There is no right or wrong way to choreograph. Each person has their own way of doing things; you just need to find what works best for you. Here are some ways to take your dance from concept to choreography:
For most people, the first step of choreographing is choosing the music. Not all choreographers start with music, but for me it is the easiest way to start. If I were choreographing a dance just for the sake of dancing, I would choose something that inspires me to move.
The style of dance would be determined by how the music makes me move. If I have been given a specific theme and style then I need to find something that has the right lyrics to fit the theme and the right sound to fit the style. Trying to do hip-hop to classical ballet music would be very difficult!
When choosing music, there are many things to consider.
What style of dance do you want to choreograph?
What style of music?
Also, you have to take a few questions into consideration when you think about lyrics:
Do you need the dance to tell a story alongside lyrics?
Is it just a dance for the sake of dancing?
In what setting will the dance be performed?
What music is appropriate for that setting?
For me the next step is editing the music to be the length I want. Usually I like my dances to be between 2 – 3 minutes long.
While listening to the music over and over during editing, my brain creates patterns and movements to determine the structure of the dance. I don’t have actual dance moves at this point, just knowledge of where the dance will begin and end, and the position changes, style/tempo changes that I want to happen.
After writing down notes about the structure, I then begin to fill in the gaps. For example if I have a section of music where I know I want the dance to move from stage right to stage left in 16 counts, I will play around will movements until I find something I’m happy with.
From there I can work on filling in the next section, or previous section if I haven’t done it yet. Often a dance doesn’t get created from start to finish. I choreograph bits here and there and when I get stuck, (which always happens) I leave a gap and come back to it later.
My biggest tip would be to write everything down, even if it’s just a random idea you have. There have been so many times when I’ve started choreographing, don’t write anything down, then by the next day I’ve completely forgotten what I created!
Some people can create dances really fast, or even on-the spot. For me this is not the case. Choreographing is a very time-consuming task that I often find very difficult and frustrating. But once I’ve finished, it’s fun getting to teach it to others and create piece to perform. It’s very rewarding seeing something you have created being performed by others.