Training New Choreographers: Dance Composition Class 2013


PTDT company members expand their training in the summer to challenge themselves with new classes, to learn new skills, and gain strength.  This summer, 5 company members are taking “Dance Composition”.  This is a class that PTDT Director/Choreographer Pamela Trokanski offers in the summer session at the Pamela Trokanski Dance Workshop, teaching dancers skills used in choreography, tailoring the class to the goals of the dancers taking the class.  This year, many of the dancers’ goals are to develop their own choreographic style and to create new movements that express their own style.

In the two classes each week, dancers are challenged to create new choreography though a series of exercises and games.  Homework assignments reinforce and extend the learning in the classroom.  One homework assignment asked dancers to create a movement game that could help other dancers think about movement in a new way and to facilitate creating new movements or reinterpreting established movements.  The dancers then tried these games in class.  Ideas like tying an arm to the body with a scarf, reversing choreography as if in a video on rewind, and having another person position and move the dancer like a doll produced excellent results.

In class, dancers offer each other constructive feedback on their choreography.  Trokanski encourages the dancers to frame their feedback in terms of what they see and feel, recognizing that what each person likes or dislikes about any art is more a reflection of the observer than the art itself.  This way of discussing the dancers’ work makes the discussion less personal and helps dancers be more objective about the feedback they receive.

Dancers are responsible for all aspects of the piece the choreograph, including music selection, costuming, and lighting.  Near the end of the session, dancers learn about the effect of different costume choices on a piece of choreography.  In teching and blocking rehearsal, they learn to work with a lighting designer to choose the lighting effects for their piece.

At the end of the 8 week session, dancers may present a choreographed piece at the Pamela Trokanski Dance Workshop’s Summer Repertory Concert on August 2nd & 3rd, 2013.  For more information on show times and tickets, visit

Examples from PTDT Dancer’s Work in Previous Dance Composition Classes:


Evelia Fernandez – “Un Mundo que ya no Conozco” – 2012


Michele Tobias – “Let Go” – 2012


Nicole Bell – “White Blank Page” – 2012


Nicole Bell – “Seven Years”- 2009


Videography by Patrick Fitzgibbons at AskPatrick Videography.

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