It's an hour's drive to and from the dance studio from her house, so she listens to loud music and choreographs while she drives every day. In all her 10 years of teaching, she has never once written a dance down. And yet, if you ask her to do "Stronger" from her 2007 class of 13-15 year olds, she'd be able to do it on the spot.
Right now, she is currently choreographing THIRTY. ONE. DIFFERENT. DANCES.
How is that even possible?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! And she doesn't write any of them down?!?!?! GAH! It's freaking incredible. None of the dances are the same.
Since she choreographs in her head, sometimes when we do the dance in class, she'll stare at us for a minute and then go:
"No. Nope. Looked better in my head." And we'll do something else.
After we've learned the whole dance she always goes back and tweaks it, too. Maybe a turn didn't take up as many counts as she thought, or we need to use the other leg for a fan kick, or start with the right foot instead of the left at some point. She was trying to explain this process to the class one night.
"I just have to get the dance first, before I fix it," she said.
A comparison popped into my head, and my eyes lit up. "It's like a rough draft," I said.
"Yeah," Lauren nodded excitedly. "Exactly."
Thinking of choreography like writing has been a really exciting revelation for me. It helps me understand Lauren and dancing so much better.
The first attempt at the dance is like a rough draft.
How can Lauren remember so many dances? Well, how do I remember so many stories?
Choreographing on the go must be a lot like getting a story idea on the go.
When you see a dance in real life, sometimes it doesn't work the way you anticipated. When your characters do what you tell them to do, sometimes it doesn't feel right.
More often than not, Lauren's dances incorporate two groups of dancers doing different things. Some people ask Lauren why in the world would she make it harder on herself like that? I think I understand. When I'm writing a story, sometimes the characters do things that are completely unexpected, or react badly to something I give them, or refuse to cooperate. People might say to me, "That's ridiculous. YOU'RE the writer, aren't you? Make them do what you want!" And I just have to tell you, it's not as easy as it sounds.
Comparing choreography to writing has made me both appreciate and understand what Lauren does even more than before. It's so exciting to me when I can draw parallels like that that help me understand something else.
Isn't it cool how everything is connected?