By Wendy Taucher
4 September 2019
As director of the World Choreography Institute, I am often asked if choreography can be taught. My answer is an emphatic “maybe.”
Nature versus nurture in choreography presents the argument: Can creativity be taught, or is it a gift? The jury is out, with research and vociferous opinions coming down on both sides. I tend to come down on the side of “it’s a gift,” and that inspired artistic creation cannot be taught. Structural technique, and methods of analysis, rehearsal, and experimentation can — and should be — taught. Especially in choreography.
Why especially? Because it’s not done. Not enough, anyway. The reasons for this are multifaceted, complex, and exist as much by habit as by economics and logistics. The lack of choreographic training exists in all dance genres, each with its own particular issues, but all tending to put choreographers in the position of producing too many works in too little time.
Creating choreography poses more problems than making new work in any other art form. Painters need canvas, paints, and brushes. Playwrights need paper and pen, or the contemporary equivalent. Composers need knowledge of notation, an instrument, or the ability to hear music in their head. They can work alone. Choreographers need bodies and space. Space is expensive, and dancers should be. And that’s prohibitive, often causing choreographers to premiere works before they are fully cooked.
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