I received a great question from a reader and I just had to share it and my response, and see what you readers think.
I just started taking dance seriously last year but I’ve always choreographed. I feel like my passion lies more in choreography and production than it does in dance and I was wondering: is it possible to be a good dancer but a great choreographer? If you’re, like, an 8 in dancing, is it possible to be a 10 in choreography and still have people’s respect?
Here’s what I think:
Yes! I think it’s possible to be a great choreographer yet less-than-stellar dancer. In fact, throughout history it’s certainly happened.
But… (you knew there would be a ‘but’).
Great choreographers (particularly the ones we recognize by name) in this category still work very hard to be great dancers.
Even though they are relatively average dancers among professionals, before gaining recognition as a choreographer, most achieve and reach heights in their careers as performers that are still above the norm for all dancers or dance students.
I believe there are two primary reasons for this:
- Experiences gained through work and study as a dancer help to shape who you become as a choreographer.
(Working with great choreographers is an excellent way to study great choreography and learn from it.)
- Working among accomplished dancers and choreographers leads to opportunities and invitations to choreograph.
(Who you know and have worked with does matter.)
Your definition of greatness
Not all great choreographers are widely known or remembered throughout history.
I know several who are not famous at all. They receive little recognition and few rewards. They are great for other reasons, usually having to do with passion for their craft, commitment to originality and excellence, and perseverance to get their work made whether they are recognized and rewarded or not.
No matter how you define greatness, though, my point is the same:
Even if you think choreography or the production side of things is your goal or life’s work, work just as hard, if not harder, on becoming the very best dancer you can be.
It is an investment in your future as a choreographer.
Readers, what do YOU think?
Can you name some great choreographers who were/are so-so dancers?
What does it mean to be a great choreographer?
How would your response differ from mine?
There are always exceptions. Who are they?
Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world. Read Nichelle’s posts.