Terry Simpson Studios’ students are provided with opportunities to develop and explore dance choreography from a young age in the Junior School through to the Senior School and the Full Time Vocational Coaching Programme.
Choreography empowers students to think of themselves as a creator, rather than a mimic, or a discipline. Many technical capacities can be taught by allowing students to choreograph, such as musicality, dance vocabulary fluency, expressive elements, and direction and spatial awareness.
There are different activities that are included in our classes to help the student arrange movement which eventually forms choreography.
Tertiary institutions expect a student to have experience in choreography when they audition. Our teachers equip students with these skills so that they are not at a loss when they audition.
For a student wanting to become a choreographer in their career, it is similar to moving into a position in management. A choreographer assumes a major controlling leadership role in all aspects of a dance production. He or she oversees the musical selection, dancers, costuming, lighting and all elements of the production.
Terry Simpson, the School Principal, has some very simple strategies for using choreography in the classroom. “Sometimes I say, ‘You make up the plié, you do the tendu’, and musically, it is great for them. You notice what they understand about music this way. I might also say to them, ‘It is an eight-bar ending, can you make up something to end this exercise?’, and we might use that. Often in a creative way, rather than a technical way.”
“Dancing is often about following instruction and the rules. To offer them the opportunity to be choreographing means that they have to drive the creative force rather than you. Particularly with children who find it hard to express themselves, it encourages them to think about how they feel about dancing. It gives them a voice. On the other hand, for the child who loves to create, it is an opportunity for them to show what they love to do. Very often if you have really creative kids, if as a teacher you are open-minded about it, you can incorporate their work.”
Choreography can also increase dance vocabulary fluency. Students can find out about steps in the body by finding steps through movement, and also by discovering how to talk about what steps can be used in what ways. Through choreography, students learn the logic of linking and transition steps, and the shape of movement phrases. Teachers can refine students’ understanding of direction and spatial awareness, pathways through space, and how these relate to individual steps, by allowing the student to choreograph floor patterns with simple steps.
Terry Simpson Studios choreographic training has provided a firm grounding for past students to produce award winning works during their professional careers:
Remi Wortmeyer - Principal Dancer, Choreographer and Costume Designer (Het National- Amsterdam)
Lewis Major - an award-winning choreographer
Jesse Scales - at Sydney Dance Company, where she has been lauded by critics for her choreography in the company's "New Breed" Program which annually showcases its dancers' choreographic talents.
Note: To view some of the current work of these past students please click on the hyperlinks included in their names above
Past Students Aby Drew (Ballet West UK) and Sean Schilling (Queensland National Ballet) performing in SACE Choreographic Workshop _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
“There was still no likelihood that we could make a living from dance. We were doing it because we loved it… We realized how full we felt; we were surrounded by music and dancing and joy.” - Alvin Ailey, American choreographer