The Search for What Makes a Choreo Great

It’s been years and years that I have been in the search and still I cannot tell you exactly what makes a great choreography.

I have probably been on stage more than a hundred times.

The most difficult piece I’ve ever performed was also probably the shortest and my dream come true: the two minutes and thirty-six seconds of the Swan Lake’s, the White Swan, Odette Variation [example here].

It was the toughest training I have ever endured.

My teacher used to weight us every class, and show off to the other students our blisters, two in each toe. t

To prove they could still rehearse with the points with only one or two small blisters on their feet.

Anyway, since then, I’ve been looking for this “what” that makes a great choreography…

I have a few ideas, nothing conclusive, maybe, by the end of the congress, I will know a bit more.

Some examples of genius come to my mind…

I’ve seen this video with a salsa choreography that was a Masquerade at the UK Salsa Congress two or three years ago.

Oliver Piñeda performed a solo with it which was unforgettable.

This masquerade was the most beautiful salsa routine for a group that I had ever seen until then.

Obviously this is too personal, I loved the music and the style.

Here are some things that showed they really put effort into:

  • The costumes were so appropriate, they really looked like they were dancing at the grand ball dance floor of the Chenonceau, a castle in France that has this ballroom right on top of the Loire river.
  • The formations, the harmony, the expressions and the movements… the final result was sublime.

Oliver Piñeda and Tania at the SSC

Last night I saw great things and choreographies and in each I could tell, in my opinion, where they have done better. I will say a few things that were remarkable.

Latin Dance Melbourne brought a really nice Reggaeton, good energy, good moves a sexy group and what called my attention was how clean the choreo was.

On that note the group from Rio Rhythmics, the zouk with two ladies for one man was also clean and nice to watch. The public loved it and the guys looked like they were having the time of their lives. 

Bachatango is something I brought close to my heart so I had to love Latin Energy’s routine. I wrote about it at the bachateros website (, they used such a sexy French song!

  • In my search I found out that music is number one to start a great choreo.
  • Costumers are as important to make it look good. I will have to confess here that I think the latin scene still has quite a bit to improve on this.
  • Not because the costumes are not good but because most of us forget about adequacy. By that I mean that although some things are beautiful on the plan, they do not look good on the people using it. As simple as that: if you have ladies with a bit of muffins (or love handles) you shouldn’t put them almost naked on stage, even if you have one girl that will look good on it. Actually this shouldn’t be chosen by how the majority will look, it’s something the minority should resolve. If one guy or one lady doesn’t look his or her best, the costume should be changed. The group has to look good. Latin dancers tend to love sexy, tight and cleavage, but all those have to be used with expertise when applied to each person its going to cover, or not! 

My favourite costume from last night was the Pirates Team’s although others also come to my mind.

Becky’s girls, the Charleston costume from Salsa Connection in Adelaide, the ladies in Red from Sydney.

I’m not sure what was better, the body paining of that afro­cuban team or the routine… hard choice. 

Still from the Pirate’s routine another thing made it an awesome choreography: the rehearsed facial expressions. That was amazing, the guys were standing out, they all made these funny open mouthed expressions at the same time, each with his own flavour but I loved it. I usually prefer natural expressions. I don’t like the faces the ballroom dancers use on their routines with all his forced expressions that ruin the photos and distract your attention from the dancing itself, but in this case it was part of the characterization of the piece. It was beautiful, nice pirates!

Another school that was stuck in my mind was the one where the guys were dancing a very nice Michael Jackson and the girls did a nice thing at a break of the music. 

Four of them looking to the back, with the shorts so short guys would fall instantly in love with their legs. So I bet everyone was looking to their bums, specially when the first girls started moving it side to side on the beat of the music, followed by the second girl half a bar later, then the third, and the fourth.

Simple, simple, simple choreographing but an effect that drove the public to shouting and whistling!!! 

The three groups that always stand out for the beauty, their technical abilities and the amazing salsa are for me the ones from this city I love, my Sydney (sorry rest of Australia, I have to be a bit bias here):

They are the ones I’ve seen the most, I dance with them a lot, so it is impossible for me to separate what is real technical quality and what is pure love, so I will just say I loved their performances. 

Last another completely biased opinion, my Angels were beautiful. I’m happy to say I didn’t cry.

I was supposed to be dancing an Angel choreography that I didn’t make due to my broken wing.

This performance was created for Lee Wright a fellow dancer who is gone to the other side of the dancing stage… we dance for him, hoping he is dancing in heaven.

I felt happy and proud to have been with them in the making of this homage to Lee Wright.

To have wore the angel’s wings, to have teased Tony Lara saying: how are we going to be angels dancing Bachata? Bachata is too naughty to be heavenly. Well I was wrong. They looked like heavenly to me, even my partner’s unholy smile!

31 Orble Votes

Latin Dance Melbourne – Reggaeton team in Jeans

Strictly Salsa ­ – Ladies in red

My Dance Partner, Junaid Jaffar, and his smile backstage

All at the Sydney Salsa Congress 2009

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