Have you ever been in a dance class and found yourself in the first group, only to realise that you still aren’t sure how the combination starts? Have you ever been in an audition and felt completely stressed about learning the choreography in time? Have you ever been in a rehearsal for a new piece and found it difficult to keep up with the rest of the cast?
If so, don’t worry! Learning choreography is tricky and requires training for your brain and body. Here are our biggest tips to help you pick up new choreography more quickly:
1. Watch Before You Move
As tempting as it can be to start dancing as soon as the teacher begins a new phrase… don’t. You’ll be given time to try it on your own. The first step to learning is watching. Try to see all of the details, from the footwork to the pathway of the arms to the movement dynamics.
2. Take It Slow
Once you’ve got a good mental image of what you need to do, give it a try! Don’t rush to get it perfectly right away. Instead, take it under-tempo and see where the sticky spots are. You can even try to break it down into singular elements. For example, do the footwork first. Then, try out the movements of the arms. Then, put them both together and work your way up to full-tempo.
3. Ask Questions
Once you’ve thoughtfully gone through and tried out the choreography, try to compare what you just did to the mental image you took of how it should look. Are there parts that you think you’re missing? Have you lost some of the details? Now is the time to ask your teacher, so that you have all the information you need as you continue to practice.
4. Focus On Transitions
A common mistake in learning choreography is to focus too much on learning each individual move and neglecting to put thought into how the movements will connect and flow together. One of the best ways to remember a choreographic sequence is to go through each transition for yourself.
As an example, let’s say you’re learning a routine in which a kick with the right leg goes into a complex turn on the left leg. Don’t get caught only practicing the kick a few times and then trying out the turn several times. The most important thing is to practice one going into the next! You’ll never forget to go into the turn if you’ve taken the time to go over that transition and perfect it.
5. Say It/Sing It
Another great tool for picking up a new phrase or routine is to say it or sing it to yourself. Everyone will do this a little bit differently. You can try giving each move a name or sound effect and singing them along as you learn the moves.
As an example, let’s say you’re learning a phrase in which you have two low, heavy steps before a long, light jump. Maybe that reminds you of an angry man flying a kite. You can sing to yourself “angry, angry, flyyyyy” in time with the music. Or, you can use rhythms and counts to sound out the phrase as you dance it. “Boom, boom, ahhhh.” Remember, it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you!
6. Practice, Practice, Practice Again
Once you’ve done all these things, you’re ready to get the new movement sequence into your body. You’ve seen the choreography, you’ve broken it down, you’ve gotten your questions answered, you’ve given yourself the tools you need to remember the order and timing. Now, try it full out and up to tempo! As soon as you’re done, try it again.
Repetition is key for both your brain and your body to take everything in and absorb it.
7. Close Your Eyes
Once you’ve repeated the phrase several times and you’re feeling confident that you have the choreography down, close your eyes and visualise/mark it again. Without being able to see the teacher or any of the dancers around you, were you still able to get through the sequence without any bald spots? If so, you’re ready to go! If not, go back to the repetition stage and keep working.
8. Take As Many Classes As You Can
As we said earlier in this article, the art of learning choreography quickly requires training. The best way to practice and improve is to take as many classes as you can. This will allow you to learn new, different kinds of choreography from lots of different kinds of teachers.
Ready to get into some more classes? Contact us to register!
--Team BoPPA xx