If you’re new to organizing amateur dance, listen up. The choreography is the easy part. Which part of the performance puzzle demands the greatest skill, patience, and perseverance? — Scheduling!
The requisite number of dancers must come together at the same time and place, CONSISTENTlY.
If the scheduling piece is not in place, aborted starts and stops will frustrate everyone involved and defeat the very thing a choreographer needs most — the dancers desire and confidence.
When working with amateurs, the minimal rehearsal frequency is twice a week. Start by building popularity via classes. (One of Balanchine’s famous quotes is, “First, a school”) You need to achieve a critical mass of group enthusiasm prior to your first rehearsal. You know that you’re ready to begin when you hear dancers asking YOU for more time.
Even then, you need to sustain their interest by satisfying several common desires besides a love of dance. Provide an experience that is fun, efficient, productive and tribal). Rehearsal can be serious, but they must remain fun even when difficult, especially when difficult.
Convenience is key. Rehearsal must follow directly after class; and keep it short. An hour is a long time for an amateur who has already dedicated 90 minutes to taking class.
Every chance you get FOSTER A SENSE OF COMMUNITY.
At the SF JCC, I’m waiting to be allotted a space immediately following my Saturday class; and the students are requesting a second class session per week. They increasingly take the center floor in my class without my asking them to move forward. (In other words, they are gaining confidence.)
The jigsaw pieces of the puzzle are falling into place! We are almost ready to begin.