Within a lot of the dance formats currently offered in the group exercise world, you have the ability to freestyle choreograph your own dances to include in your class. This is great for those instructors who love creativity, have dance backgrounds, or do not memorize material very effectively. But sometimes, instructors get too creative and choreograph songs that are too complicated for their participants. So how can you ensure that your freestyle choreography is acceptable for the typical general population class?
In strength-based fitness classes, we preach that repetition makes the body stronger. We feel fine repeating the same dumbbell or body-weight movement for 8+ repetitions. When is the last class you taught where you said: “ok, now just one bicep curl. Great, let’s move on.” Not going to happen, right?
Dance fitness and typical dance classes have a lot in common, but one thing they differ in is the amount of repetition per “dance song.” If you are a dancer moving into the fitness world, remember, the people in your class are not dance or fitness professionals. By the time you are sick of teaching a specific dance fitness movement, your audience is probably just getting the movements perfected. In fact, if you expect your class to have a move perfected in one attempt, you are kidding yourself. Repetition is key for our bodies to fully understand a movement. This is why most pre-choreographed dance fitness formats are quite repetitive in their movements, limiting the amount of choreography per song so the class participant can practice the movement before moving forward.
Keep this in mind as you create your own masterpieces. You are allowed to do more than one repetition of a dance move. You are allowed to repeat the chorus choreography for every chorus of a song. Sometimes, less choreography is better for your dance fitness class.
Skip the Technique
Technique is important in a dance fitness class, but only to certain degree. Yes, we want people to correctly execute the movement. However, it is much more important that they are enjoying themselves while moving. A dance fitness class is not the time to create drills where you overly cue exactly where every body part should be, go, or do; save that for your equipment based classes where safety is a huge factor. For dance fitness, relax yourself and let the participants just move. Who cares if they are on the left and you are on the right. Does it really matter if their arm is slightly bent or pinkies are down? Are they moving? Smiling? Grooving? Great, keep going. You are doing your job just fine.
Keep it Simple
We all get creative blocks sometimes. There will be days where no choreography comes to you. It happens. How should you alleviate that? Keep it simple. Walking, squatting, and lunging are dance moves!!
Go back to fitness basics and see what you can use in that terminology bank, skipping the dance bank altogether. Sure, the choreography will be simple, but that is what your class needs. Try not to constantly boggle their brains with dance movements that are unfamiliar to new class members. Some dance songs need to be super simple so their bodies can keep moving, but their brains can cut back slightly.
Freestyle choreography is great because it brings a sense of your own personality to the class. Don’t shy away from the idea of creating your own content. But when you create this new content for your class, make sure it is appropriate for the general population. This is dance fitness, with the key word being fitness.
Videotape your choreography
Check out these great tips on how videotaping your choreography can greatly improve your retention, help you discover coaching flaws, and simply give you a choreography catalog that makes more since then scribbles on a sheet of paper! Repeating the same song or dance routine will be a fun chance for your participants to “perform” – giving them something they are comfortable with and allowing them to let loose!
What else do you do to master the art of freestyle dance choreography? Let us know in the comments below!