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The art of choreography

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I know we've had some earlier threads on choreography but I'm interested in learning more about what leads a choreographer in his or her art. Yes, in part, what drives them, what is their inspiration, in wanting to create, but, also, how their creative process evolves... Music first? Probably often the case...but if one has been asked to choreograph on a specific company or a group of dancers... What next? Music, body types, abilities... Does one try to observe dancers in class, or ideally performing, first, etc.?

I imagine the range of answers could be quite varied on this one.

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It will be a varied list. Some choreographers are inspired by music, others by graphic arts, still others by people that they know, and there are probably as many different answers to this one as there are choreographers. When you're presented with a company to set a ballet on, it's often the case that the choreographer looks over the "material" first, but some just walk in, and arbitrarily select people sight unseen! Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

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I read an article just recently (though it was written in Feb. 2002) regarding Stanton Welch's inspiration for 'Fingerprints'. I found it rather interesting. An excerpt below:

"Stanton Welch has brought a little bit of chaos -- at least, in theory -- to Tulsa Ballet.

'The idea I had when I began working on this ballet was about how a butterfly flapping its wings on one side of the world can cause a hurricane on the other side of the world,' Welch said. 'That's the shorthand description of chaos theory.'

'And that got me thinking about how little things that we do -- or leave behind, like fingerprints -- can create a large chain of events in other people's lives,' he said.

Out of these musings was born the ballet 'Fingerprints,' which Welch was commissioned to create by a genial cabal of regional ballet companies -- Tulsa Ballet Theater, Cincinnati Ballet, Ft. Worth/Dallas Ballet and the Washington (D.C.) Ballet."

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I found it on the internet. I don't have the link on hand as I cut and pasted it into a word document. Here's the title/author info, though. Plug it into Google and I'm sure you'll have success!

Ballet Preview: Butterflies and chaos

Choreographer Stanton Welch brings `Fingerprints' to Tulsa Ballet

By James D. Watts Jr.

World Entertainment Writer, Tulsa World

February 15, 2002

From what I've read on our future Artistic Director, it seems as if any and everything inspires him. I also particularly liked his inspiration for "Bruiser" and "Clear" as well


"Bruiser, he told me, is about the physicality of his art. He wanted it to appear like the Olympics of ballet -- athletic, competitive, and tough. "It's the pain of relationships expressed through dance," he said. Pain of the mind, pain of the body, pain of the spirit, all this is expressed. Dancers are paired off in mock boxing matches, and no one comes away without their share of bruises. "

Clear (from an article for Lighting Design written by Lisa Pinkham who did the lighting for the ABT production):

"We talked about the ballet in terms of who are the men and who is the woman, and what's going on? And it turned out to be a very simple idea: The men are chaos and the woman represents clarity and calmness. He had related part of his personal life to the ballet. In his own life there was a lot of chaos, but about one thing he was very clear, and that helped build the ballet.

The men's scenes are bathed in golden yellow with faint white patterns. When the woman enters, the stage is washed in deep blue causing the patterns to show up better, giving those scenes a very romantic and pretty moonlight-and-stars feeling. (Interestingly, the French word for clear, "clair," is also one of the words for light, as in "clair de lune," or moonlight.) The piece ends with the lead man holding the woman, who is reaching up to heaven or to the stars. The light fades down to one central spot on them, then irises down to just illuminate the woman's hand. "

Let me know if you can't find it. I'm happy to forward it or try to find it again myself.

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