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One school of thought regarding choreography says to teach only the rules of fundamental design and form and have students create from formulas. Another school of thought eschews the fundamentals and focuses on creativity.
Author Diana Green espouses both theories and blends them beautifully in Choreographing From Within: Developing a Habit of Inquiry as an Artist. Her approach to integrating the art and craft of choreography grounds students in the fundamentals and takes the fear out of creativity.
Green uses an inquiry-based approach to engage students, placing them at the center of the learning and allowing for multiple pathways of learning. Rather than present a cookbook approach with recipes to follow, Green offers a thorough understanding of the medium, provides examples, and allows students to learn, explore, and create based on their own unique styles.
Choreographing From Within will help students
learn to create movement that originates from a specific intent,
understand the elements of choreography,
synthesize those elements through a series of exercises in which they are given explicit instruction, and
break formulaic boundaries as they create their own dances.
The text contains assignments that reinforce the concepts the students learn in each chapter (including the elements of energy, space, time, and quality; partnering; transitions; and formulas). Each choreographic concept is explored through warm-up exercises, moves on to improvisations, and then focuses on students’ discovery through reflective questioning, discussions, and short movement studies. The text provides tools for students and their instructors to evaluate and document their progress through class critiques, journal writing, rubrics, digital portfolios, and critical thinking essays. Students can retest their discoveries by completing exercises that focus on breaking the rules they learned. In this way, each student is encouraged to develop a unique creative style to be used in his or her own finished work, be it for solo, duet, or small-group choreography.
Part I focuses on the process of choreography and how to be intentionally creative. Part II introduces students to the elements of movement, helping them to analyze the separate elements before they learn to synthesize them in part III, where music is added. Students also learn how to apply transitions in their work, use formulas to manipulate movement, and explore with props and various numbers of dancers. Finally, in part IV, students begin planning finished pieces of choreography using methods of refining and forming.
The book’s dynamic photos illustrate the concepts covered in the book, helping to shape students’ awareness and inspire them in their own creations. Because the text is designed for use with all dance techniques, the glossary terms clarify communication across various dance styles.
Choreographing From Within helps students find the unique artist within themselves. That unique artist springs from the inquiry-based approach that puts students in the driver’s seat and provides numerous pathways and tools for them to develop their abilities to their fullest.
Part I: Starting the Process Chapter 1. Discovering the Dance
Inquiry, Science, and Dance
Discussion of Key Concept
Chapter 2. Creating With Intent
Exploring Movement With Intent
Part II: Discovering the Basics Chapter 3. Energy
Chapter 4. Space
Size, Body Parts, and Levels in Space
Line and Shape
Symmetry and Asymmetry
Chapter 5. Time
Chapter 6. Quality of Movement
Part III. Exploring Synthesis Chapter 7. Sound
The Ultimate Conversation
Working With Music and Sound Scores
Use and Manipulation of Copyrighted Music
Chapter 8. Transitions
Chapter 9. Formulas
Choreography by Chance
Chapter 10. Solos, Duets, Trios, and Groups
Communication and Trust in Duets
Elements of Movement in Duets
Chapter 11. Props
Part IV: Exploring Ways to Refine and Form Chapter 12. Dance Style
Abstract to Expressive
Cultural Styles and Dance Techniques
Chapter 13. Overall Form
Creating Form by Using Climax
Linear or Narrative Form
Appendix: Considerations When Arranging Production Content
References and Resources
About the Author
Text for dance majors in choreography and composition courses.
Resource for dance instructors and students at the middle school and
high school levels and at arts magnet schools.
Diana F. Green, MFA, is celebrating her third career in the arts
as the arts in education program manager for the Alabama State Council
on the Arts in Montgomery. Having founded the first P-12 certification
program in dance in the state of Alabama, she stays informed of the
latest research on teaching and uses dance as an integration tool for
Preparing for her first career, Green studied under Eugene Loring and
Antony Tudor, learning diverse styles and concentrating on choreography
and pedagogy. She taught at a preprofessional ballet school and youth
company in Silver Spring, Maryland, for 15 years. Her students have gone
on to dance with nationally recognized companies performing on Broadway
and throughout the world. During her tenure in Maryland, she was
selected to choreograph and direct a performing arts tribute for
Maryland's 350th birthday.
Moving from private studio to higher education, Green designed and
directed the dance program at HuntingdonCollege in Montgomery, Alabama,
for 12 years. Her program was among the first to receive the National
College Choreography Initiative Grant funded by the National Endowment
for the Arts and Dance USA, and her dancers were selected to showcase at
the KennedyCenter and have won awards as choreographers and performers.
Green has choreographed eight full-length ballets and numerous concert
works in varied styles. She has received grants for her work in both
Maryland and Alabama. She continues as guest choreographer and master
teacher for schools and companies in Alabama and has received an
invitation to teach choreography in Pietresanta, Italy.