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More Articles

Where Obedience Leaves Off and Freestyle Starts
A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose
The Freestyle Challenge
Getting Started With Freestyle
Definition of Freestyle and Structure of a Freestyle Performance
More Than Just Heeling
Creative Development of Movement
Music, Rhythm and Freestyle
Understanding Required Moves
Do I Have to Dance?
Freestyle - A Point of View
Training: a New Mindset
My Introduction to Training a Freestyle Dog
It Takes Three - The Audience
Choreography: How to Begin
40x50 Feet: The Empty Canvas
Rhythm: The Great Organizer
What is a Guild

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We previously talked about Space - The Empty Canvas. If Space is the empty canvas, then Direction is comparable to brush strokes. Your choices of direction determine how the spectator views the dog’s movement. The direction in which a given movement is presented focuses and enhances the visual image. Direction is a vital element to you, the choreographer, in showing the dog to his best advantage. Your directional choices will define the dog’s movement and position, and direct the spectators’ focus.

Movement may be presented forward, to the side, back, diagonally or circularly. At this point it will be helpful to take a moment to observe a dog and handler team facing front with the dog standing in heel position and then making a quarter turn to the right, and repeating this turn until they are again facing front. Can you see the differences in the visual image with each quarter turn?

Now add movement such as heeling forward, laterally and back with the team facing directly front. Then make the quarter turn and repeat these movements. Continue until the dog and handler are facing front again. There are moments when the dog is hidden by the handler’s body, which may or may not be the visual image you, the choreographer, wish to present. The choice as choreographer is yours. If you have doubts as to exactly what you want, refer to the Definition of Freestyle or your own specific motivation for creating a Freestyle performance.

In the case of diagonal movement the visual image of the dog and handler are less obscured than when the team faced directly to the side. Take the time to observe diagonal movement as we did above for front, sides and back. With the use of right and left side heeling your directional choices increase.

Lastly we must consider circular movement. Because the direction of circular movement is constantly changing, the visual image also changes from moment to moment. The dog and handler may circle together or one at a time. They may both circle in the same direction or in opposite directions. Are you beginning to understand how broad your choreographic options are?

Improper use of direction can obscure or hide movement. When chosen with care, direction can emphasize specific movements and focus and define them for your judges and spectators. Maintain a sense of balance in the use of direction. Use different directions. No presentation should leave the spectator with the feeling that everything was performed on the diagonal or all just forward and back.

One final note on direction. The use of direction is most important in developing the movement phrases which are the building blocks of your choreography. How you select the direction of your movements will be determined by which dog movements you wish to emphasize to have the greatest impact on your spectators. You will want to minimize the dog’s weaker movements by performing them in a direction in which accuracy is more difficult to determine.

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