For a start, I don’t claim to be an expert with regards to building or choreographing team ballet routines. Team flying is simply a mash of putting 2 of my favorite hobbies (music and flying) together. I love the sense of feel from the musical piece, the tempo and emotions carried within the music and extending that expression to flying with kites in the air. Granted, the same piece of music evokes different emotions within me during different times.
As a fledgling team flier, I’m always learning by watching past teams, teams from different countries that brings a whole slew of different influences. Just putting down some thoughts with respect to building and choreographing routines for a fledgling kite team.
At this juncture, I’d like to refer to the following article written by Ari Contzius. Check out his dual-line pair performance with Ron Graziano as the pair “The Wright Brothers”.
The excellent article by Ari on choreographing ballet routines applies for both dual as well as quad-line kites. I shall not rehash whatever has been mentioned but will just share some of my thoughts on this topic.
1. Starting to fly…
I’d have to give kudos to Team iQuad for this and I’m sure many other teams would agree. Some of the figures that came from iQuad videos probably originate from earlier teams or dual-line ballet routines (my guess, with all due respects to other great teams out there) but history aside, they are probably the starting blocks for many newly formed teams to gain experience in quad-line team flying.
We started learning the figures from the Rev Team manual which can be accessed via the link below.
They provided hours of fun for fliers like us who has never ever done any team flying before. Moreover, the universal calls enables anyone to join in impromptu flys as long as they are somewhat familiar with the figures. One observation I made is that basically any number of fliers (mostly even numbered) can gather and fly to those figures without any music piece. It’s as if the universal language is in the figures themselves!
2. What keeps your heart thumping?
As the fliers gel and decides to go the next step, it’s probably the selection of a piece of music to fly to. Most often then not, the piece of music would be something that suits the flier’s taste. Once again, the figures would probably be based upon the Rev Team manual since that’s what got most started (At least for us :D). That’s when the team has the first ballet routine and excitement goes up another notch!
3. Ok, now we are getting serious…
This is where the fun starts. As experience is gained, so do ambition :). Not bad if it motivates you onto higher performance level. At this stage, you have probably attended a couple of kite festivals with the 1st rookie routine and is probably looking to build a next routine, something that can capture more attention, as as symbol of progression or simply; as a higher level of fun. There is a tendency to come up with new figures and formations before selecting the music piece. Yes, we are just as guilty on this because I think flying kites is what gets kite fliers excited, while music is secondary.
However, psychology states that we remember 50% of what we see and hear, while seeing and hearing by itself contributes a measly 20% and 30% respectively. I’m not sure if there is any rule of thumb but IMHO, selecting the next music piece should come first. Hold on to the tendency to come up with creative figures and moves. Make the music down pat and then make figures that suits the music and not the other way round. I’ve learned this in talking with more experienced teams and find that it indeed works for me, YMMV. A cool creative move that looks out of place in the music is just a figure, while a simple move that fits into the tempo and emotion of the music just makes for a more powerful performance.
4. A foxy move or a faux move?
Once the music piece is selected, I’d tend listen to it again and again, until I can hum it in my sleep :P. I’d tend to put on my “emotive” cap and try to feel what the music is trying to convey, be it a vocal, classical or rock tune. This is when creating moves and figures come in. I tend to base the moves on what I’m feeling, is it a sad tune, depressing section, cresendo to a climax etc and put the moves down as much as my interpretation allows.
It is very cool to create a new move that has never been flown before. I think this is down to individual creativity and interpretation. However, I don’t think it is a must to have unique figures. I think it’s absolutely alright to reuse older ones, ones that other teams has flown before or variations of it. It’s the combination of the figure and the music that captures attention, so there’s always the other half of the story, i.e. the music.
We have got 3 choreographed routines, each different from the previous and I think I represents our growth from starting out to our still fledgling stage. The last routine, “Ip Man” has totally different structure compared to our previous one, “The New World Symphony”. We are currently working on the next routine based on “Sway”.
At this stage, another observation struck me. As we progressed slowly from iQuad-styled figures to building our own to suit the music, we have moved away from the common language! This doesn’t mean that there is less fun in flying but I feel that the iQuad figures that got us started is beginning to serve as warm-ups to our practices. We still do figures like the “benefit”, “matrix” and “blender” etc but they are appearing less in our own routines. Put it in another way, we are slowly learning a new language and progressed beyond our “baby language”.
We’ve just increased our repertoire :D. Have fun always.