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What is choreography?

One of the most important aspects of all dance, including hip-hop, is choreography. Choreography is the art of creating a dance routine by grouping together and organizing different dance moves into sequences and patterns that can be done to a specific song, beat, or melody. Without choreography, planned and synchronized dance routines would be impossible. 

Dancers who practice the art of choreography are called choreographers. Choreographers are considered the innovators of dance. They can create dance routines for any number of people. Sometimes the choreography they create is just for themselves, and sometimes it can be for large groups of people to perform. 

When grouping together different dance moves, choreographers always try to do so in a way that enhances the beauty of the dance. However, the emotion and feeling they are trying to convey through the dance may change dependent on the specific song or occasion. Different choreographers will also use different styles to create their dances. While any dancer can learn to be a choreographer, it takes time, creativity, and a lot of observation to become good at this art. The best choreographers typically follow these three steps. 

Gathering Ideas

Choreographers are inspired by a number of things in their environment, including their own personal experiences, surroundings, and lifestyles. Most of the ideas choreographers get for dances come from traditional stories and cultures. Dance is a way to share their personal and community heritage with others. Additionally, choreography is a way for them to build upon traditional ideas and dances to make them more modern and accessible. 

Developing Dance Phrases

A dance phrase is a grouping of dance moves that expresses a certain feeling or emotion. By grouping dance moves together, choreographers make sure that the body is in continuous motion. This continuous motion is especially important when it comes to the execution of choreography, because when phrases and movements become isolated they can become awkward and ugly. Different dance phrases are used to express different sets of emotion, and can be repeated throughout the dance dependent on the rhythm of the dance pattern and the accompanying song or beat. 

Phrases in dance are used similarly to how they would be used in writing. Different dance phrases are placed together and organized to create an entire dance that conveys a certain idea, like a sentence. Typically, each dance phrase includes a short pause, or a powerful body move that distinguishes it from the other phrases within the dance. The complexity of the dance phrase is determined by the moves that it is made up of. 

Hip-hop dance is made up of a number of phrases that are either set to hip-hop music or used to communicate an important part of hip-hop history and culture. Like all dance, hip-hop demands constant movement and rhythm to be successful. 

Structure

The structure of the dance is what determines its purpose. When it comes to many religious and cultural dances, this structure is created to express religious stories and emotions convincingly and authoritatively. For hip-hop, this structure is used to communicate the culture and stories of hip-hop and its followers. Typically, dances are structured to tell these stories and create these emotions, but they are also influenced by the music they are set to, as dance is extremely dependent on the connection to music and beat. Without a connection to the music, choreography will fail. 

Like most arts, choreography takes time and dedication to learn and perfect. The best way to start on your journey to be a choreographer is to focus on yourself: on your connection to your environment, your culture, and most importantly – the music you are dancing to. To be successful, choreography needs to express something: an emotion, an idea, a story. By focusing on yourself and the things that are important to you, you can better understand what types of stories, emotions and ideas you want to express through your dance and choreography.

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