Between the five of us we have certainly had some varied themes for our routines! This week we asked the girls to tell us about the process they go through when deciding on music and costume to use for a competition entry! For some it seems that theme is half the battle and if not done right can mean the difference between succeeding at a competition and a routine falling flat. Even if your pole moves are on point, if there is no theme, costume or dramatic flair to the performance then it becomes more difficult for the judges and the audience to connect. Let's hear what the girls have got to say around the subject...
I dont have vast amounts of experience around competitions with this being only my second ever! However I am sure I make up for it with my fussiness and demands for my husband to create my music mash ups! I generally have a rough idea of what theme I like to turn my hand to but can spend hours going on YouTube trying to encapsulate exactly what I envisage with eventually ending up with something completely different! I like to throw myself into my themes and the performer category allows me to do this despite all the nerves that creep in. My current theme is probably my favourite as I have always been a fan of the music and it reminds me of days in my bedroom choreographing my best dance routines when I was younger!! I find that I am much quicker in choosing my theme than I am my routine and have been known to make life harder for myself as I want specific pieces of music to add variety. I never feel 100% that I am every truly finished in tweaking my routines and can always see room for improvement....I guess that's what spurs me on to continue practising as much as possible in the run up to the competition.
Would I ever repeat a performance....not likely....hearing your routine music that many times before a competition is enough to make anybody fancy a change! Haha!
To decide the theme of my routines, I research movies/themes that would be compatible with aerial arts, and I make a playlist of music, go through all the songs I have chosen, chose one and put it on the speakers, and freestyle a routine or combos previously made up to see which moves fit best and where in the routine they can go. I also film most of these freestyle/combo routines to look back at what I have done to see which dance/hoop/pole moves go best with each song. I narrow down to the song that suits me best (normally the most cheesiest) Once I have found a song I think fits what I am looking for, I use all my combo’s to create a basic routine, and I then start to look at the routine in a more complex way such as looking at transitions and any mistakes or moves that don’t fit in with the song or theme I have chosen.
It takes weeks to find the right song so I start working on combos and fixing the basics together in advance for the routine and this is important to me because I get nervous if I haven’t practiced my routine for a while or if I have to throw a routine together in a short period of time and doing the routine in advance, I know have a routine that I can find a theme the routine can fit with, even if it is before a competition. Although I will still be nervous, I know I have something to perform and once I’m performing, I turn into a diva and use acting to the best of my ability to fit my theme. However, the costume is always important too, because it’s the presentation that is the first thing the audience will notice, as well as it helps get you into character for your performance.
So when I previously chose to do a ‘Grease’ themed routine to “Grease Lighting” the song was catchy and the dance/hoop moves fit perfectly to the music, however I had to think about my make-up, costume and hair that fits the era of the 50’s.
After researching the 50’s fashion and hair styles, I ended up with rollers in my hair and the ‘Pink Ladies’ jacket from the original movie. This routine was also my favourite routine because it had everyone up clapping, singing along and enjoying my performance which is all I look for in my routines, just to have fun and enjoy every minute, but also having a routine that everyone of all ages can relate too and enjoy.
SAAS Blog week three: Themes and concepts
Can't believe we are into the third week since we found out we were through to the comp! It's mad to think that just a few weeks ago I was drinking a ton of white wine and eating everything in sight! At the last weigh-in since starting to behave myself I actually weighed more than I did before I started! The boss says that's normal though so I will continue to stick with my macros and fitness plan and keep my fingers crossed that the weight comes off in the end!!! This weeks theme for our diary entries is the concept for our routines, the initial idea for theme and costume!
I find coming up with a theme quite difficult. I always search for something that doesn't require too much in the way of dance. I am not a dancer. I have loads of songs that I love that would make really good pole routines when someone else does it but it would just be sad if I tried! I think with theme you have to play to your strengths and I guess I am usually a bit weird, so weird is a good theme for me! Last year for Solent I entered beginner hoop, for this I used a kiss themed routine and painted my face like Gene Simmons. I enjoyed using the crazy makeup because it hid my face a bit and made it more like I was playing a character!
For doubles me and Lauren obviously have a bit of a problem in that there is a gap in ability. Coming up with a theme that doesn't dull her down too much but also doesn't make me look like a potato next to her is difficult! We have been known to sit in the car or the office for ages and ages looking through songs just to come up with a suitable theme! In terms of music I usually ask my brother for help. He listens to a lot more music than I do and he has a good ear for music that has the right beats for moves to hit!
Right, the concept and theme part of routines are what tend to take me the most time to decide on/find. I can also get distracted with elaborate theme ideas that in my head would be amazing, but then either when trying it or sharing the idea with others it’s made obvious it wouldn’t work. Each time I make up a new routine I try to do something different to what I have done before and also different to what others have previously done. Originality goes down well at competitions. For me I have to work out my theme and music first before making up combos or new moves as I like to listen to the music and see how different things work, if there’s highs and lows in the song and things like that. I tend to play around with the song in the background and go from there. The first ever hoop routine I chose a dubstep version of Swan Lake and pole was Just Give Me a Reason by Pink. Since then I have used quite a varied selection from AC/DC, violin instrumentals, Disney, Blues Brothers and Charleston, so I think this is why sometimes I struggle to try and find something different and original to do next. Training is still going well in the gym, but will be good to get back to the studio next week to start putting routines together.
I've only had to go through the process of choosing a theme twice so far and they were both my video entries for the Solent competition and they both took me ages! For both my pole and hoop routines I started by finding songs. For hoop I wanted something with variation in speed and dynamics to show that the choreography moved with the music. I'd also been advised that it was best if the song is vaguely recognisable to most people to give them less to think about; they can concentrate more on the actual routine. I was also trying to find something a bit edgy and a bit different to what anyone had heard before, like a remix or mashup. It should also have a strong theme so that a costume could match it. This theme business was more complicated than I expected! I thought I'd found the answer in the Versus remix of Lorde's version of Everybody Wants to Rule the World. It is recognisable, a bit different and does have a lot of dynamic contrast. It could also be themed with some kind of villain style getup or even an Assassin’s Creed outfit as it's used as the trailer music for the new game.
Once I started down the choreography path I found that the song has quite a lot of long, quiet sections and these were very difficult to make interesting especially with a limited range of tricks available for the Beginners’ hoop category. I was also struggling with floor work as there was no specific dance style I could use and I don’t yet have the flexibility to do the type of floorwork that would fit well. I decided to start my hunt for a song again. This time I started by finding songs that have strong themes to begin with: songs from films. By this point I had already made up a couple of long trick combos that I was happy with so had to hope that they would fit nicely slot into the song I picked. I ended up choosing Pirates of the Caribbean and thankfully the combos fitted, with the more dynamic sections of the routine slotting into the dynamic sections of the music. The costume was quite easy too!
I've learned several lessons from this process that I'm going to apply to the Solent final. I have a few ideas buzzing around my head at the moment and they all start with theme. They involve film music, specific dance styles, mashups and songs that the audience will enjoy. I want the music to be big and entertaining because this will help me perform and connect with the audience more. This time round I will find some combos that I want to put into the routine but I’m going to try to choreograph from the music more so that it fits really well and so that I can incorporate more dance. Costume-wise I’m going to go for something simple but effective… avoiding items that can fall off easily!
Once the studio is open again next week (I can’t wait! :)) I’ll be running some ideas past people and trying out some moves to the various songs I’ve chosen. If I get theme nailed down soon I’ll have longer to create the routine and practise (and practise with the costume!). That’s the plan anyway; watch this space!
Staff and students of Julie's Dance Studio, based in Sholing, Southampton.