Q: We are bringing in guest choreographers to set pieces on our dancers for the first time this summer. My students are used to learning choreography from their directors over the course of a few weeks, and I’m worried they will struggle picking up so much in a condensed amount of time. How can I prepare them to learn movement quickly?
A: Learning how to pick up guest choreography is such a great experience for all dancers. Congratulations for taking on that challenge. I’ve found that workshop classes can be an excellent tool for teaching dancers how to pick up choreography quickly. The combinations at workshops are usually taught at a fast pace, since time is limited, and are a great way to prepare students for the full choreography session. Try hosting workshops at your classes regularly in preparation for the incoming choreographer.
Whenever we have a new guest choreographer in town, I hire them to teach an open class before they start their choreography. This allows dancers to practice the style of their choreography while simultaneously allowing the choreographer to see how our dancers move. It also gives some of our students who may not be in the piece the opportunity to work with the guest teacher.
As studio teachers, we are the meat and potatoes of our dancers’ education, but adding in some guest choreography work is the delicious gravy that will be largely beneficial to their training.