's great to have routines to fall back on. I also find lots of spinners forget all the moves they can do as soon as the poi are lit. They forget horizontal planes, they forget they can kneel or do things between legs... But if you make a routine like this a practice it, then if you suddenly freeze or freak in a performance, it is likely you'll have muscle memory and will naturally flow onto something new, not continue doing weave cross for 2 minutes. biggrin

Good luck!


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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:Durbs, if you have a theme and find a song that fits the theme, then wouldn't the lyrics be included in that?
Personally I find lyrics can help the emotion of the song and to convey the theme with more power.
Same goes for songs with varying beats.

I do agree with your list other than that.

I tend to be more methodic. I do the same, choose the song, listen to the song and I envision moves in my head rather than do them, that way I can get more feel for the song rather than getting lost in the movements.

I also take a technical count of how many beats are in the song and I chart them out. For example:
Intro- 3 cts of 8 slow tempo
bridge- 1+2+3+
Fast tempo- 6 cts 8 +4

This actually helps me see the music too. It lets me know what I'm up against.
Then I fit moves into it, and write it all down and adjust as needed.

This allows me to save them and when I send the video in for copyright, it also allows me to send the paper with it for extra insurance. But that may be a US thing, I don't know.

Good luck!


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Bernie_Flame
SILVER Member since Dec 2005

Bernie_Flame

Poi junkie
Location: In your face!

Total posts: 75
Posted:Some good tips. I agree with starting off slow & building up on moves. I also like to think about my entrance and exit, or start and finish. If there is a sudden ending to the music I finish on stage, and if the music fades out I plan an exit. I suppose I take my dance training for granted, but presentation is important to me so I'd advise people to consider every detail.
Head movements, foot work, poses, turns, jumps, contrasting moves etc.
But most importantly, don't forget to smile! It's nice to see a performer who looks like they're enjoying themselves.x


man who go bed with itchy bum wake up with smelly finger!

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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted:Great thread, I've only just read it.

I've come in search of information about writing routines because I'm pretty much a freestyle spinner myself, it's a personal preference thing but were I to actually make a video, I'd definitely choreograph it because, like in the OP, they just look better than your average freestyle video and all the information in this thread is top notch.

Thing is, I've been tasked with writing a routine for three poi spinners ( maybe two poi and a staff, I'll find out next week ) Not that the toys matter that much, nor the actual moves either, I'm more interested in learning just how to write a group routine.

First a bit of background. I've been performing in a five member group for the last four years and there's always been an element of something I'll label as "creative stress" and just leave it at that, which has been somewhat...nay, a real hindrance to our group evolving as a performance troupe.

Now there's an opportunity to put that creative stress behind us and move forward in a Flame Oz like fashion.

We have some routines ( like a two person flaming sword battle, and a staff duet ) that we want to keep but the rest of the 20-25 minute show is pretty much up for a rewrite.

We're ( well I'm ) thinking a slow start with fans, then introduce a couple of more toys toward the end of the fan "set" with a sort of overlap between the different props coming on stage to make up one long show that appears more cohesive than the individual sets we have now. I'm fully expecting performer's ego ( diva ) issues with this approach, but I can deal with that.

One issue I'd like to overcome is this idea of wanting/needing to perform in a proscenium style when experience has shown that the vast majority of our shows are done in the round, or at least thrust.

I'm expecting resistance to this idea because, when I tried to introduce a routine based on in the round ( and other ideas I had that were a little "different" , like taking size and position of the circles into consideration to create multi person based patterns ) there was enough resistance to the ideas that I bailed on the idea all together.

Another problem we have is wasting time kicking around ideas that. for all intents and purposes, are rather unrealistic. Like designing costumes that are pretty much impossible to spin in, introducing props that we don't own and are both expensive and complicated to come up with ( like fire cannons ) and "telling stories" which, when it comes right down to it is very difficult to do using this medium.

Wow..is this ever sounding whiny...yes, I'd like some cheese please.

Anyway.

One problem we have is music....From a practical perspective it's not worth investing in a sound system that's powerful enough to be heard over the sound of the flames and reach a large audience. There's just not enough money in this gig ( locally ) to make that investment worthwhile. Also, since we lack a private indoor rehearsal space, we're always practicing in parks or peoples yards, or parking lots, and blasting music is going to generate complaints...so choreographing to a song is most definitely out of the picture.

