Subtle Movement

200 Reasons To Love A Cappella

Reason #157: Subtle Movement

In the mid-2000s, as a cappella groups really proliferated and competitions grew stiffer, we also observed a steep increase in the amount and intensity of choreography that groups put into their performances, from synchronized dance moves to full-on acrobatics. Some of this choreography was on the money and really enhanced the music around of it. A lot of it, however, felt inorganic and gratuitous—made all the worse when a lot of it wasn’t particularly well executed.

Believe it or not, I’m not here to poke fun at groups whose choreography has flopped. Singing well as a group is hard enough, and adding complex staging raises the bar. I admire the ambition of it.

Truly great staging is about more than impressive athletic feats and coordination, though. It’s about furthering the story, the mood, or the message of a song. To oversimplify, the ideal visual presentation isn’t so much about staging an irresistible visual as it is honing the audience’s attention to make sure they’re listening to the performance.

Some of the very best examples of this dynamic are groups that focus not on hand jives and box steps, but rather on subtle looks, or repositioning the group across the stage for different legs of a song. While there is a place for more explosive movement at strategic moments, careful small gestures go a long way toward keeping the visual presentation interesting and diversifying it, without distracting the audience from the music, or the group itself from nailing its vocals.

I love it!