A message from the editor: Everyone creates and works in different ways. Some performers may do best writing things down and planning while others might do best when they just go for it and improvise. This is how one of our former Fly Studios instructor/show choreographers puts together a performance.
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There are many ways to draw inspiration for creating aerial choreography. One way is by being inspired by moves you like to perform. Any choreographic piece requires planning and thorough thinking. The following are a few tips I personally use when I choose to choreograph with the inspiration of gathering moves.
1. BEGIN WITH A LIST
When you are choreographing by putting together a puzzle of moves, you must begin with a list. Begin by writing down a list of all your favorite moves or those moves you would like to include in the performance. When putting the moves together, regardless of your apparatus, take into consideration the stamina required for each move and the difficulty of the moves.
2. KEEP YOUR STAMINA IN MIND
Try not to group too many difficult moves together or moves that require the most stamina too close within the sequence of moves. This may cause you to get too tired in the air in the middle of the performance and make you unable to perform the next move to the fullest of its beauty. You must always remember that you should try to look seamless and effortless while in the air. It is part of any performance to look graceful and this may not translate if it looks like you are getting tired in the air.
3. ALLOW FOR REST
Plan for moments of rest or resting moves within the choreography. Most of us will get so excited in our minds about the visual picture of what the performance will look like that we forget that we need to rest in between some of the moves. Resting moves can be used as beautiful transitions that will allow you to regain strength for that final drop or exquisite ending! If you are on tissue or hammock, you can include a straddle back or a perch, for example. If you are on lyra or trapeze you can include straddles, laying splits, or simply sitting and swinging/spinning to rest. You can also use this resting pose as a way of connecting with the audience a bit more by using graceful hand movements or facial expressions that will enhance your performance.
4. KEEP YOUR LEVELS FLUID
Try not to go up and down or on and off your apparatus during your performance. When choreographing your piece, try to create one that builds towards showcasing the most interesting moves. Getting up and down from your apparatus many times during a performance can take away from the most important moment of your performance as it can confuse the audience.
When you create a piece that requires a knot on the tissue, for example, it may be wiser to use the knot as your starting point or ending point during the choreography. If you are up in the air, then you come down, make a knot, do a spin, go back up for a few moves, and then back down to swing, it may not be as impactful to an audience because they are trying to figure out if you are leaving or staying on the stage during the performance. If you want to spin in a knot and also want to add a slack drop in a knot, group those two moves together rather than separately so they can use the same knot. Remember that performances are beautiful illusions we create for our audience.
5. BE OPEN-MINDED
Be open-minded when creating! Not all of the most difficult moves are the most mesmerizing. Simple moves that show flexibility or strength can be very impactful and can also add beauty to your performance. So don’t think you need to have only “power moves” in your piece.
6. DON’T USE YOUR HANDS!
Lastly, don’t use your hands too much! This might sound funny and probably has you thinking “but I have to hang on with my hands otherwise, I will plummet to the ground!” And you are correct; be safe and hang on tight at all costs! What I mean is try to minimize the number of times you move your hands on the apparatus. For example, if you are doing a lay back on lyra, reach with your hand for the highest point on your lyra and pull yourself to sitting using your abdominal strength rather than reaching low on the lyra and having to do several climbs up. Limiting these motions will make the transitions in between moves look cleaner.
Always remember to have fun while creating your piece and be aware of your strengths and showcase those. Since it can sometimes be difficult, as aerialists, to look at ourselves in the mirror to work on fine-tuning our performance, record yourself and review it or have one of your peers observe your performance and give constructive feedback.
We are all unique creators and performers so lean on those things that make you YOU. Being you is what makes you special – FLY with your beauty!
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This article was written by Samantha Planchart. Born in Venezuela, and raised in both Venezuela and the United States, Sammy was a ballerina for 22 years. Throughout her years as a dancer, she also explored other types of dance like jazz and contemporary. At age 15, national critics considered Samantha the number one dancer in her country. Samantha also studied theater and performed with Fernando Yvosky and Grupo Thespis in Caracas, Venezuela. Then she moved back to the United States where she studied Yoga at Golden Bridge Yoga, and music at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, California. She entered the world of aerial arts through FlyStudios, where she has found another home for her artistic expression. Sammy lives with her daughter in California, where she teaches aerial arts and yoga.
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