How to Choreograph a Line Dance

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As of the writing of this post I have choreographed one line dance. This first one is an ultra-beginner, four wall line dance and I created it specifically to aid my dancers who have little or no vision, in making turns. So, I have just a tiny bit of experience choreographing, but I will share with you the sites I have found to be helpful in choreographing a line dance.

OUTLINE THE SONG

First, Robert Royston does a very nice job of outlining the process for choreographing a line dance.

This video is great for getting you started and may be enough. But if you want to delve deeper into choreographing your first line dance, continue reading.

CHOREOGRAPHY BASICS

Next, I recommend this article from Max Perry. Click on this link, and you will be taken directly to a PDF: Choreography Basics by Max Perry.

A snippet from the article:

“CHOREOGRAPHY BASICS By: Max Perry To choreograph an effective routine, a dancer will use several techniques to create a dance that will not only fit the music, but will feel good when danced. The tools we use as choreographers are knowledge of the dance components, a basic idea of phrasing music, and an idea of how the material is to be used.”

With those two under your belt, I invite you to read this article from Norm from Dance with Norm. This link will take you directly to a PDF entitled Basic Line Dance Terminology. This article will help you to know the names of various line dance steps. Bear in mind that country line dance steps may have a different name than the same steps when soul or urban line dancing.

This site also includes a list of line dance steps: Roots Boots Line Dance Terms and Definitions.

STEP SHEETS

Next, I want to touch on step sheets. First off, it is not necessary to write step sheets; however, I feel it is an important way to immortalize your line dance.

I will admit it is a challenge to even know to read them, let alone write them.

One big challenge in reading step sheets is that the exact same steps can have different names.

When you’re writing step sheets, you want to be as clear as you possibly can and Peter Blaskowski from KickIt has attempted to instill some guidelines to help with this challenge by writing a very helpful, thorough e-book called Kickish: The Language of Line Dance. This e-book has been extremely helpful for me in constructing line dance step sheets. Peter points out that it can be very confusing to learn a line dance from step sheets when people are using different terminology for the same steps.

For example, you want to be consistent in the way you describe the step. Here’s a snippet:

Consistency means saying the same thing the same way every time. This is sometimes called using a “single voice” throughout the step sheet. Any instruction in a step sheet can be written multiple ways:

“left foot – step to side”

“left foot step left”

“left foot step to left side”

“left foot step to left”

“left foot step to the left”

“left foot to left side”

“left foot to left”

“left side step”

“left side”

“left step left”

“left step side left”

“left step to left side”

“left step to side left”

“left step to the left”

“left to left side”

“left to left”

“left to side”

“left to the side”

“side step left”

“step left foot to side”

“step left foot to the left side”

“step left with left foot”

“step out left”

“step to left with left”

“step to the side with the left foot”

Notice how stepping forward with the left foot happens twice, but is described in two different ways. This inconsistency decreases readability. When a step sheet seems understandable in one section, but unclear in another, the most likely cause is lack of consistency. The proposed step sheet vocabulary will help a step sheet writer to keep a consistent voice throughout a step sheet.

Visit Kick It here for the article (opens as a PDF):  Kickish: The Language of Line Dance

Last but not least, Skippy Blair on Contemporary Social Dance: Disco to Tango and Back by Skippy Blair has just a few pages on line dancing, including a “Line Dance Formula” (on pages 43 and 44), but I would highly recommend it as reading material. The whole book, not just the pages on line dancing.

Skippy Blair on Contemporary Social Dance: Disco to Tango and Back/Plus Teacher’s Breakdown for the Universal Unit System

I am still studying Skippy Blair’s book, and learning a lot of very interesting concepts that I never realized about dancing.

I’d love to hear from you! Do you choreograph line dances, or are you just getting started? Leave me a comment or use my contact form to drop me a line.

One thought on “How to Choreograph a Line Dance

  1. Pingback: Contemplating Soul Line Dance | Line Dance Passion

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