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“Green”(Photo by Maria Barnett, courtesy of CPYB).  Lead Dancers: Daniela Aldrich & Kalab Elmore

THOUGHTS ON CHOREOGRAPHY by H. Sabas

Imitation in dance is common; I don’t necessarily think one is truly original and one really is truly copying. Each human entity has its own body, its own history.  Movement of previous generations and creatures are passed on through time. Magic happens when an artist takes a risk and explores movement. Even though a choreographer uses something familiar, he or she takes that experience, works through it and reinvents.   Dance is an art that recycles and evolves.

My beginnings as a choreographer were based on comfort and convenience. I started creating using familiar moves because it felt “safe”, but as I evolved through further studies in New York, getting introduced to the concept of creating movement without music and gaining exposure to what I would call “extreme” performance arts, it was then that I began to discover my niche. My composition teacher taught me to understand that dance should be able to stand on its own without music and still be visually interesting. I must admit, it was a hard philosophy to comprehend because music has always been a big influence in my dance life. My first works were music-inspired and that’s how I started choreographing. In retrospect, being led and inspired by music alone can sometimes be limiting as it can dictate upon discovery of raw movement vocabulary. Through the years of self-discovery in the world of choreography, I have been proactively applying my teacher’s advice. I began to understand the purpose of her wisdom. Music is a good starting point for inspiration and when composing dance, one has to keep in mind different characteristics of the music and be able to retain its integrity. However, dance composition will be more authentic if risks are taken in creating anything that feels different, organic and uncomfortable(a good word to keep in mind when thinking outside the box).

Choreography is the gateway to discovery of movement that is unique, an individual’s exploration of soul and mind and a journey into the very fabric of a person’s being. Getting out of one’s comfort zone and engaging in something that feels “uncomfortable” is a good thing because this process leads to new movement discoveries.  It challenges one to delve into something potentially unique and undiscovered. From my perspective, this kind of dance creation provides a sense of fulfillment or affirmation of accomplishment. In hindsight, perhaps the most interesting pieces of work are those that are created out of the norm.

“Synchronicity”(Photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of BAE).  Ailey Citigroup Theatre, New York.