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Christopher Dykton is directing and choreographing Follies for The Arlington Players. In anticipation of auditions later this month, he is blogging his preparation and the backstory of the characters of the play—in formidably articulate detail.

Because music and dance are basically mathematical, the first step in choreographing is a rather dry one. You count. The song begins with counts and ends with counts. There are a limited number of counts to a song, and movement needs to fit to these counts. How much time a movement takes needs to be calibrated and it must fit the counts. Choreographers count and demand that their dancers count, and if you do not count it like the choreographer, you will be corrected. As a choreographer teaching a dance, you count my counts. It’s my way or the highway. I have the counts—you have to learn them. I don’t need interpretation—I need you to dance my counts. But if you do count it right and practice it over and over and over again, it may perhaps transcend to something that’s art and dance.

But first you count.