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Updated on October 16, 2014

"When you improvise a dance routine, you are speaking purely from within. Your mind doesn't have time to control the way your heart wants to dance. That is what makes it so beautiful."

~Alaina Rupe

Lai Rupe's Choreography

Improve Tips 101

As a dancer, one of the best qualities you can have is the ability to Improv. Improv is just being able to create choreography right there on the spot, without any preparation. Being able to improv will help you as a dancer competing, learning choreography, teaching, and naturally when you begin to choreograph your own routines. So, here are some tips to help you learn how to improv correctly and competitively.

1. Listen to the music.

Before you begin creating any choreography, you need to first listen to the music to get a feel for it; especially if it is a song you are not familiar with. As a dancer, when you apply for dance scholarships, companies, and careers, you will almost always be required to do some type of improvisation with these auditions. Most of the time, they will pick a more rare song as a challenge as well.

Listening to the music will give you time to feel the rhythm, beats, and lyrics before you begin.

A common mistake dancers make within these auditions is starting right away with the music, but this is not required. Take some time once the music starts, to simply breathe and feel the music. The more your choreography can coincide with the music, the better your improv will turn out.


2. Pre-think of "show-off" moves to place into your improv.

If you have specific tricks that you are great at and love to display, before your audition, try to prepare simply ways to add those tricks into your improvisation routine. Whether you are creating a quick combo, or just specifying certain moves and tricks, it is important to have these in the back of your mind, so that when you go to dance, you can remember to add them in. This will help you add dynamics to the routine as you try to improv movements that correlate with the music.

With Lai Rupe's Choreography, I also teach Jazz Technique and every once in a while I like to give the dancers 15 minutes at the end of class to improv a combo. When we do this, I simply tell them their only rules are to move with the music and include one leap and one turn. This lets them do whatever they want for their improv, but also makes them think about leaps and turns that they are good at, to include in the routine. Every time we do this, their improv combos turn out beautiful, and they always have a lot of fun doing it too!

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3. Practice.

Many people think that Improv is not something that you can prepare for or practice; this is not the case. Just because to improvisation, means to create new dance choreography, on the spot, doesn't mean you can't practice doing this.

  • Turn on a random song, and just practice creating choreography.
  • Have a friend record it, so you can watch and review things that you like and didn't like about the improv.
  • The more often you do it, the easier it will become and the more natural and professional your improv choreography with be.


Improvisation Summary Tips

To be a great dancer when it comes to improvisation, there are only three tips to keep in mind;

  1. Listen to the music,
  2. Create combos to highlight you, and
  3. Practice improvising often.

By doing this and following these steps from Lai Rupe's Choreography, the quality of your improvisation routines will drastically improve and doors of opportunity will dance open for you!

Dance Improv Routine by Lai Rupe's Choreography. The first 50 seconds of the routine was simply improvisation.


Have any dance questions, concerns, or topics to discuss? Don't hesitate to reach out to Lai Rupe's Choreography. I am here to spread the beauty of dance.

Also, feel free to check out the article, "The Beautiful ART of Dance," to hear a bit more about the other perspective of dance as both a sport, and an art.

Thanks for your LOVE and Support!

~Alaina (Lai) Rupe

CEO of Lai Rupe's Choreography


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