Choreography Concept and Structure

by Stephan Miermont founder of Aquartist and legendary performer, artist and visionary

Choreography is the art of designing sequences of movements in which motion, form or both are specified.

The best way to talk about choreography as a concept is to talk about three big Masters of Dance. Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey and Maurice Béjart.

Martha Graham (1929-1991)

Her work has influenced the entire work of dance. Her philosophy is based on the contraction of the muscle and its relaxation.

Alvin Ailey (1931-1989)

His vision was to create a company with one goal: update the American modern ballet while keeping the back American culture and history.

Maurice Béjart (1927-2007)

His philosophy was as follows: The beauty of a person is not measured by his/her physical attraction but rather by their desire to live, to express a movement, a dream or an attitude.

For these 3 geniuses, choreography is a group of feelings that will provoke a reaction to the audience that is watching. Building choreography is the most complex and complicated artistic task you can ever be asked to do. Music is what inspires the most of us. Its choice is very important, especially in artistic swimming.

Choreography in Artistic Swimming

Choreography has no limits, no rules. But in Artistic Swimming we can see that there is a certain formula and structure that is used by most of the successful organisations.

Structure and rules

  • Clear movements
  • Detail of each pattern and precision of the patterns
  • Tendency of having a story or a gesture or a theme
  • Close patterns
  • Utilise the pool
  • Use a constant mobility and never stopped

The ingredients

  • Technical hybrids
  • Artistic hybrids
  • Complex and unique transitions
  • Highlights
  • Lifts
  • Facial expression and complex strokes.

How to create a routine?

Like every creation, a routine usually starts with an idea, a concept, or a thought. From there you have to do some research and homework to try and find material that could express your idea (images, videos, drawings, etc.).

It isn’t easy to find an idea. I advise you to do some research in the dance, gymnastic, acrobatic sport and the rhythmic gymnastics worlds. But the best tool is obviously the internet

In Artistic Swimming most of the time you will find your inspiration though music. Most of us coaches will hear music and start doing some Artistic Swimming moves in our head. Music in our sport is important and could be how we start creating a choreography. Music must be unique, original and in correlation with your style.

How to choose your music; the music strategy:

  • Use very well-known music. This is the strategy to get applause. Fashionable music is easy to sing to and everybody knows them. The originality should come from a different orchestration or speed. Your choreography needs to be very unique and adapted to the modern music.
  • Choose the music according to the competition venue. This is called the influencing In this case you are trying to touch the public and get a big reaction from them with lots of cheering.
  • Use a unique music, something new, modern that showcases the quality and the strengths of your swimmers; this is the strategy of surprise and expression.
  • Use music from a play, a movie, a poem; this is the strategy of popularity.
  • Use of a historical moment, a political event; this is the sensitivity

Choreography tips:

  • Show something original and new in the first lap that will create interest.
  • Show an interesting artistic component in the second lap.
  • Increase the curiosity with more artistic technique in the third lap.
  • Go all out with technique, power and speed in the last lap.
  • Include lots patterns and clarity, fluidity and surprise in the pattern changes.
  • Use variety in front of the judges (artistic, technical and acrobatic).
  • Use the gestures and movements that will show the most height.
  • Alternate legs and arms or mix both.
  • Use special musical moments.
  • Use contrast (small, big, square, round, etc.).
  • Use as much of the space as possible (front, back, side, above, below, etc.).
  • Use different entries and exits for each figure.

How to develop the artistic and expression side in the routine

  • Acting game: Choose a theme and have swimmers express the theme (sad, happy, surprise, etc.).
  • Body expression: Separate your face from your body using a mask.
  • Expression by group: Play a game like the water becomes acid or fire and use the expression of the leader and react to the leader.

How an idea becomes reality

Alice in Wonderland Combo China 2011

The idea came from the 2010 movie Alice in Wonderland and a combo routine was created. Each lap represents a scene and each swimmer is a character from the movie. The story was well respected.

Try and find the different scenes from the movie in China’s Combo Routine at Shanghai’s World Championships in 2011: