Dance solos are challenging to choreograph, remember, and perform. Being the only one on stage is a much different feeling than being with several other people. Here are some things to think about when you’re choreographing a solo for yourself or a student.
1. Plan – Before starting choreographing, learn as much about the song and the performance as you can. Make sure the songs you chose from will be appropriate for the production and are the right length. As for the performance, make sure it is geared to the right audience. Being prepared and organized for the production will help set your mindset for choreographing.
2- Pick a song – Listen to different types of music and see which one you can draw the most inspiration from. Connecting with the song is important for solos because the attention will be on you the whole dance. Facial expressions and dramatic movements will be necessary for the audience to connect with you, so make sure you connect to the song first. Try to imagine yourself dancing to this song and what combinations you will do. Write down the mood and other thoughts that come to your mind when listening. Count the beats on a sheet of paper and get to know the song as best as you can.
3- Dance to the music – Start letting the music move you while listening to the song over and over. You will start picking up on certain moves that work well with the music’s rhythm or lyrics. Continue doing these distinct steps with specific parts of the music. If you are teaching the choreography for a solo, try both dancing to the song with no set steps and see where that takes you.
4- Fill in the gaps – By now, you should have a general understanding of the song and what the lyrics mean. Look back at the moves that you always do for certain parts of the song. Keep those in mind while you fill in the gaps with other steps. Choose steps that go with the rhythm, mood, and tempo of the song. Make the distinct steps the highlights of your solo, showing energy and passion through your entire body.
5- Write it down – Writing the steps down may sound like a waste of time, but it will help you (or the dancer) memorize the dance better. Seeing the whole dance on paper is a great way to see the dance “from a larger view.” Look and see what kind of steps you’re doing – Should you add more turns? Do you have each kind of move that you know or want to do? Don’t be too stuck to the original choreography – it can always change!
6- Practice and Perfect – Take time to really practice this dance. Go over your steps and make sure they make sense together. Change things around if they get boring. This can only be done after practicing – to perfect the performance. Practice so much that you do the moves without even thinking.
7 – Performance time! Don’t think about your solo dance the day before the performance. Try to relax and think about other things. You don’t want to think too much so that you freeze up on stage. Then, dance your heart out!