Friday, October 30, 2015

Choreography: The space and audience

stage - pista audience 
huge - small space      
circular - linear choreo        
comparison playlist       

The tango performers have a quite many hidden skills, which we in audience maybe do not pay attention to. When the tango choreography is created it needs to look good in very different environments and I suppose the performers hardly know about the conditions for the coming season.

One challenge for the choreography is how the audience is seated. An ordinary stage performance places the audience on one side so you do all the interesting movements in that direction.  It is different for the pista where the enjoying eyes are all around the performing couple. It means that the interesting details must be planned carefully and they must be visibly to all directions so all in the audience can catch them. The following short glimpse shows how Pajaro and Maria Belen are solving that challenge geniusly! They present the airy movements to the audience on both sides . 

(video at 0.33)

Another skill needed is the ability to fit the choreography to different venues. Did you noticed how large the pista is in the video above  and how Pajaro/Maria Belen are dancing on the whole floor  from quite near the scene to the other end of the pista. I had the possibility to see this performance live and they were really filling up the space preparing for us a high class visual entertainment.

The same choreo on a smaller pista and please, pay attention how they are able to keep the same high energy level in spite of the changed options!

Pajaro and Maria Belen

It must be challenging to redo/maintain the whole choreography for two so different floors as these Russian and Finnish ones are.  The Pajaro/Maria choreography had a more circular type of form and it gives you better options. You can always go around the number of steps you need!  The second example, danced below by Pablo and Dana, has o more linear form with some round going sections every now and then. Spontaneously I think it must be more difficult to adapt, but they still managed it and did well!

We start with the huge pista

 Pablo and Dana in Tylösand   

and a smaller version  

What are these couples doing when they adapt to a new size of the pista?  

To get an idea about the options these dancers have I wanted to compare the performances and  try to spot the differences. I opened two browser windows besides each others so  I could stop one and watch the same section on the other one. My untrained eye had hard time to find any differences even when I knew that there must be some.

I noticed though that Pajaro and Maria Belen are dancing in a visibly different way for a part of the song. The small dance is going more around at the same space and the larger one uses a lot more of the pista. It requires a good portion of concentration and experience to modify the dance to this extent during a performance.

The small starts around 2.20 :

The large starts around 2.26 :

I did the same for the Pablo/Dana songs but I did not find spots which shows the different solutions for these two alternatives.  the other hand, as usual when I invest some extra time on something, I make a lot of bonus observations! Here it was the joy of how fantastic and humorous their dancing was. I still think of this milonga as Pablo/Dana milonga!  

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Choreography: The theories and attitudes

prepared dance

emotional privacy

meanings of the word

origin of the word

improvised choreo - planned choreo

ronda - a choreography

There was a period when I appreciated only the improvised tango performances and could not find any reason to go for the stage performances. Later on this attitude changed and one of the reasons was the fact how the performance was prepared. I started to appreciate the couples who were working with the steps, exploring the possibilities in music and choosing the total atmosphere for this special performance. It offered a possibility to express their professionalism in a different way compared to the couples who went to the stage and moved to the music creating an instant performance.

The second thought was about the greediness of the audience. When the dancers are using choreography they also take a role which is like cloths on their private personality, protecting their privacy. An audience wanting them to dance only improvised forces them to be emotionally naked before their eyes. Many times you could easily see how the dancers relationship was for the moment and I started to be uncomfortable with that information. I started to appreciate the neutrality of a dance role, which leaves the personal life outside. There is also a special kind of atmosphere on stage performances which I learned to be fond of!

I want to add that a badly planned performance is not nice and not the badly rehearsed one!  But if it is well done don't we agree about a special kind of beauty of these performances?

British Dictionary definitions for choreography is

choreography:  /ˌkɒrɪˈɒɡrəfɪ/   noun

1. the composition of dance steps and sequences for ballet and stage dancing

2. the steps and sequences of a ballet or dance

3. the notation representing such steps

4. the art of dancing

The same source defines the words origin and history :

1789, from French chorégraphie, coined from Latinized form of Greek khoreia "dance" (see chorus ) + graphein "to write" (see -graphy ).


Dances are designed by applying one or both of the following fundamental choreographic methods:

Improvisation, in which a choreographer provides dancers with a score (i.e., generalized directives) that serves as guidelines for improvised movement and form. For example, a score might direct one dancer to withdraw from another dancer, who in turn is directed to avoid the withdrawal, or it might specify a sequence of movements that are to be executed in an improvised manner over the course of a musical phrase, as in contra dance choreography. Improvisational scores typically offer wide latitude for personal interpretation by the dancer.

Planned choreography, in which a choreographer dictates motion and form in detail, leaving little or no opportunity for the dancer to exercise personal interpretation.

One of the surprises for me was the possibility to understand the ronda, the circle of social dancing in tango, as a improvisation type of choreography. The choreography consists about the form, the dance circle, the lines and  the spacing among the dancers. The couples are advancing in the line of dance but their steps are created for the moment so the dance itself is improvised.

Some planned steps in the autumn forest!

British Dictionary definitions for choreography Expand