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
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
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.