Learning Choreography Faster

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Learning Choreography Faster

There’s no greater frustration than feeling lost in a dance class: forgetting the movement, feeling adrift in the dance combination and getting confused about what’s next in the choreography. All dancers have been there at one time or another, but you don’t want to look lost when the stakes are high, like during tryouts or placement class.

Absorbing dance choreography is a skill just like any other in dance class. And like all skills, it takes practice.

Make a habit of these practice skills during your dance classes and rehearsals. Eventually, learning new moves will become second nature.

1) Learn choreography in chunks. Just like you remember phone numbers easier when the digits are grouped, your brain holds onto choreography the same way. Most teachers or choreographers will teach you movement phrases in chunks for this very reason. Problems typically occur when the chunk is larger than what you can retain, or when a sequence is particularly lengthy. In your mind, group the choreography into smaller bits if you need to, and look for landmarks in the sequence.

2) Wrap your head around the big, broad movements first. When you focus on which direction to face, certain patterns or pathways, and the number of repetitions, you’ll be able to work inward, picking up more detail each time. Pay attention to where your eyes are looking, whether your leg is supposed to be bent or straight, or what kind of quality the choreographer is demonstrating on a specific turn.

3) Talk to yourself as you learn and practice the movements. This small action, whether you are thinking the name of the step, singing its rhythm, or voicing some mental image you’ve attached to the movement, will help you lock-in the order of the dance material.

4) Watch before you do or question. When learning new choreography, it can be tempting to try to get the moves into muscle memory right from the very first minute. Resist this. You need to get the choreography into your head before your head can direct it to your body. After you have seen a routine a few times and can picture the steps in your mind, you will be in a better position to transfer the knowledge to your muscles.

5) Mark it slowly. Walking through the steps of your choreography slowly will definitely help you remember it more quickly. This technique heightens your awareness of every movement and how it should feel. This accelerates muscle memory as well as mental memory. You can compare this technique to memorizing something that you read. If you speed read, you will remember the ideas but not the words. If you read slow and steady, you will remember both.

Learning new choreography is fun and intriguing, particularly if you can remember the steps quickly. Memory is actually an essential skill in competitive dancing. These tips make learning more manageable and fun, even if you have a history of struggling to pick up new skills.

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