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  • Writer's pictureLynn Armsby


Updated: Jul 20, 2019

I have often found myself in situations where I am being asked to produce new choreography for a lesson, class or for a lecture and it can be pretty daunting for even the most experienced professionals. Over the years with Latin American and to some extent ballroom I have come to appreciate that there are no new steps just steps which can be developed and changed. For example, for any figure danced in Latin American there are a number of changes that can be applied. When working in another dance genre they seem to come more easily as our training in contemporary dance involves being able to work with these changes. However in Latin American it took me a

lot of years to realise that exactly the same thing can happen.

As a starting point we could apply one of Laban’s four efforts

Direction: is the movement direct or indirect?

Speed: is the movement quick or sustained?

Weight: heavy or light?

Flow: bound or free?

A really useful resource for this is the 1994 book by Ruud Vermey, Thinking, Sensing and Doing in Latin American Dancing but don’t forget to read the original works of Rudolf Laban on which much of Ruud’s analysis of movement is based.

Try it for yourself. Take a movement such as Opening Out in the Rumba.

Change the direction you are facing, the speed at which you move into and out of the action, continue the action, rotate it, dance it high on your toes or lower into the floor. I guarantee you will end up with something that is not really recognisable as an opening out but something new.

The question to ask yourself is what if I just…………….

I have probably been slow to the table in recognising this, but there may be some of you who haven’t tried doing it in this way. I need to thank my brother Keith Clifton for starting me off on the journey. I was travelling abroad and expected to produce choreography. I got together with Keith and he told me what he does. “It’s easy” he said “just start with a figure….extend it…..rotate it……change the timing”. He is a clever devil. No wonder his son Kevin is so creative on Strictly.

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