How to Pick Up Choreography
Sometimes it can be difficult to pick up new choreography, especially if you’re new to dance and are just finding your feet. This can be frustrating, but you will eventually be able to work at a quicker pace which can be useful for many reasons. The most obvious one is that it makes you more time efficient. Efficiency can benefit both the professional / non-professional dancer because who doesn’t want to get more done in less time? So, here are a few tips to help you along the way. The more you practice different combinations, the easier it will become. I promise.
Challenge Yourself with New Styles
I find that the more time I spend with a certain teacher, the more I am able to adopt their flow which makes it very easy to pick up movement. However, when I am working with a brand new teacher / choreographer I have to really think about new movement patterns because I have no muscle memory of their movement. I find that that taking class in a different dance style is also a great way to challenge myself.
Watch Your Teacher
Actually watch them do the next set of 8 counts before you start trying it yourself, otherwise you’ll miss the details. I have found this to be most beneficial to me as a dancer. I watch and then do it with them and then it’s there, in my mind, with all the extra details. Once you feel like you have it in your mind, dance it full out every time so that your body can remember it too.
When I was a young dancer in a jazz class, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I came from a gymnastics route and I felt very hopeless when it came to jazz technique. I put myself at the back of the class, until one day the teacher asked me to come to the front. This was a pivotal point in my training. When I was at the front I had no one to copy and I had to think for myself. It forced me to use my own memory and to actually see the details that I could hear the teacher explaining. I have always pushed myself to the front of the class ever since.
Keep a Journal
Writing things down contributes positively to all things in life, including dance. If you are really having a hard time retaining choreography, write it down as obvious as possible so that you can remember. E.g. standing left side of the pole, right hand slides up the pole 1,2,3,4, drop immediately to floor on 5, shoot out to front on 6 and hold for 7,8. Refer back to notes if you get stuck, but always try to do it without first.
Everybody has a tendency to lose concentration; you might be learning a new combination and then suddenly you start thinking about something completely different. Meditation is a great way to find clarity and focus. Even a short 5 minutes every day will help you become more present, in the moment and mindful of your movement. If you have a timer on your smart phone, set a timer for five minutes, sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Focus on your inhalation and your exhalation. You could count for 4 seconds in and 4 seconds out. Let your breath be your focus for 5 minutes each day for a few weeks and don’t give up straight away. Progress takes time! Eventually you will benefit from better focus, enabling increased movement memory and therefore a heightened ability to pick up complex choreography.
Hopefully, these tips are useful to your on your journey to becoming a better dancer / choreographer.