top of page

Why Choreographers are Researchers

I've written several blogs about dance and research so get ready for a part 6! I see too much of a similarity between the two parallel universes, in regards to improvisation, authenticity, creativity, style, and movement. Now I want to stretch the topic my very first blog.

To recap, I see myself more as a freestyler versus a choreographer, two very separate types of dancers. Put on some beats and my body just starts to move automatically. I hardly remember my moves when I freestyle, which is why I find it so hard to choreograph. It's funny that I get to meet people on the opposite spectrum, where they can choreograph beautiful pieces within an hour, but struggle to freestyle. So imagine this video, but change "freestyle" into choreo.

The obviously unobvious answer is... practice. I simply have spent way more time freestyling than creating choreo. Not to say that I have not danced to other people's choreo. Learning choreo versus creating choreo are two also very different skills. Learning choreo is about following and practicing the mapped-out movements, while creating takes a whole other level of creativity and practice. I really don't have the habit of fixating movements, so I thought I should just start.

Here's a clip of the creative process of choreography:

I really can't explain my appreciation towards CJ Salvador's process. I just have so much respect to decisive people. I literally had recreate the start of my choreo maybe 3 times. My friend told me "you treat it too much like a science project, you cannot make every move the 'perfect' move". I should just decide first and see what happens.

This reminded me of how the leader of think-team Tak explained his research process. He started writing his PhD thesis day one. He doesn't wait until the research is conducted or after the experiment is done. He starts writing, because concepts are so abstract until you write it down. This will later help refine the research and you will actually end up somwhere.

I thought I needed some help, so I asked for guidance from a friend who has done this for more than 10 years. I was blown away of how quick she can come up with good movements. I learned two things. First, having a massive vocabulary helps. In research, reading more helps because the more you know the area, the easier you know where the gap is. In dance, the more movement you know, the easier it is to create, but be decisive.

Second, she knows how not to get caught up by the tiny details and just do what feels right at the moment. You can always revise the next day. Same in writing, when you have a writer's block, you don't force yourself to write more, you take a break and find inspiration. If I were to compare my process to research, it's like spending so much time doing literature review before writing down anything to the point that you read the 'wrong' papers. I spent too much time visualizing which movement is best for the song, without actually trying the movements. So it's about finding that balance of reading and writing, visualizing and dancing, so that you always move forward even if it is just a 1% improvement. Read more here: [Vision] Think small, focus on 1% improvement, and wait enlightenment (

I explained my concept for the choreo to my friend eventually finished a piece together. This may be my first time sharing my dance to the world in the web:

Not a bad draft I'd say, there are a few things I'd like to tweak and clean. But again, it the first draft doesn't have to be the final version :)

With anything, the more you do it, the easier it gets. So in a way it was more of a mental practice than a physical one. I just needed to let go of the outcome and have a starting base to play with. I hope you learn to enjoy the process of anything after reading this post!

So, have you ever had any similar creative blocks? Whether that is in writing or cooking, has your mind stopped you from achieving something because you were simply 'overthinking'? Let me know in the comments below!

38 views5 comments

Recent Posts

See All

This list of questions was utilised to conduct our European Commission H2020 research project, TIPPING+, in understanding narrative-network dynamics in tipping processes towards low-carbon energy futu

bottom of page