What do i mean not enough money ? I figure that in order to make a living off of spinning we'd have to do at least 400 shows a year, otherwise I'm keeping my day job.

One thing we do have to do is increase the overall effectiveness of our practice sessions. too often we sit around bombing fatties and wasting time kicking around these "ideas" so that by the time the session is over, we've only used a small percentage of out time to "move forward" Example...last night I invested a total of four hours to actually do about 20 minutes of practice, next week I'm thinking about showing up wearing big boots and carrying a riding crop wink

This is he point that i have to confess having absolutely no knowledge about what I'm actually doing...What ??? me a choreographer ? But I have talked to several "dance experienced" people about these ideas, and all seem to agree with me so I know I'm not way out in left field with my ideas.

My over all idea is to stay with rather simple moves until we can get the time and effort commitment to do the constant repetitive practice that we'll need to make involving more complicated moves practical ( or we can just be sloppy ) so I'm thinking of writing a basic framework involving performer's positions on stage and the basic position of "the circles" which can be tweaked with more complicated moves if the whole idea works out.

I'm not expecting too much resistance to the moves I have in mind as most people have seen me spin them during our freestyle jams. They're mostly moves and combinations I've come up with over the years, more variations of things I've ripped off from videos, plus things I've thought up on my own. Combinations...yea, that's the word.

So HoP ers...am I on the right track here, with working out an in the round framework involving "simple" moves until the timing is spot on then evolving it from there ?

Or should I just hire a professional choreographer and get he/she to do it for me ?


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natasqi


natasqi

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Location: Perth

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Posted:I think what I said above applies... but I'll elaborate.

Our troupe also has the problem that our practice time is also the only time we see each other during the week, and as we're really good friends, there is time spent catching up and telling stories.

I think you have to start thinking what you want in each routine and the music.

We usually start with the music, make a mix that has different beats and tempos (one of my favourite starts with african drums and includes I feel love by Blue Man Group and Du Hast by Rammstein.)
Then think about the 'feel' of the song.
In my troupe (4 guys, 2 gals) we'd think which are the 'girly' songs, which are the 'tribal' songs, which sound like a battle, etc.

So usually there would be a 'girly' song that is upbeat for me and Ren to do a poi routine to.

We then usually make a .. i don't know what to call it, but breakdown of mix and each song, to add cues (if you aren't going to be able to hear the music, this probably won't matter)
but for example.
0:00 - Blah starts - Ren and Nat enter with Fingers
0:30 - Drumming is added - Stu and Byron enter with sticks
1:15 - chorus stops - Ren Nat off
1:45 - next song starts - Jed one with cannonballs.

So you et the idea. But we also include "music louder" and "chorus" and stuff, because we believe that music for us is really important.

And then We'd say "ok, it goes verse, chorus, verse, chorus, verse) so then we'd decide the 'base' of our moves. like... weave, butterfly, weave, butterfly, corkscrew/horzontal plane" and we'd move on from there.

So this routine would be one where we're both facing the audience and doing the same move (though usually mirror) and we might decide to change sides halfway through or something.

So that's one type of routine.


Other things we've done is had a bit of a story, so for a wedding once I was wearing white and the guys were wearing black. I used mostly little things like fingers and then poi while the guys used big staff and kinda 'competed' for me but escalating in impressiveness.



I guess if I was going to choreograph the poi poi staff routine... I'd have to look at the person's heights and genders as well. ( I love symmetry) I'm sure the poi people could make a routine or at least sync a couple of moves. Staff moves can also look like poi moves at times and adding this in a key moments will add that bit of interaction.

If it was me, I'd start something like staff first, doing low key spinning... poi comes out and lights off him, steps back... he burns off... poi do 'background spinning' until chorus, or verse or whatever, then they come forward, do routine, the move apart, staff comes forward to and they all do the same moves. (staff antispin=flowers etc).

