I have mentioned the choreography bible The Art of Making Dances before. I wanted to share a short excerpt from the end, which always bears remembering and repeating.


These, then, are some reminders which have been learned by painful experience and which should help the choreographer to avoid some of the common mistakes.

  • Symmetry is lifeless
  • Two-dimensional design is lifeless
    • The human body is three dimensional
  • The eye is faster than the ear
  • Movement looks slower and weaker onstage
    • space works magical and often appalling differences
  • All dances are too long
    • In my many years of looking at dances, I can remember only a scant handful that were too short
  • A good ending is 40% of the dance
  • Monotony is fatal; look for contrasts
  • Don’t be a slave to, or a mutilator of, the music
  • Listen to qualified advice; don’t be arrogant
  • Don’t intellectualize; motivate movement
  • Don’t leave the ending to the end

If only we could all be so brilliant and capable of “classifying the constituents of chaos” as Doris Humphrey.