Do you want to dance with a rock-metal band? You should know that dancing at a concert is rather different than dancing in a theater or other type of dance stage. Let’s see how dancers can face this challenge!

Cover photo: Vero Bautista – Dancing with FoxyLadys band

Live music vs. recorded music

  • Live music: dancers are used to analyze recorded songs. They have a certain tempo and particular nuances included in the original studio recording. A live song doesn´t lose its essence, but can vary substantially from the point of view of the dancer: different tempo, inclusion or loss of sounds, different introduction, shorter or longer guitar solo… All of this affect the choreography and you have to be more flexible and technically open-minded than in the case you are using recorded music.
  • Dancers & musicians rehearsal, please! Rehearsing with the musicians you are performing with is basic. Both of you should agree on all the above aspects before the show. The original song can vary, but in a manner agreed beforehand. If not, the dancer can feel uncomfortable during the show and the choreography, and therefore the whole show, can experience a loss of quality.

Photography: Vero Bautista

S.O.S. Where is my space?

  • Spatial freedom: it is much more restricted than in a theater or other space prepared specifically for dance. Space constraints are given by the musicians and their instruments. You will see how your typical dance stage of 50 square meters free for you is now a stage full of obstacles, where useful spaces for dancing can be reduced to 4 square meters in the best case.
  • Dance elements: space constraints can hinder or prevent the use of certain elements, such as veils, wings, swords and any bulky item or those which increase your size very much.
  • Limited visual resources: the staging is what it is and it is designed by the band in accordance with their taste and needs. Logically, they give more priority to the sound than to the visual part. In consequence, music concerts do not usually have the same technical means a theater: they have others. It is fair to mention some groups that create spectacular scenery for concerts, as you can see in this video of Spanish metal band Mägo de Oz. The dancer Isabel Martínez enjoys a great stage and scenery…

Choreographing for a concert

  • Use a semi-improvised choreography: there are non-dancers on stage with their own mobility and, despite having agreed about how they will play the song, there is the possibility of variants. That´s why I recommend creating a semi-improvisational choreography, with a choreographed part and a free one, so you can adapt it on stage while the song is played.
  • Prepare extra dance resources: another way of working on this semi-improvisational format is designing previously some dance resources, so you can react properly to an unexpected event: what will I do if the musicians repeat a verse unexpectedly? Do I have an extra combo prepared if the guitar solo is longer than I was told? Find an answer before the concert!
  • Simplify your travelling steps: obstacles can hinder complex movements such as chained travelling turns, for example. Therefore, travelling steps should be simpler. You can even walk on stage, something that probably you would never do if you are performing in a theater.
  • Be aware about the loss of complexity: it is normal that your choreography lose complexity, at least in some parts, as the  freedom of movement is restricted.
  • Interact with the musicians:  musicians and dancers are sharing the same stage, so we can choreograph in advance certain interactions between us or perform them spontaneously.
  • Dance costumes should be designed taking in mind the aesthetics of the group and/or the song for greater artistic coherence.

Dancing at a concert is a great experience whose fundamental disadvantage is the problem of space, which can limit the artistic quality of dance work. Despite of it, it offers a different perspective of the binomio music-dance and allows you working with other type of artists, which is always enriching. Nowadays, little by little rock-metal bands are including dance and theater as part of their staging. In a future article we will discuss about them.