And we always have continuous sets... Having breaks between things seems really foreign to us all. (though for 3 people we'd limit a performance to 15mins)

Re style of set up... sometimes proscenium works.. sometimes we've had to do routines back to back as we've been surrounded by audience (and then you have to rotate by 90 as well).
Ue your people can do things while on the ground, DO! Add multilevels etc.

I think we all make designs of things that are impossible. If only we had squillions of dollars to fund these!

I thnk whatever you do, it will be awesome. You're obviously not newbies.

to increase effectiveness at practice, we know have newsletters with "what Nat/Jed/Whatever" should do before next session and also what's gonna happen at next session. Have a plan like, a choreographed 3 minute show.

We also find that you should chat in the end of the practice, and the first half/hour or whatever is reserved just for spinning. if you get there and people are sitting down, you'll sit down. But if you get there and people re already spinning, you won't sit down.

smile

Hope there is something you can take away from my babbling.! grin


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natasqi


natasqi

addict
Location: Perth

Total posts: 489
Posted:Alternatively, research the topic.
http://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&a...result#PPA49,M1
br>grin


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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted:Hi Nat

There's lots i can take away from your babbling..

The first being your support if the idea of one "flowing" show rather than a collection of individual acts.

I'm all up for discussing the music and using that to convey a message or idea, but as I said above, unless we need to get a private rehearsal space so we won't torture the neighbours when we practice and we need to cough up for our own ( respectable ) PA system.

And then there's the situations where we're preforming in areas without access to electricity, and the performances done in inclement weather...like horizontal freezing rain.

No, we're not newbies by any stretch of the imagination, however if i do end up writing the routine for two poi and one staff spinner, I will be dealing with an immature ( not a newb, but no performance experience with limited skills and a "combative" style ) and I was planning on taking the gender of the performers into account and playing off that. Our old poi routine was two girls, one guy ( me ) so i tended to take center stage at some points, and went backstage when the girls did their partner parts. BTW, I'm thinking of completely nixing the partner bits, i know they're crowd pleasers, but I also have to take into account that all performers won't be able to make all the shows.

I don't know what it is about these arts but we've been through several people who've expressed an interest in joining our group, only to fail miserably when it comes to making practices. I'm putting it down to the flake factor rather than us being hard to get along with. Also, I'm thinking that the "structured" show tends to grate against the "do your own thing" mentality that permeates these arts.

So we may have a top notch poi spinner coming on board next week making the routine two guys one girl, but I'm not holding my breath that he's going to be reliable ( my inner cynic speaking ) The staff spinner OTOH, is married to one of the guys in our group, so at least we know there's not going to be reliability issues there.

So, yes if we do end up going with the staff spinner, then it's a great suggestion to keep moves where the poi and staff look similar in mind.

I like the idea of staff spinner up front and center, with poi doing a sort of doo-wop thing in the background, then a switch, switch again, switch again so one person isn't in any one position for more than say...10 seconds, and also switching between complimentary and contrasting moves ( eg different planes, or heights ), even having one spinner stationary while the other two move around him/her.

Good idea on the plan for the practice, I'll put that idea out there. If I write the first one ( plan that is ) I'll try to at least get the performers thinking about what ideas we're going to explore during the session, rather than mumbling aimlessly about things we'd like to see happen, but don't have the resources to realise. The "pie in the sky" stuff is best saved for that slow after Christmas season, when there's no work.

Sometimes, working in the proscenium mode, I'm tempted to bust out into Yyyyyyyyyyyyyy Mmmmmmmmmmm Ceeeeeeeee Aaaaaaaaa.


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natasqi


natasqi

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Location: Perth

Total posts: 489
Posted:Our "private" rehearsal space is actually a uni. It's in the middle of all our houses, has power points available, undercover areas, and has lots of space around it.
And the people who live nearby are usually students and don't care about the noise.


I think my boss had the right idea - get them while they're young (or at least newbies to poi) and mould them in your image. grin
Though it's probably the newbies that are fueling the costumes and new ideas.

I think the only incentive we needed was watching videos of randoms in backyards spinning, then watching videos of a cohesive troupe that had choreography etc.

I think starting by copying what others have done at least gets you somewhere, gets the troupe used to choreo etc. Then you can expand on it afterwards.


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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:Stout, there is also a trick that is done by choreographers called tracing.
This refers to the formations the group takes on and how they move around the floor. This way it is not always in a rotation.

