Of Freestyle and Choreography

Foto von Expanding Energy
Expanding Energy / Davis Freeman - Random Scream / Sommerszene 2011

Sometimes people argue about stupid shit. A prime example for this is the discussion of freestyle vs choreography in hip hop dance. What this discussion misses is that freestyle and choreography are the same things but under different conditions. Both are about the creation of our dance, one of them is spontaneous and the other in a slow and very reflected process.

Before we jump into the topic itself: for the sake of this article I refer to freestyle as “improvisation within the boundaries of a dance-style” and not “do whatever you want”.

Here are my two cents why this discussion does not go anywhere and why you should be able to freestyle and create choreography. To make my point more clear, I will use my favourite metaphor where I compare dance to a language.

The moves we have in any given style are comparable to words in a language and therefore form our vocabulary. Our grammar is the flow of the style and how we connect our moves to form our dance being the text that has a meaning that is created by the combination of words. And finally in hip hop and it’s related styles, music is the topic we talk about.

The difference between dancing freestyle or a set choreography is like the difference of talking free versus reciting a poem. Both are fine at the correct time. You can make a serious impact by having the right poem at hand for the right occasion, but bringing a poem about the beauty of x-mas in a discussion about the ecologic crisis is just stupid.

At the same time, you miss out on a big part of the beauty of choreography if you don’t understand how the moves connect. This is the same as learning a poem in a foreign language when you can tell it to people but don’t know what it means.

And you can’t say you are a master of a language/dance if you can’t create a speech/choreography to a given topic.

This means: there is no “which is better/superior/whatever”. You need to understand both to master your craft. There is nothing wrong in specialising in one or the other if you want. But if you choose to do so, don’t divide what’s one in an artificial discussion and openly admit that you don’t care enough to put in the work to learn both.

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