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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 (su-re.co)


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!






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Oktavianna Winda
Oktavianna Winda
Sep 09, 2021

I always write everything down in my notes app and it decreases the overthinking. The first thing I do if I'm stuck is to take a break and read what I've written. It helps me to get back on track. But, I've been forgetful lately. I guess I have to write down more

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clarissarahmanita
clarissarahmanita
Aug 19, 2021

It's good to read this because sometimes we need reminder to start simple and take one step at the time. Sometimes the creative block is simply just because I zoomed in to the details too quick.

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sitiindriani
sitiindriani
Aug 19, 2021

When I was a teacher in Environmental Park in Melbourne, I was asked to teach Indonesian culture and Sustainable Energy lessons. I didn't know anything about traditional dance, I only got the course when I was in Senior High School. But my seniors said that it's ok, they're just Australian kids and didn't know about Indonesian dance as well. So, I joined dance community and performed on Independence Day celebration one month after that. Overthinking before doing something is a problem. Courage is need for sure.

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Recently I learnt there are only 4 types of torso movements. This is helping me to understand when I draw torso.

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cynthiaismail
cynthiaismail
Aug 16, 2021

I often overthinking :P as public speaking is not my forte, I always trembled when I had to do it so I often forgot. Until one of my teachers suggested me to practice at least 5 times before the day. I followed his advice, and these days I do not have to take so much time if I have to speak. Preparation and practice help :)

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