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Thinking of Choreographing a New Ballet? Take the Leap! Thinking of Choreographing a New Ballet? Take the Leap!

Thinking of Choreographing a New Ballet? Take the Leap!

story by Janet Andrews for DanceUs.org

What do Aladdin, Dracula, and Beethoven's 7th symphony all have in common? Most people would say "not much", but for the owner and artistic director of Northwest Ballet Theater's John Bishop, they were all inspirations for new ballets.

Having created 15 ballets over the last 13 years, Bishop is in a good place to advise someone who might want to venture into this field. People often wonder what is involved in creating a full length ballet. Not everyone possesses the creativity or skill to even attempt such a feat. According to Bishop, the motivation to create original ballets came on the heels of his professional dancing career. He felt an instinctive desire to take ballet to a new level by creating original works. Confidence to take on such an endeavor came after producing traditional ballets for five years.

According to Bishop, the motivation to create original ballets came on the heels of his professional dancing career.

 

What is the creative impetus for creating a new ballet? According to Bishop, the initial creative impulse comes from music. He hears something that starts the creative Juices flowing and imagines the whole ballet in his head first. The basic model for all ballets is the same, so when creating something new, the music, choreography, set design, and story line all take center stage.

It can take six months to a year to create a new ballet, and that is something that might discourage would-be producers. Bishop's advice to someone wants to venture into this field is:

Pull on your own experiences as a dancer and past choreographers who have created great works. If you are creating an original ballet for the first time, be patient and don't go into rehearsals unprepared to communicate what you are trying to achieve in each rehearsal. It is also important to be sensitive to dancers and artists by understanding their needs as well.

Once the choreography is complete, the dancers are trained and ready, then the excitement begins. There is a lot at stake when you create something that is so personal. Will the audience like it? What if they don't? According to Bishop:

Thankfully, I have been very fortunate, and the audiences have really appreciated my efforts.

John Bishop has long been associated with prominent dance companies and schools in the US and abroad and has worked with some of the most notable artists in the world of dance.

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