Better Dancer: How to Learn Choreography, Part 1

Learning choreography is a part of dance training, whether you are a social, competitive or performance dancer. It is a tried and true method for dance instruction.

Choreography may be as simple as learning a short sequence of steps as a repetition exercise, or as complex as learning a whole sequence of dances and routines for a show.

Understanding how to learn, recall and perform choreography is as much a personal endeavor as dancing itself is, yet there are some tools you can use to speed you on your way.

Part 1 will cover how to prepare yourself for choreography, Part 2 will cover tips for learning choreography, and Part 3 will cover tips for recalling and improving performance of choreography.

Be Prepared

Preparation is one of the biggest advantages you can have for learning a choreography.

Start with choreography in mind.

You know you are going to learn choreography so there is no use denying or avoiding it. Having a mindset that opens yourself up to the learning process is essential. If you believe you can’t learn choreography, you are sabotaging your efforts before you begin.

Know how you learn

We all have slightly different methods for learning, so prepare yourself by finding out how you process and recall information.  Knowing your core learning styles helps you translate the material you will encounter into something meaningful.  But in the end, remember, dance is about physical movement, so make sure not to neglect how you translate information into movement.

Know your limits and your strengths

Learning choreography is as much an understanding of what we can do and what we can’t do.  If you are learning a choreography outside of your area of expertise, recognize that and don’t set your standards based on your strengths.  If you are sitting in on a Master class choreography and are not at that level know you may not be able to perform to that level, although it doesn’t hurt to try your damnedest.

Know your steps

Choreographies are built upon the understanding of certain basic or core movements in a dance. If you don’t have solid basics and core movement you are going to be struggling from the start. Know your basics and common sequences, practice them regularly (there’s a reason even the best ballet dancers go back to the bar everyday). If you know the choreography is going to focus on specific kinds of movement, dedicate time to practicing and strengthening those.

Maintain your body and mind

If your body is shot and mind frazzled when you step into the studio to learn a choreography, you are assuredly going to stumble and maybe even get injured. Make sure to keep yourself in good health, including eating well, keeping hydrated, stretching, warming up and strengthening your body. Don’t underestimate the power of a limber and ready body.

Have your own tips to prepare for choreography? Leave a comment.