There is no recipe for dancepoems. But there are four ingredients that you will need to use and contextualise in your own practice: dance, poem(s), music and performance.
I deliberately don’t call these ingredients different stages and don’t present them in a sequence. It might be that you start with a move and a verse comes to you. Or it might be the other way round- that you write a line and visualise it as a pirouette. It might also be the case that you hear a piece of music that you want to transform into a dancepoem. The beginnings are in you. Their continuation is in others.
The composing process is deeper if you actively try to become the ‘other’ (a dancer if you are a poet, or a poet if you are a dancer). If, in a duet, you enter into each other’s frame of reference, the words and movements come naturally. Yes, you need to practice and edit if you want to achieve a smooth and coherent result. But the creation process needs to be organic and emphatic.
A dancepoem does not need to have a piece of music to accompany it. In my view, instrumental music can intensify the feelings expressed through words and movement. I therefore always use music in my dancepoems. Again, the sequence of combining the ingredients is up to you.
In one of my dancepoems we had the music at the beginning, in another one we chose it during the creation process and in another one we added it at the very end. There is no right or wrong, you have to tailor the process to your own taste.
If you use music that is not your own, please make sure you ask for permission. This is important especially if you want to share your final piece publicly. Musicians are generally happy with acknowledged appropriation. When I emailed The Theorist whether we could use his cover of a Jessie Ware’s song, he responded immediately with the song attached to his email.
The poem can be spoken or written or both. Try to be inclusive and always add subtitles if you only include a spoken version of the poem.