Learning choreography for a dance routine is part of a dancer’s daily life. Every dance class, every audition, every job will involve this skill so the below tips will help you master this skill faster. Picking up choreography quickly is vital to successfully audition for work but will also make you feel more confident in class and on stage as a student. Ultimately, these tips will also help you to make the movement your own and stand out from the crowd!
Let’s get ready to slay your next routine by:
BREAKING IT DOWN!
Yes, I mean literally break the routine down into bite size chunks or short sequences of movement. Good choreographers will teach sections of movements at a time then repeat it before moving on. A sequence of movement is approximately 16 counts of music.
Don’t think of your routine one step at a time (like a word) think of your routine in sequences (like paragraphs). This way your brain will recall large amounts of movement in one go because it is linked or clustered together rather than 100 singular steps.
LINK MOVEMENT TO A COUNT, LYRIC OR MUSIC!
When learning movement your choreographer may allocate a count for each step like….
walk 1, 2, 3 kick 4. This is a neat and precise way learn movement but not everyone can do this easily as we all learn in different ways and at different ages. Practicing this method will help you to do it better but let’s say your choreographer doesn’t allocate counts to all movement taught. What then?
You can then use lyrics in the song or part of the music to do this. It may not be for every step but you will remember a sequence of movement commences on a certain lyric or part of the music. This lyrical or musical trigger will help you to recall the movement sequence more easily.
REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT……
It’s simply not enough for most of us to learn a routine and expect to do it again a week later without revision during that time. Repeating what you have learnt daily will reinforce your muscle memory and make movement recall instant and seamless.
The good news is revision can be done mentally, statically or with full movement. If you don’t get the chance to physical revise your routine every day then try visualisation. Visualising your routine can be done anywhere! On the bus going to school, in bed at night or side stage before you perform. This is a proven technique used by professional athletes and dancers.
Static revision is while seated or standing when you simply go over the movement using only your hands. You will often see teachers describing a dance exercise to students like this or dancers at the back of class doing this before executing the movement full out.
Repetition in any of these ways will help solidify what you have learned.
FIND THE RESTS & BURST
Performing a dance routine is a high level energy task requiring dance technique. To sustain your energy and be able to perform the movements safely, in time and beautifully you must understand the Restsand Burstsrequired in each routine.
Restswill be the parts of the movement that allow you to breath deeper, compose yourself for a moment and think ahead. They are the slow or still counts in your routine.
Burstsare the parts of the routine that require full burst of energy (ballistic endurance) and little or no time to think about what you are doing. These are often the faster, more physically demanding sections of the routine. The bursts will require more practice so your body muscle memory can execute them without pause for thought.
TAKE OWNERSHIP OF YOUR MOVEMENT
Once a routine is taught to you and you have memorised it, you should then take ownership of it! As no two bodies are alike, you will naturally perform movement differently to the choreographer or fellow dancers. Your dance training, body size and fitness will impact how you dance as well as your own personal style!
The key here is to understand what makes you unique, can be your biggest and best asset. Embrace the dancer you are and perform the movement your way. While troupe performances need to remain in time and have a sense of unity you will still have many opportunities to– slay it your way!
Happy dancing everyone!
Natasha is a mother of two girls and owner of Momentum Dance Studios in Sydney Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Education & Bachelor of Arts (Dance & Theatre). Natasha is also a volunteer member of ADESA (Australian Dance Education Standards Association) who have created an awareness campaign for child safety in Australian Dance Schools and volunteer for NFP Learning In The Hills.
Follow Momentum Dance Studios via Instagram @momentumdancestudios
and visit the website www.momentumdancestudios.com.au