For example my notes then look like:

beats 1-4: high temp drums- all butterfly variation- chevron
beats 5-6: slower drum- body pass- rotate chevron
beats 7-8: pipe intro- overhead- paddle turn
and beat: move left stage forward diagonal


I give the beat count first, with a description we all know for the music pertaining to that beat, a generalization of what move we are doing and then the floor pattern we are in.

A chevron is a "V" where the point (middle person) is away from the audience. To trace a choreographer uses geometric shapes, letters, etc to create the floor plan. This also helps with moving transitions and it can be fitted for an in the round quite easily.

If you do this ahead of time you also have an idea for structuring a rehearsal.
You mark off how far you want/need to get in the routine per practice session and you keep to it.
Copies of the sheets can be handed out and amended as you go just in case some things don't work and others do.

Truthfully, I'm not a big fan of labelling parts in a gender based sense. I know men that can be very fluid and graceful to what would be normally concidered "girlie" and visa-versa for women, so I take a different approach and think of it more in terms of which tool would fit that part or that particular song best. Things that are softer tend to apply to elements like fans where things that are more erratic or comical apply to the rope or torches, strong musical elements are normally assigned to staves or whips, but staff and poi fit anything and are wonderfully versitile.


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted:Hi natsqui..

We may, just may have an indoor practice space this winter. We get a real deal on a good sized room at a community center providing we do a fire show for them at Halloween. Problem is it's where and where we hold our weekly indoor spinning jams and we may have to look at shutting those down in favour of us ( as a group ) monopolising the space. It's not a drastic decision ( IMO ) as attendance tends to "fluctuate" for those things.

If so, and I can sell the whole idea of Flamenco poi which, IMO has more appeal than the monotonous EDM that we typically use ( part of that creative stress I mentioned upthread ) then I'll actually put the wheels in motion to acquire a decent sound system that would be suitable for large outdoor shows. It shouldn't be too difficult, a home theater amp, a sub, and a couple of speakers.......facepalm, I sold a pair of industrial speakers about three years ago, they were just taking up space.

We're actually pretty used to choreography, but the creative stress element had us not really drilling it to perfection. We'd just sort of run through the motions a couple of times and the result was rather sloppy timing. I don't know what's worse, sloppy timing or a group of people onstage freestyling. Luckily, we had a person interested in joining our group last May, and she was professionally dance trained so we went to teach us our routines she wanted to practice them over and over and over...... I'm hoping that was a learning experience for all members of our troupe. Too bad she couldn't stick around.

Hi Pele.

My google-fu is weak when it comes to searching out tracing, but based on your post, I think I have a pretty good idea what you're taking about. So far, I'm familiar with chevron, an "inverted" chevron, and a line with a few bits where we spin horizontal circles and rotate around a fixed point, center stage.

Yea...the sheets. I'm thinking of keeping pretty much our basic three person poi routine for the next couple of months while we teach it ( hopefully ) to yet another new person, and then expanding, or tweaking the parts I find awkward. Great idea to have a plan for the practice and we can track out progress on the sheets.

I hear you on the gender based idea, but our show is somewhat limited by who can manipulate which tools in which fashion. Yep, I'm a "girly" spinner , one of our other members is a girly spinner, but she's actually a girl, and new guy doesn't strike me as Mr. macho either. With the routine I'm going to be writing, I'm thinking that the two guys, one girl can be used to our advantage in the way we interact with each other. ie, there may be opportunities to "frame" her,,,for instance.

At least the flamenco poi idea pushed an idea out of my head that had been haunting me for a couple of days. ABBA poi. OK, now that you've finished laughing, you have to admit, it would be a crowd pleaser. well, at least given our audience, which is pretty diverse ( no, we don't do club gigs )

Another idea I had was "working backwards" with respect to the music. Right now, as I write this, there's no plans for music save our lame EDM on the ghetto blaster, cranked up to the point of distortion, which, thankfully, I can't hear over the sound of the flames so I spin as if we don't have music. Suppose the guitar/Flamenco poi idea caught on, couldn't we choreograph our routines and show in silence, and then have someone play us a soundtrack based on the show itself ? Sort of reverse engineer the music, so to speak. I'm no musician but I can think of three people off the top of my head who might be interested ( and able ) in giving it a go and hey! wouldn't you know it, one of them owes me money.


