Every student must learn how to excel at learning choreography (or “combos”), since it’s the backbone of a dance routine. It’s a challenge, but learning how to master the art of choreography can mean the difference between rising to the top, and staying somewhere in the middle.
Luckily, students of all ages and skill levels can put some easy tips into practice in order to strengthen their choreography learning and retention. This allows them to pick up dance routines quicker, and internalize movement in the body instead of just the mind. The result is standing out from the rest and preventing any mistakes on the big day.
Read along to learn how you or your student can implement these tips in their practice schedule.
DON’T LET THE MIRROR BECOME A CRUTCH
Mirrors help us gauge our technique, our poise and our knowledge of a particular dance routine. They’re invaluable for picking out areas where we need to improve, while crossing off areas we’ve managed to excel in. When it comes to choreography, mirrors are a good starting point, but if you’re not careful, they can soon become a crutch. This can actually have an adverse effect on learning choreography.
Consider learning the fundamentals of a routine to establish a solid foundation, and then move away from the mirror. Getting out of your comfort zone means being able to apply the choreography in real time—without the aid of a mirror.
Be sure not to get into the habit of following another dancer through the mirror. The last thing you want is to step onto that stage on the big day without actually having practiced on your own. Mirrors are there to act as a tool to help improve technique, experiment with style and to improve your sense of line. Be sure not to treat it like a set of training wheels. A helpful rule of thumb is: Feel free to learn choreography with a mirror, but master it without one.
APPLY WHAT YOU’VE LEARNED
Teachers, it helps to actually show your work when it comes to choreography. Why not allow the student to demonstrate what they have learned? Not only does this take the teacher out of the equation for a while, but it gives students a little practice when it comes to performing.
By going through the choreography step by step, a teacher can chime in at the end, and provide valuable feedback. Teachers should refrain from jumping in too quickly. Allow the student to perform their routine and show off what they’ve learned so that you don’t overwhelm them with too many critiques.
No matter what task we perform in life, there comes a time when we need to take a break in order to refresh our brains and regain our concentration. Hard work pays off, but too much practice can actually have a reverse effect on your choreography.
Younger students are especially vulnerable to this. Remember that they aren’t as experienced as older students when it comes to picking up choreography. This means teachers need to realize when to take five, and come back with a fresh outlook.
If you or your student is having trouble with choreography, break the routine down to four counts of eight, rather than a full eight, and move on in increments. Sometimes it helps to slice up the choreography into smaller bites so they’re easier for the mind to absorb.
Are you at home learning choreography online? Online dance lessons can become frustrating if the image or teacher gets reversed, which may happen with some apps. If this is the case, ask your choreographer to turn around so you can view them from the back. They can also help by clarifying if they are using the left or right when starting a combo.
At the same time, there are some great benefits to home learning. All classes are recorded so students can reach out to the admin team to get access to recordings and practice along. What’s more, some students benefit from rewatching a video and writing out the steps. Everyone is different when it comes to learning!
And, if you’re ever unclear about something, feel free to reach out to teachers for clarification. Don’t forget to ask questions!
PRACTICE YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS!
You know this one was coming! In the end, it all comes down to practice. The more you stick with it, and the more you refuse to get discouraged, the quicker you’ll master your choreography.
Practice requires mixing the tips listed above in order to balance out your dance strategy, so you can memorize a routine quicker. Don’t neglect the little things in an effort to become perfect. None of us are, but striving for that goal means acknowledging that we’re only human. Your success will come, provided you balance yourself first.
The key to mastering choreography mostly boils down to hard work, concentration and a positive spirit. Sprinkle the above tips onto a seed, and watch it bloom!
For more information on how CDM Dance & Music can get you or your child started in the wonderful world of dance, please contact us!