Why Every Dancer Should Choreograph At Least Once, According to Boston Conservatory at Berklee
Hive by Boston Conservatory student Alyssa Markowitz. Photo by Jim Coleman
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
At Boston Conservatory at Berklee—which was just named a top school for aspiring choreographers by College Magazine—choreography courses are an essential aspect of the curriculum. "The skills you learn choreographing make you a better artist all-around, and help you build a diverse portfolio," says dean of dance Tommy Neblett. "Not to mention these skills are transferable to so many different areas within and beyond the performing arts."
Here's why Neblett recommends all dance students try choreography at least once:
1. You'll have a huge professional advantage.
What Goes Unsaid by Boston Conservatory student Brittany Brown
Even if your focus is as a performer, understanding the creative process behind telling a visual story makes you far more valuable to any choreographer or director, says Neblett. Not only do you understand their language, but you can speak it, too.
2. You'll become a better communicator.
Creating new work forces you to practice communication with your dancers and collaborators. Neblett believes that choreographing will give you the skills to clearly articulate your artistic vision, give productive feedback and generate meaningful dialogue.
3. You'll be inspired in new ways.
No Matter How Far They Wander by Boston Conservatory student Asia Pyron
Approaching dance from a choreographer's perspective allows you to think about the art form in ways you might not otherwise, says Neblett. It can unlock stores of creativity you didn't know you had, and that could translate into your artistry as a performer.
4. You'll learn from watching the final product.
There's nothing quite like watching your vision come to life onstage and seeing how audience members respond to it. It's also a great learning opportunity to see which moments translated well, and which didn't, says Neblett.
5. You'll have more freedom.
God Be With Us by Boston Conservatory student Brittany Brown
Professional dancers who can choreograph have more control over their career paths, says Neblett. If you're in between gigs or just feeling like a change, being able to switch gears and channel your creativity in a different way keeps you doing what you love and opens up new opportunities.
On a Hook by Boston Conservatory student Carly Cherone
As the leading school for contemporary dance and a recognized champion for emerging choreographers, Boston Conservatory believes that learning to choreograph is critical in the development of a well-rounded dancer. Learn more about Boston Conservatory's top-ranking BFA in contemporary dance and its many opportunities for choreographers at bostonconservatory.berklee.edu/dance.
The cast of Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise in rehearsal. Photo by Stephanie Berger, Courtesy The Shed
Akram Khan loves to dive into genres he is unfamiliar with. While his own movement vocabulary is a hybrid of kathak and contemporary dance, he has choreographed a new Giselle for English National Ballet, collaborated with flamenco artist Israel Galván and made a dance theater duet with film star Juliette Binoche. Now, in between touring Xenos, his final full-length solo, and several other projects, he's found time to tackle kung fu. Khan is part of the collaborative team behind Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise, a blockbuster musical based on themes of migration and the fight for survival, running June 22–July 27. Directed by Chen Shi-Zheng and featuring a score that remixes songs by Sia, it's part of the inaugural season of The Shed, a new venue in New York City.