Making Group Choreography

I love making up choreography for pole. I usually teach a new routine every week, but recently have started working on group choreography.

A few years ago I choreographed ‘Spring Awakening’ at my local theatre with quite a big cast. I have done a few different group pieces since then but this is the first time I have worked on a group piece for pole.

We are doing a Pole Charity Christmas Showcase and are doing a group piece to Cell Block Tango from Chicago. It’s a really exciting piece and I love how it’s coming together.

How To Start

Choreographing for a group is so different to work on a solo piece, so it takes a lot more thinking about. Here’s how I go about it!

1. Know What You’re Working With

Hopefully you’ve already got to this point and have chosen a song suitable for a group piece. If not, go and do that now 🙂

You then need to find out what you’re working with. How many people are in it and what levels they are, how many poles, how much room around the poles, and are they static or spinning?

Some of these details may change, but it gives you a good place to start.

2. Start At The Beginning

I know this might sound silly and obvious, but we need to start working on the start from the very beginning. It’s super important to make sure that you wow the audience from the offset. Start as powerfully as you mean to go on. Does everyone walk on stage, or start on stage? Do they move on one by one?

I like to ‘surprise’ the audience by not letting them know how many people are in the piece. In this piece, we start with 3 onstage, 6 shortly walk on and another 2 join in later. There are a lot of us 🙂

I take quite a lot of time working on the beginning. As songs usually build up slowly, you need good solid moves to open. Nothing too technical or advanced, but nice, polished moves to ease the audience into it.

3. Work On The Main Characters First

Assuming that everyone will get their turn on the pole, I start splitting the music into sections and give each section a ‘main character’. There can be more than one person in this section as joint main characters.

I focus on one person at a time. There is always a theme through out each section – sometimes it’s a move, like a pirouette or hold that keeps getting used, or a story so that the characters can interact. When one character is complete I work on any other main characters and then the background.

4. The Background

You always want to have something going on in the background, but nothing too distracting. I like to have everyone in the ‘background’ moving very slowly or subtly so that they are ‘alive’ if the audience watch them, but they don’t distract from the main story.

5. Take It One Step At A Time

Whenever I choreograph a piece for a group, I take it one chunk at a time. The song I’m currently working on is 7.22 mins long and if you choreograph all of it at once, you might realise that certain parts don’t quite work, and you may need to re-do a whole section.

Taking it chunk by chuck means you can see how the story evolves.

6. Take Risks And Get Rid Of The Rubbish

Doing group work means you can try new things. You can add in doubles or big choreography sections. You can challenge people. If it doesn’t work or if you don’t like it, you can get rid of it!

I always tell people in the group piece to tell me if they don’t like anything they are doing. You want everyone to look and feel confident on stage – it will show if they’re not!

7. Enjoy It

Group work is so much fun. Really take your time with it and enjoy it. Listen to everyone involved so that everyone gets to add in moves they love.

What group piece will you choreograph next? 😀

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