The title of this article is the second half of the title of one of the best descriptions of choreography I’ve ever read. Roslyn Sulcas wrote a year-end article in the New York Times summarizing the most memorable performances she had seen during the year. The article is called “Leading Bodies, Stirring Imaginations”, and it begins with a superb description of the art of choreography:
"CREATING a dance involves much more than inventing steps for dancers. It needs a judicious eye for visual and spatial effect, a sense of timing and an instinct for building attention, for varying the mood and creating an overall theatrical arc that draws an audience into the world of the dance. Thinking about my favorite dance watching moments of the year, I realized that they all involved a sense of wonder at the skill with which the choreographers had woven these elements into a whole, making every aspect of a dance feel not just necessary, but inevitable."
The actual process by which a choreographer creates a work varies tremendously; in my own work with choreographers I’ve seen many approaches, and sometimes different approaches by the same choreographer to different works. Whatever that process is though, it must have as its focus that “overall theatrical arc that draws an audience into the world of the dance”.
As it turns out, there is perhaps no better description of the principles for selecting music for choreography, and blending that music into a Sound Design, than the exact same paragraph from Ms. Sulcas’ article. It could read like this: “Creating a Sound Design for a dance involves much more than selecting music. It needs a judicious ear for what will enhance the visual and spatial effects of the dance, a sense of timing and an instinct for building attention, for varying the mood and creating an overall theatrical arc that draws an audience into the world of the dance.”