Practice:

After teaching your choreography to your dancers, there's not much more you can do except practice. You need to get your dancers to the point of automaticity. In other words, they need to be able to perform without having to put too much thought into it. There are 2 simple ways choreographers can do this:
Chunking and Maintenance Rehearsal

Chunking

 

Chunking is essentially taking a large amount of information and breaking it into smaller pieces of information. Choreographers can do this in three ways:

  • Chronologically: Taking the piece of choreography and chunking it into a beginning section, middle section, and ending section. This allows you to rehearse a large piece of choreography in smaller sections until your dancers can piece them together.

  • Categorically: Taking pieces of simiar movement and separating it from the rest of the choreography. This may mean making categories including all jumps, turns, slow movement, sharp movement, etc. and practicing these sections one at a time

  • Spatially: Taking a piece of choreography and "slicing" the body in half in different planes, as shown in the image to the right, and rehearsing one part at a time. This allows you to focus your attention to one part of the body until your dancers can coordinate all of the movements at one time.

Maintenance Rehearsal

 

Maintenance Rehearsal is the act of repeating something over and over again until you can store it in your long-term memory. Dancers should be very familiar with this, but it is the choreographer's job to faciliate maintenance rehearsal by:

  • Starting each rehearsal by reviewing the material you've taught in previous rehearsals.

  • Encouraging dancers to keep reviewing choreography when you are not working with them specifically on a different section of your dance. 

  • Go over choreography in smaller groups. This gives your dancers a chance to watch their peers and remember details they may have forgotten from previous rehearsals.

Criticism

There are conflicting views about how effective maintenance rehearsal is for storing information into your memory.  Critics say that the issue with maintenance rehearsal is that it only forces learners to think shallowly about the information (ex. what it looks like) as opposed to critically thinking and relating to the information on a deeper level. Another type of reheasal, called elaborative rehearsal, involves learners connecting new information to something they have already experienced or emotionally connecting to information.

Although any choreographer will argue that the best way to remember choreography is to embody the movement and practice as much as possible, it is important to give thought to elaborative rehearsal, as well. Whether you do this by explaining the concept of your dance to your dancers and having an open discussion about it, or by relating your movement to real life images (ex. moving like you are underwater, pretending you're stuck in mud, etc.,) elaboration may help your dancers stay curious and interested in your work. 

To learn more about the critism of maintenance rehearsal and using elaborative rehearsal, click on the link here: 

 

 

 

Now that you have been through the S.T.E.P tutorial, take a look at the video below. See if you notice the well-established choreographer, Wayne McGregor, using any of the strategies from S.T.E.P. to choreograph a dance in real time. 

A Choreographer's Creative Process in Real Time | Wayne McGregor | TED Talks