I came very late to dance. 28 years old is when I walked into my first ballet class – a late bloomer to say the least. I keep wondering when people are going to “find out” I haven’t been dancing since age 3 like most other choreographers I know. The truth is, I’ve been doing some sort of movement and choreography my whole life. As a child a little gymnastics was followed by an intense desire to do the craziest things I possibly could on the monkey bars at school, much to the horror of the teachers at recess.This was followed by several years in Dance Drill Team, a year of cheerleading, and then some highschool musicals. Then, that was it. I went to architecture school, got my degree, moved to Atlanta, and started working in Atlanta area firms drawing at a computer all day. Wait. This is not what I wanted to do.
I went to an Atlanta Ballet performance in the early 90s and that inspired me to start taking class. That was all it took. It appealed to my love of musicality, big movement, and particularly the precision I had come to love from those Dance Drill Team days. This is what had been missing for me, and I soon added to it with contemporary dance, jazz, pointe, hip hop, aerial dance….you name it.
In my mind I will always be a student first, choreographer second. I’m a firm believer in the Pablo Picasso approach of mastering the technique before ripping it apart and making it more unique. My first approaches to choreography, choreographing jazzy showgirl numbers for Atlanta’s own Dames Aflame, let me be formulaic with my approach. Clean lines, sharp moves, all driven by the music. These tenets still hold true for me as I’ve branched out into aerial choreography with D’Air Aerial Dance, but I’ve also had to learn how to let go, especially when I began to choreograph more on the ground. I still love to nail those bass notes in the music with precise athletic timing but I’ve also had to learn when to just PLAY – try weird things, throw it out and start over, or even flip the piece around, do it backwards.
With a few pieces of contemporary/on the ground choreography under my belt, I saw Dance Canvas as a challenge to myself to see what I could bring to an audience with my strange, conv
oluted background, both in the air and on the floor. My biggest hope is that the audience will enjoy the story being told. I hope they find it both exciting and accessible. I also wanted to create a piece that my dancers found challenging and fun. Dance should never take itself too seriously.
My advice to new choreographers:
-Music! If you are not inspired by your music then your audience won’t be either. It’s the driving force behind all movement. And don’t be afraid to use something a little out there.
-Don’t be too esoteric. Yes, it’s ok to push the boundaries of what you are trying to say, it is art afterall, but on some level dance is still entertainment and you want to connect to the audience. That’s not to say be commercial. Just be honest.
-Don’t follow dance “trends” – do YOUR thing. As long as you enjoy it and your dancers enjoy it, likely your audience will too.
Thank you so much for reading about Beth’s story! We are super excited to present Beth’s one of a kind piece in our 2017 Performance Series this month! Purchase your tickets now here! You won’t want to miss our amazing show!