Secrets for Memorising Choreography

January 27, 2011 , , Tina Kapp
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Since starting up our Bollywood Show it’s been great fun getting back into group choreographies. I’ve only choreographed my belly dance performance for MBDSA otherwise if I’m dancing alone I stick with improv which I think gives belly dance that special, unique feel.

However, dancing with a group does need to be choreographed well with good variety and formation. Each dancer needs to not only know all the steps properly but also the order and timing of the steps to make it work. That takes practice, some more practice and finally PRACTICE. 🙂 Something I used to dread but now just value greatly. It gives you far more confidence on stage if you know your material like the back of your hand so you can actually relax and have performing and that’s priceless!

Here are some great tips on memorising choreography from Amanda’s Blog:

One of the most important skills for a new dancer is being able to learn the steps of a dance routine. Not many people realize how much brain and memory ability is required for becoming a successful dancer. Not only must a dancer be able to execute several dance steps, he or she must also be able to remember the steps in a set order.

The following tips will help you learn how to quickly memorize dance routines.

1. Know Your Steps
Every dance routine can be broken down into a series of familiar steps and combinations. Good dance instructors make an effort to instill core skills in introductory classes, urging students to learn both the step as well as the name of the step.

2. Watch Your Dance Instructor Closely
Choreography is generally taught in series of step combinations. Watch your dance instructor closely as she demonstrates the steps. Good dance teachers will stand in front of the class and demonstrate each step slowly.

Wait until the teacher has completely finished demonstrating before trying the steps yourself. Some dancers follow right along with the instructor, mimicking the steps as they are demonstrated. If you fail to watch first, you risk missing part of the step. It is better to watch first and then try.

3. Understand the Music
Dance usually combines movements with music. When a choreographer creates a dance routine, the chosen music selection is vital to the success of the dance. A piece of music is often selected because it possesses certain beats and tempo changes.

Listen closely to the music. Try to mentally associate certain steps with strong beats or lyrics of the song. Remember that step combinations are often repeated each time the chorus of a song is played. Get a copy of the music from your instructor so that you can practice your routine at home.

4. Take Notes
Some instructors will give you written notes. Some won’t. If yours gives you notes, keep them with you while she is teaching, and consult them to see what words she used to describe each move that she teaches. Then add your own comments to explain the move in words that you will understand. Draw stick figures if necessary.

Don’t just passively accept the notes and put them away. The act of describing the move in your own words will force your brain to analyze it, and that will help you remember it.

5. Know yourself enough to understand how you learn
Different people learn in different ways. Some of us learn best by absorbing information by watching while some of us learn by paying attention to what we are hearing and some of us learn best by using physical movement. Assess yourself – and decide which learning style works best for you?
Now that you know which way you learn best, think about how you can use that knowledge to learn choreography more easily.

So if you learn best by seeing take the written notes given to you for the choreography and consult them as you learn. If she doesn’t give you written notes, write your own and in an explanation you will understand.
If you learn best by hearing, ask the instructor for permission to record what she says during class. Focus on listening to what she says, and listening to what the music is doing as you practice it.

If you learn best by using physical movement, focus on how to do the transition from one move to the next.
You may have additional ideas on how to draw upon your preferred learning techniques to memorize choreography. Experiment with them, and explore what works best for you.

6. Practice
As with any new skill, practice makes perfect. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it seems to take you a little longer than others to learn the choreography of a dance routine.

Your ability to learn routines quickly will improve over time, as your mind will grow accustomed to forming associations. Practice will bring about improvements in all areas of your dancing, which will make it easier to learn complicated step combinations.

The more comfortable you are with the steps, the easier it will be to link them together in your mind.

I hope this article has given you insight and useful advice on learning choreography. Implement these ideas and you are on your way to be a dancing star in your class choreographies.

– Belly Dance Divas

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