Is choreographing even a real job? This is what parents would normally say to their kids if they came up with such an idea. Having this picture in mind could help us understand why a great amount of support is needed in order to succeed in the creative industry.
A choreographer’s job is the same as any other artist’s, to lead by inspiration. To show others the possibilities of what could be done through the combination of various factors, but always focused on dance. It is not an easy job and it takes a lot of imagination, creativity, discipline and a daring spirit, as you will read in the following section while we describe a day in the life of a choreographer, not any choreographer but Cape Town Dance Company’s artistic director Rafael Bonachela, whose working process is exposed through the “Sharing Spaces” series on youtube.
More than a dancer
It is easy to get confused about what the actual role of the choreographer is. Is he at all different from a dancer? To make an easy distinction we will say that a choreographer is the person who creates the piece that will be performed by a single dancer or a group of them. They work together, and they both collaborate with each other but the dancers always follow the instructions of the choreographer.
A choreographer’s job involves creating movement out of anything and being able to use that movement to create a story, a whole new experience for whoever is a part of the audience. It involves thinking of your dancers and of the best way for them to interact with the idea and let it become a part of them, it involves thinking at the same time of the delivery of that idea and the receptivity of the audience.
Inspiration can sometimes be the hardest part of the creative process, you start with a white canvas, that can remain white until something you see, hear, feel or experience sparks an idea and every things goes on from there. Getting inspired should not only be a process you do every time you need to come up with a dance, instead it should be a part of your lifestyle, you should do things every day that somehow inspire you to expand your thoughts and try new things.
But then there is that specific inspiration, the one you need for the project you will work on, that inspiration can come from a word, a song, a movement, an image, a texture, and it is then when you start connecting the dots to other things that have also inspired you previously and something unique is born.
To the blank canvas you add gestures, layers, textures, sound, movement, and you start connecting these pieces to each other until a relationship between all of them is born and the music, bodies and other elements start connecting.
When dreams and reality collide
Not only hours but months of rehearsals, modifications and more modifications follow the inspiration process. This is the time when everything starts coming to life, from defining the dancers formations, to making transitions clear to adjusting the use of space and once the dance is finished , the process of choosing and testing costumes starts.
The combination of dance, music, lighting and other visual effects are what help make the initial idea or dream a reality. All of these elements impact our senses and introduce us to the world that has been created for our entertainment. Different aspects of ourselves connect and disconnect with the piece as we are taken on a journey that goes far beyond where each of the elements could take us if they were to be presented separately.
As an artistic director, Bonachela’s job goes beyond dancing, or simply choreographing, but he is the responsible for making sure all the elements contribute to communicating the initial concept in the best way possible.
Working with a greater team
Cape Town Dance company has the success it has because of the great team that works behind the scenes. There is a team that works with the idea and choreographs it in order to express it, such expression keeps developing through the people who capture the idea in image in order to promote and see how it communicates better to the potential audience. Amongst these hard workers we can also find the people that work on the costumes, that are the first impression you get from a dance and which are made to fit for each dancer.
So working as a choreographer is not a lonely job, but instead a fun job that challenges your creativity in every possible way. Tell us, In what other way is choreographing a great job?