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LazyAngel
GOLD Member since Jul 2004

LazyAngel

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Cambridge UK

Total posts: 2895
Posted:IMHO, with choreographing to music, you NEED to know where crescendos etc will come in

BUT...

we have done gigs with drummers providing live music: one case in point was where were doing a series of short 15 minute sets: we'd spent a bit of time working with them beforehand, and on the night, we'd give them a brief on what we wanted to fit in with the performance (ie crescendo when x does y type thing)

If you're going to do live music, it really helps to have at least one drummer to provide a clear beat: and remember your musicians may get tired too!


Because ActiveAngel sounds like a feminine deodorant

Like sex, I'm much more interesting in real life than online.

'Be the change you want to see in the world around you' - Ghandi

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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted:We've tried the live drummer thing. and it fits well with these arts providing you're trying to market the whole hippy "tribal" image. the problem is trying to find drummers who are interested in working with the drummers rather than going off and doing their own thing, which is usually drumming way too fast, all the time. It's mostly a "problem" at freestyle jams...and then there's the reliability issue too...

I'm hoping to get away from that whole tribal thing as I seriously doubt it's popular ( read commercial ) appeal, given our typical audience and "slick it up a little". I don't know if I'll succeed, I may get shouted down, but I am a good salesman.


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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:I can completely see reverse engineering, especially if you give enough time to the musicians to see/grasp the flow of your choreography.

I do it with a fiddler friend of mine, but she's really accustomed to working with me so it's "easy". However, the issue becomes, can the musician free form or only perform known songs?
If the musician can freeform and create music...then you are golden. If the musician can only play known songs then you may have an issue because you will be limited to what the person can play.

Doing this for the first time you might want to nail down the routine, and then video tape it making note of what you feel are the crescendos and de-crescendos so that s/he/they can appropriately create music outside of your rehearsal schedule.

Or you can just do your thing and then at the end poll the audience to see if they can name the music that was playing in your head wink


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted:Hi Pele...

That's what i was thinking, get the routine/show down first ( this is going to take months ) and once we're happy with it, then videotape it and get out musician on board. I'm hoping for someone who can free form it, but if they only know songs, then even splicing parts of songs together to make up the music for the routine might work out too.

That poll the audience idea is brilliant.

We'll have several shows to do this fall and we'll most likely be doing them without music and asking audience members what type of music they think would match our performance will give some great input.

Other than the flamenco poi, I'm still at a loss for music suggestions ( 'cept poi ABBA wink ) I'm even thinking about flamenco style costumes but tonight's the night I submit the proposal, wish me luck smile


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Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted:Well all my ideas went over pretty well.

I happy that we're going to explore a more dramatic, Spanish theme which IMO is better suited to a group of white folks than this done to death "tribal" thing.

We'll probably keep some of the slow and artsy elements in the show for variety and contrast ( that, and some of them have been rehearsed for years ) and I'm looking forward to moving in a new direction......Might even take flamenco dance lessons.


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MRC
SILVER Member since Jun 2008

MRC

Funky Blessings Daily


Total posts: 215
Posted:Originally Posted By: StoutWell all my ideas went over pretty well.

I happy that we're going to explore a more dramatic, Spanish theme which IMO is better suited to a group of white folks than this done to death "tribal" thing.

We'll probably keep some of the slow and artsy elements in the show for variety and contrast ( that, and some of them have been rehearsed for years ) and I'm looking forward to moving in a new direction......Might even take flamenco dance lessons.

I briefly took flamenco guitar lessons. I eventually realized I couldn't play the music to my own fire set...

I'm always in favor of cross training. And flamenco dancing, just like it's guitar playing, is crazy stuff.

I'm also kind of tired of the tribal and even cyber stuff. I love dreadlocks, I've had em twice in the past...they seem like such a cliche now. I just think I'm better off not becoming another "guy with dreads that spins fire"

I'm actually thinkin I might move towards something more steampunk just for fun. But then, saying so publicly kind of ruins it.


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