Dancers learn, teach, choreograph pieces as a way to express themselves


Chloe Sun

BENDING BACKWARDS: Senior Hannah Liu stretches before dancing. Liu said she choreographs easier dances for younger students to keep them motivated to learn to dance.

Tessa Collinson and Leah Tan

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Behind every dance is a choreographer, whether it is a professional ballet or a 30-second dance on TikTok. While most people are content with learning simple dances on their own, Anna Beringer, member of Senior Company at Central Indiana Dance Ensemble (CIDE) and junior, finds herself at the dance studio nearly every day of the week to refine her skills. Currently, she is rehearsing for CIDE’s Mixed Repertory show on March 29. The show will showcase choreography created by students as well as professionals.

Beringer said, “Choreography is definitely more fun than normal combinations that you do in class. It gives you a chance to express yourself and since you practice it over and over again it helps build consistency.”

For Mixed Repertory, Beringer worked with a professional choreographer for one of the pieces she will perform in. She said that adds to the fun of dance for her.

“The choreographer actually had the music made specifically for the dance. You couldn’t find it on YouTube or anything,” she said. “I think that was really cool because (the music) really went with the piece. (The music was) very hard-hitting. There’s drums and cymbals and it’s very intense.”

Kathrine Kouns, director of Carmel Choirs, helps select the choreographers each choir works with to create their set for the year.

Chloe Sun
Junior Anna Beringer practices a dance during SRT. Beringer said she memorizes new choreography through watching videos.

“Over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of different choreographers and seen what they do,” she said. “There are certain choreographers that are more stylistically suited for different (choir) groups depending on the demographic of the students and their abilities.”

Despite the long time period both Carmel Choirs and dancers spend practicing choreography, they are expected to learn it in a short period of time, as they have a set amount of time with the choreographers. For Beringer, despite enjoying learning choreography, she said she still struggles with it.

“Learning choreography is probably one of my biggest weaknesses in dance,” she said. “I think that repetition is really important and I try to get a copy of the video of the dance and just go over it with myself again and again and again until it becomes muscle memory and I know it to the music.”

While it is a profession, choreography is something anyone can create. Hannah Liu, Best Crew Club member and senior, creates choreography which she teaches to students aged seven to 12.

She said via email, “I choreograph easy-to-learn dances, but it’s not exactly super easy for me to do, so I really have respect for professional choreographers who can create these beautiful pieces for dancers to perform.”

When teaching choreography to young students, Liu said she tries to make it fun for them.

“We usually start off by playing a quick game to get everyone moving and excited,” she said. “Then, we play some pop music and lead some stretches, and then we get into the steps and we just start slow until we can do the choreography up to speed with the music we chose.”

Beringer said working with choreographers is a unique experience. While it provides her with more insight on her dancing, she said it can also be stressful.

“(Having the choreographers in the room means) they can correct you and tell you what you’re doing right and wrong. They can also make changes because they’ll usually try to choose steps that are flattering to you and that you’re skilled at,” she said. “(Working with choreographers is) definitely more stressful but in the end, it’s better for you as a dancer.”

However, choreographers face stress and difficulties as well, especially when confronted with a creative block. While she has faced this before, Liu said she has found ways to work past it.

“I usually take a break from dancing and do something else,” she said. “And after I come back to it with a fresh mind, I’ll be able to think of new ideas. Or I’ll look at some other dance videos, and there’s always a lot of inspiration to be (found) from those.”

Michelle Lu