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What are some abstract concepts that a choreographer might create a dance about? List a minimum of three.  

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Dani Alexis Ryskamp, J.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Here are a few I've seen done and/or choreographed myself over the years:

  • "Ascension." This was a conceptual marching band show I saw last year; the dance/movement/equipment book involved a lot of upward, expansive motion.
  • "Hope." I still think of this one as "the flowy show." There was a lot of smooth movements; we tried to eliminate as many sharp motions, straight lines, and edges as possible.
  • "Postcard." I ended up abandoning this one, but the idea was to evoke the same feelings as receiving a picture postcard in the mail, without actually being so literal as to, say, put giant prop postcards on the stage. I had a lot of fun exploring various dance genres here.
  • "Loss." It's probably the most commonly-done conceptual show on this list, but that's because there's also a lot of potential depth. You can play with types of loss (lost objects, lost loves, lost minds), the process of losing something, lost vs. found, and so on.

Some things to consider when choreographing a conceptual piece:

  • Don't automatically avoid being literal (unless your assignment/show specifically tells you not to), but don't go halfway. If you're going to be literal, be super literal. For instance, the "Ascension" show had dancers literally climbing giant mountain props at one point, while the music also climbed a two-octave scale. Let your music guide when you're being literal and when you're not.
  • Think expansively. For a "loss" piece, for instance, what sort of shapes/smells/sounds might you associate with a concept of loss? I saw one dance piece done on this theme, years ago, where the principal dancer played the part of a black rose—the choreographer had gotten there by thinking "loss -> funeral -> black -> flowers."
  • That said, don't try to do every aspect of a concept in a single piece. You're not going to cover every possible portrayal of "hope" or "loss," for instance. Use expansive thinking to get into corners of the concept that maybe haven't been explored as much, then do a deep dive into one of those (like the "black rose" piece).

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