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Drag King Choreography, Performance Planning, Stage Routine Creation, Dance Moves for Drag Kings

Choreographing Your Drag King Performance: A Step-By-Step Guide

drag king kings of joy Mar 21, 2024

Have you ever tried to choreograph your own Drag King routine? It can feel overwhelming and daunting. Like you’re wandering around in the dark. Creating your routine takes more than crossing your fingers and hoping it will work out. Choreography is no mean feat. That’s why they hand out tertiary degrees in it. 

My first attempt at choreography was at 10 years old to a New Kids On The Block song, Cover Girl. My friends and I wore matching scrunchies, oversized t-shirts and rah-rah skirts. It was a moment.

Three years of dance and choreography training at university, and I’ve still got more to learn! But don’t worry, I’m going to guide you through some simple steps to get started on your next Drag King performance. You’ll learn how to plan, execute and refine your routine. All while staying true to your unique self-expression. Let’s get started!

1. The Blueprint: Creating Your Concept

Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten why? That’s a performance without a concept. A well-crafted performance starts with a strong concept. This is the foundation of your routine—the storyline that guides every move you make. 

Your concept should be something you're passionate about, something that resonates with you. It could be a personal story, a social issue, or a wild idea you’ve had in the back of your mind. Whatever it is, make sure it's something that lights you up.

Sometimes it helps to start visually. Make a mood board of images, colours, quotes or anything that inspires you. According to a study by the New York University’s Department of Psychology, visual imagery can significantly enhance creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

2. The Skeleton: Mapping Out Your Routine

Imagine you’re building a house. You wouldn’t start without a blueprint, right? The same goes for mapping out your routine. Think of your performance as a story. It should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Each part of your routine should flow seamlessly into the next. Think about a peak moment as well. This could be a costume reveal or have some element of surprise.

You could use a timeline to map out your routine. This will help you visualise the flow of your performance. I use the lyrics of the song and divide them up into counts of 8 on a page. You can then pencil in different ideas for each section of the song.

3. The Muscle: Mastering Your Moves

The next thing you need to master are the movements. Every move communicates something to the audience. If you think about a puppet show, the puppet is being controlled by a master pulling strings. In your performance, you need to be the master and own each movement.

So practice your moves over and over. Perfection isn’t the goal here, authenticity is. Using a mirror can give you important feedback about the shapes your body is making. Just don’t allow any critical voices to come in and shut you down. Tell them where to go.

4. The Skin: Refining Your Performance

If you’ve ever watched a movie without the sound on, you’re missing the refinement of the performance. When refining your performance, you can try recording and watching the routine back. This can help you identify areas for improvement. A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that self-observation can significantly improve performance.

Look for the finishing touches. Are you communicating each lyric? Are there any gaps where you don't know what you're doing? Work out what your persona wants to say, and get it expressed through movement or lip-syncing.

Get feedback from someone you trust. Make sure they know the difference between feedback and criticism. They must be able to handle the early stages of creativity with care.

Choreographing a Drag King performance is a complex but rewarding process. It takes planning, practice, and a whole lot of passion. But with these steps, you're well on your way to creating a routine that's uniquely yours. Remember, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the journey.


Danica Lani

The King Coach

P.S. Wanna be a Drag King? Click here to join the waiting list for Kings of Joy

Hello handsome, 🌈 I'm Danica Lani, also known as The King Coach, here to empower you in your exploration of gender, sexuality, and performance. I have proudly mentored, choreographed, and produced 106 first-time Drag Kings since December 2020. Welcome to the joyous community of Kings of Joy, where we uplift and celebrate each other every step of the way! 🎉🤩 Let's embark on this Drag King journey together, embracing our true selves and cheering each other on! 🤗💖 #KingsOfJoy

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