On My Lonesome

Hello internet! Happy Wednesday.

So on the heels of my decision I’ve begun to plan the next 8 months of my life in earnest. And that means I now get to pick apart all the things I’m worried about and need to make, one by one, like quills out of skin.

Today’s Problem: I don’t know how to choreograph solo works.

In the past, on the few occasions I’ve done solo pieces, I’ve tended to improvise. Sure, I’ll listen to the music a bunch of times and plan out key points here and there, but the stage version is always a bit different and spontaneous.

(Obviously this isn’t counting “variations” I’ve done in my classical training, I’m only talking about pieces I’ve made, here.)

For my impending application tour this winter, it looks like I’m going to need at least two solo pieces–one for my reel and one for on-site auditions.


I’ve always preferred big music–sweeping orchestral pieces with a sense of scale and movement. But solo pieces in my mind are best to more stripped-down scores, so as not to overwhelm the lone dancer with a barrage of sound.

Maybe there still are neo-classical pieces that I can work with. The theme from Pan’s Labyrinth, maybe? That tune always gives me goosebumps. Not sure it’s long enough, though.

I love E.S. Posthumous, in particular their album Cartographer, where they include two different versions of each song. I’ve always preferred the Pi Reis versions, which have increased instrumentation and swap a chorus for a single voice–but the ‘original’ version of the song “Oraanu” might still be worth working with.

I do find it interesting that the vast majority of my choreographic inspiration is for group pieces. I’ve just always found it more compelling to watch, to dance with, and to make for multiple people. There are more possible shapes, more patterns to create–just more options overall. Even with ballroom pieces, I’ve tended towards more couples, with only two exceptions–the three-person Tango and our wedding dance.

I do have an idea for a “suite” to the 7 Chakras by Mannhiem Steamroller that will start out with a solo dancer and then slowly add dancers each movement until we get to seven, but I don’t think the first movement will make a bunch of sense out of context. It’s a bit abstract for my tastes, especially when divorced from the rest of the movements. (Also I want the solo to be a male dancer, sooo.)

Conclusion? I have none yet. Dancer friends and colleagues, how have you gone about creating solo pieces? How do you find music?

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