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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 Exploration Discussion of Key Concept Movement Studies Assessment Drawing Conclusions Summary
Chapter 2. Creating With Intent Exploring Movement With Intent
Part II: Discovering the Basics Chapter 3. Energy Dynamics Energy Flow
Chapter 4. Space Size, Body Parts, and Levels in Space Performance Space Line and Shape Symmetry and Asymmetry Negative Space Direction
Chapter 5. Time Tempo Meter Rhythm
Chapter 6. Quality of Movement Emotions Effort Actions Quality Language
Part III. Exploring Synthesis Chapter 7. Sound Music Visualization Movement Auralization The Ultimate Conversation Text Working With Music and Sound Scores Use and Manipulation of Copyrighted Music
Chapter 8. Transitions Exploring Transitions
Chapter 9. Formulas Repeated Material Developed Material Choreography by Chance
Chapter 10. Solos, Duets, Trios, and Groups Solos Communication and Trust in Duets Elements of Movement in Duets Trios Group Dynamic
Chapter 11. Props Exploring Props
Part IV: Exploring Ways to Refine and Form Chapter 12. Dance Style Abstract to Expressive Cultural Styles and Dance Techniques Personal Style
Chapter 13. Overall Form Creating Form by Using Climax Organic Form Cyclic Form Linear or Narrative Form Thematic Form
Appendix: Considerations When Arranging Production Content References and Resources Music Resources Glossary Photo Credits Index 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 learning.
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.