Cleaning Choreography: The Art & Technique


It’s performance season, and you know what everyone is going to be looking for… clean routines. We have analyzed this commodity in the dance world and have interpreted it into both a technique and an art.

It’s all about that mesmerizing moment when you see a group of dancers performing choreography, with such connection and synchronization, that it gives you chills. Those few seconds when a team grooves with such connection to the music that it causes the crowd to shout out loud. How does that happen? Why does that happen? How can dancers express the same intention and focus at the exact same time. Why does it have such an affect on an audience? We have answers to explain this almost hypnotic occurrence, and how to get your dancers to do it.

Before we go into the two parts of this multifaced phenomenon, lets get a clear understanding of the topic. Clean choreography is what we define as, movement with perfect legibility. The cleanliness of choreography is not determined by the genre or style. It is something that can be visibly translated easily; dancers moving in the exact same way, at the exact same time.


The technique of it.

It would be wonderful to think that a company of dancers could just learn a choreographed number and after that, every time they perform it, their spacing is right and they are perfectly in sync. Unfortunately, that isn’t how it happens. Dancers and their coaches work extremely hard, paying attention to the smallest details in their quest of cleaning choreography. There are a hand full of key elements dance leaders use to develop or improve their cleaning technique. Incorporate these strategies to help you and your dancers move closer to that squeaky clean routine.

  • Learn with cleaning in mind. - Your approach is crucial in any challenge, and it is especially crucial in the cleaning process. When a choreographer teaches your dancers and while you watch and/or learn the choreography, think about the cleaning right then. Really implement this strategy by assigning a dance captain for each choreographed routine. A dance captain’s responsibility is to capture details and specifics from the choreographer, especially ones that may get lost in translation. Then the dance captain can lead or speak up when movement needs to be specified. This will keep it from turning a rehearsal into a debate.

  • Train dancers to hold pictures. - When you select a section of choreography to clean, get your dancers use to holding positions. Have dancers go through movement slowly and when they arrive to a position that is too different, have everyone hold there and mold dancers into the same shape. This takes time and focus, and will benefit to the depth of dancers concentration.

  • Train dancers on the power of repetition. - Nowadays dancers are so quick to learn a new skill or combo and the quickly move on to the next. This results in dancers sometimes missing the power of creating a habit. Have dancers get use to running a routine more than a few times. Even when performed perfectly clean, reinforce this habit by running it once more… because muscle memory is a real thing.

  • Adopt cleaning exercises into your rehearsals and practices. - Just as dancers gain more flexibility by stretching, they also develop cleaner movement by incorporating isolation drills in their training regimen. This exercise can also contribute to dancers improv. Their movement can be more visually translated and build a deeper channel of communication with the audience.


The art of it.

You can achieve the same pictures and lines in your dancers, however for that magical moment to really happen, your cleanliness has to be balanced with style and musicality. So often super clean dance teams can be described as robotic because they lack this very important other side of cleaning. Clean choreography must also have a unison emotion attached to it. Along with emotion, dancers need to match the music. The soundtrack is the common factor each dancer can go off of and connect to rhythmically. The next level of perfroming clean choreography is when all dancers match in movement, intention, and express the same emotion simultaneously synced with the music.

Can you remember the cleanest routine you have ever seen? Tell us and comment below.

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