I Can Haz Choreography?


(Please read that in the voice of Cher, re: makeovers).

SO, I’m working on a routine!

This is hard!

First, let me give you guys that advice I’ve been given, and then YOU give YOURS. Because, I’m stuck. I have this awful habit of re-inventing the wheel every time I dance to a song. No matter what I have written down (yes I’m being all official about it), every time my music starts, I do something different. HELP ME COMMIT.

Here’s what I’ve heard so far about The Process of choreographing (word? not a word?):

1. Choose 3 tricks and build your dance around them

This is sooooooo helpful. If you can think of the three tricks you want to include (your music can advise as to what feels right/fits the mood/theme), you can think about spreading them out well, THEN fill spaces between with transitional moves. GENUIS. I love a general layout for writing, why not dancing?

2. Waste time

It’s hard to remember while dancing (or choreographing) but it takes an audience at least a few seconds of watching a move to even register what you’re doing. So I think especially for the first 10-15 seconds of a song, extremely simple moves are a good way to ease into a dance… and make sure you’ve got everybody’s attention for when you’re ready for a trick. 

3. Make a list

…of everything you know how to do.

For me, I wrote down key words/phrases of the song I’m using (Running, by Jessie Ware) and a few moves that kinda conjured that emotion for me. 


“falling” (back hook spin, Juliet spin, recliner)

“running” (hang man spin, half bracket hold with “walk,” pirouettes, headstand “walk outs”)

“I just go weak” (spin in arch, bridge slide, back bend with extended leg)

…and a bunch of other stuff I don’t have names for. (That’s the annoying thing about pole… not knowing what the heck to call the stuff you know how to do).

Anyway, that’s all I got, and I’m stuck, guys! 

Here, listen to my song and tell me shit to do that you think would look good!

Also, please, share your tricks for getting the Choreography Muse to visit. I tried leaving her cookies and milk, but that might just work for Santa.

Happy twirls!



  1. I just started working on a new choreography today, which I think will be my sixth or seventh one, so I am starting to have a system that works for me. The first thing I do after selecting a song is to write out the lyrics in a word document. I keep the lyrics in one font color, then write down the tricks and spins I know I wanna do at certain moments of the music in a different font color, on the same line as the corresponding lyrics. Once I have the main moments pieced out, I start thinking about which transitions I wanna use, and how I can “build up” to the big tricks. This is where I plan out sections for spin, static, and floor work. I am also so specific with my note taking that I use a third font color to write down notes like “make eye contact with audience here”, “remember the hair flip here” and things like that.

    Then, once I have a mostly coherent plan written down, I take it to the studio, and try dancing it. I usually leave gaps in my notes for floorwork, since I’ve found that floorwork comes much more naturally to me when I just listen to the music and move around to it, than if I try to plan it all out. At this stage I mostly just try to see if all the tricks I have written down work, if my combos take up the right amount of time for where I have planned them, things like that. I always end up changing at least one combo, because I realize I either spend too much or not enough time on it, but this is my time for trial and error, so I’m okay with that.

    Then when I’ve made sure all of the pieces work, I try to run through the entire choreography. My main purpose at this point is to make sure that I won’t be too exhausted by the end of the song to pull off whatever crazy trick I decided to put at the end, and that everything runs somewhat smoothly. And then comes practice, and practice, and practice. I’ve found that the more secure I am in my choreography, the more fun I can have with interacting with the audience, which makes such a huge difference.

    This turned into a bit of an essay here, and it’s highly possible that none of this will work for you at all, but I think part of the fun of doing choreography is figuring out how your mind likes doing it 🙂 Good luck!!

  2. Nina’s comment is so unique and helpful! Okay Cathy, because I think you’re the bomb and because it looks like I’ve not succeeded at turning this into a post of my own, I want to give you my raw notes from a session I attended with Kelly Yvonne, pro choreographer, from the Midwest pole comp last year. 🙂 I took the notes on my phone so they’re very abbreviated, but hopefully there’s a nugget or two!

    Need a song with interest bc judges may be xhausted. Pop songs are risky bc people will anticipate. Can edit repetitive parts out. Keep the concept in mind. Have surprises, peaks, valleys: tempo pole moves. Spinny pole fits well with fast parts. Pay special attention to the parts outside the main melody. Dance THROUGH moves unless it truly is an accent you are hitting. Interpret destination moves with opposing emotion. A superman looks proud – could it be shameful. Place key runs then backfill. play on the human experience. Emotions are complicated. Use that. Give yourself 4-6 weeks to allow changes. Try to mix up mount and dismount. Remember profile/ directionality. Choose you current feelings for authenticity. Don’t be apologetic. Get it so solid that you can breathe through it.

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