Dance Composition involves the research, the creative tools, and the translation of concepts into combinations of movement. It usually starts from a theme or a specific topic and will be developed into a structure that supports the whole process.
Let’s take the example of composition in the Visual Arts: the artist already knows the tools, with which they would like to work - be it a new form of technology or one that they are already familiar with. Then they make a careful choice of colors, textures, effects, dynamics, that will support the concept that they want to transmit. The same can be applied in Dance Composition: the Dancer chooses a topic to be worked on, then they move on to movement research that relate to that topic, selection of ideas (sometimes known as „kill your darlings“ moment) and a collage of them. The next step is to evaluate if the ideas are coming across, if they are being clear enough or if they should be reconfigured, in order to make their point come across.
Dance Composition differs from choreography because it doesn’t necessarily aims at having a piece to be performed on stage, but the collection of ideas that might later on be transformed for that purpose. Some dancers use Dance Composition on their research phases, very often combined with improvisation exercises, use of imagery, music, site-specific research, etc. Each person may have a specific way of registering their process, and Dance Composition is a tool to help registering but also developing ideas.