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 Magazinechoreography 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

Jim Coleman

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

Jim Coleman

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

Eric Antoniou

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

Jim Coleman

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.

Health & Body
Getty Images

Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with dancers at Atlanta Ballet, offers tips for creating a more body-positive studio experience:

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by NYCDA
Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.

"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."

Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.

Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:

Keep reading... Show less
Broadway

We knew that Ivo van Hove and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's production of West Side Story would challenge our preconceived notions about the show.

But a recent Vogue story gives us a taste of just how nontraditional the Broadway revival will be. Most notably, van Hove is cutting "I Feel Pretty" and the "Somewhere" ballet, condensing the show into one act to better reflect the urgency of the 48-hour plot. (The choice has been approved by the West Side Story estate, including Sondheim, who has "long been uncomfortable" with some of the "I Feel Pretty" lyrics.)

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox