All of the planning you’ve been doing in your head since February (let’s be honest, since December) is about to become real. Choreography is always an exciting start to the season, but it can also be the most trying two weeks of the year. Having new coaches, captains or choreographers in the mix can be wonderful or challenging. Did you schedule enough time to complete all of the routines you want to finish? Will everyone show up? What do you do when you hit that wall and nothing seems to work? Will everyone be able to work together? How can you make progress without hurting the feelings of the contributors in the room? Here are a few tips to help you through the next 14 days…
- Share the Plan
Be sure to have a plan for each day of choreography and share that plan with all of the people involved. Be sure to explain that choreography teams are SET and the number of participants cannot be altered. It’s important for everyone to show up and do their part. Everyone needs to know what the expectations are – for example, you have 4 sessions to make up the JV Kick dance and each session is 2 hours long and you’ll be meeting in Gym B. The JV Kick routine is 52 sets of music, so divided by 4 sessions is 13 sets per session. Each choreography group needs a coach, a way to play music, a music map and someone to take notes/video of the progress. If everyone knows what is expected of them, they have a better chance of meeting or exceeding the goals!
- K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Sister!)
Don’t make anything too complicated. Tackle the big pieces first and then try to fill in the blanks. Have a music map ready for every routine. (See sample here.) For Kick, start with the height line first and then work through formations & transitions. Once you have those basics in place, go back through the dance and layer on footwork, arms, heads, etc. Jazz can start with the technical sections first, formations and then layers. Don’t try to paint the Mona Lisa in one day. Just get the basics done – you will go back and make changes throughout the week and throughout the season. Don’t make things too difficult at the start!
- Don’t get Stuck
There is nothing worse than choreography that doesn’t work out and getting stuck puts most people in a terrible mood. DON’T let that happen! Change the focus and take a break with an ice breaker, a game or a snack. When the team gets back to work, they should have some new momentum. Last resort? It’s ok to re-use your own team’s choreography from previous years – you can use something as a placeholder and continue to tweak and change it into something new as the season progresses. If all else fails, here’s some advice from former EP Pom Coach Anna Bachman-Itman. She said when you get stuck with choreography, start at the beginning of the day and turn each of your “daily routines” into a dance move. Example – getting out of bed, washing your face, brushing your teeth, opening the fridge, making coffee, etc. She walked through the ACTUAL motions and then morphed each movement into a dance move. This simple trick has worked for times I’ve been stuck. Thanks, Coach Anna! J
- Never let them see you Sweat
The coaching staff and choreographers will be looking to you for leadership during this time. It’s your time to shine! Don’t get frazzled, even if you are frustrated. Keep calm, keep strong and keep moving. This is not a time to break down, skip sessions or not be present when you are there. You want to stay on task, but you can still be successful if your dances aren’t finished for Day One. Keep the big picture in mind and don’t lose your focus – you’re the captain of the ship!
- All the Feelings…
Choreography can be mentally challenging! There’s a strong possibility of having personality clashes or hurt feelings, so head that off by discussing the GOAL and letting everyone know that reaching the goal is the team’s focus. Let people know that input is necessary, but not all ideas will be used. Unused ideas aren’t “bad” – they might not be right or fit into the overall picture. It’s also a good idea to remind everyone what your team’s process is for choreography and who has the final say. Don’t forget to ask the group to be open-minded and flexible when it comes to trying something new. And if you have someone who gets upset, deal with it quickly and privately so it doesn’t fester and become more than it is.
Good luck to all coaches and teams this week!
MADT Board of Directors