Management & Learning

02. Are You A Choreographer?

You will need to be!

What is a Choreographer?

[noun] a person who composes the sequence of steps and moves for a performance.

The word choreographer is predominately used for performance in particular dance – a creator and planner of steps and routines. As a producer I use this word a fair bit because while I’m not planning a dance I am arranging a performance – a sequence of steps carefully curated to deliver a production. Let’s face it the event date and time has been advertised and a ticket purchased – patrons are coming whether you are ready or not!

Over many years I’ve come across a whole heap of unofficial titles and suggestions like ‘you need to be the captain on the hill’ – one of my least favourite suggestions, a ‘commander style approach’ which offers little effect working with diverse and multi-disciplined teams to deliver a seamless event. AND that’s the key – working with a team and delivering results.

What do choreographers do?

They design and often it’s also an opportunity to express their personality. It’s a challenging role with a lot of time spent inventing and editing. With a keen ear a choreographer is intently listening to music or the rhythm spending weeks or even months providing direction, pre-planning and making sure the right element falls in the right place at the right time, all the while making tweaks, changes, and adjustments.

There’s the development of script and interpretation – selecting rhythm and pace. Choreographers have distinct personalities. They tend to be creative, intuitive, articulate, expressive and innovative plus social, generous, cooperative, patient, tactful and know how to move forward their concept in preparation for delivery. This is why I often say to students learning the practicalities of producing – you are a choreographer? Your career will be demanding and requires a lot of confidence, creativity, skills, focus, determination, and a passion for what you do.

Producer = Choreographer

As a producer, similar to a choreographer, YOU are the person tasked with the responsibility to manage, coordinate and manage all aspects of a production right from the very beginning to the end. From developing ideas for the event, overseeing staff, operations and production through to onsite install, presentation and dismantle it all rests on your shoulders to make the arrangements, communicate with everyone and build the operation like one big jigsaw puzzle to come together with no pieces left over – with the exception of those contingencies you’ve got secretly squirrelled away just in case…

As the producer working across a wide range of different departments and connecting those departments of specialisation your sights are on the horizon working towards achieving a common goal – a successful execution. A well-grounded producer tries as much as possible to make sure that the purpose of any given event is well-defined, so as to know what is expected, and to also know what must be achieved. Identify your strengths and weakness from the beginning – you know what you are good at and what needs some work.

Who Am I? What makes me a Choreographer?

  • Excellent communication on all fronts
  • Good interpersonal skills and easily approachable
  • Keen attention to detail
  • 101 organized, coordinated, scheduled human
  • Proactive, creative thinker, collaborator, and doer
  • Multi-tasker who knows how to prioritise
  • Time management – keeper, enabler, and leader
  • Decision-maker
  • Top-notch negotiator
  • Leader and team player
  • Know what I know and smart enough to appoint those who know what I don’t

Remember – the success of an event relies on the team in the driver’s seat … you can’t be a chef, lighting operator, stage manager, camera operator, audio engineer … etc … etc …all at the same time when live. Believe me … the team is in the driver’s seat!

Remember YOU are the choreographer … creator … planner … stay on your game so everyone else around you can do the same!

Yolande (Lou) Smith

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