By. Brian Henninger
We all know that in our industry of professional dancers time is money. It is normal in our industry to have far less rehearsal time then needed to put any type of performance or video shoot together. Its just a fact of our business that we are expected to be able to pick up and retain choreography at a very fast pace, and be able to interject our own style and performance quality immediately. To be marketable and sought after for jobs our choreography pick up has to be lightning fast, so if your a dancer who naturally has a harder time picking up choreography then check out these 3 easy easy was to speed up your pick up!
Learn without a mirror: There are reasons that dance conventions are great learning tools for dancers. One such reason is the fact that your forced to learn without a mirror. Mirrors, while useful in being clean and working on formations, are also distractions to dancers because it allows you to focus to much on everyone else in the room rather then yourself. When you learn without a mirror you are forced to trust your body and half to pick up by watching the instructor from behind and mimic their movements. Learning in this environment will help you pick up choreography faster because you have less time to analyze how you look in the mirror, and when do you go back to having a mirror to learn over time your choreography pick up will get faster and faster.
Move around while you learn: Whether your in a studio or a convention, you can speed up your pick up by moving around the room while you’re learning. Think about it in terms of going to an audition, often times you are super cramped in the space and probably don’t have your first choice of where to stand. Being able to learn from any spot in the room will make your pick up more versatile and faster because you’ve broken your self of the mental block that can happen when you get overwhelmed in a crowded audition room.
Ask your teachers to take class with a handicap: Just like in golf, we can take class with a handicap. Ask your teachers if you can come in 5-10 minutes after they begin teaching the combo, stand in the back, and challenge yourself to keep up and catch up to the choreography. Since you will be behind the rest of the class and fumbling through the movement at first while you scramble to keep up, make sure not to be in the middle of a group of dancers because you might end up elbowing someone ( Watch your spacing 🙂 ). At first this will be extremely nerve wracking and difficult because you will have to pick up the first few 8 counts just by watching since you will have missed the teacher breaking them down. Fight the urge to ask questions as well so that you are forced to use your brain instead. Over time this practice can drastically change your pick up speed. It will also completely rid you of that anxiety that can come when your in a class and there is a section of choreography that is tripping you up because your mind will be stronger and faster at breaking movement down.
These are just a few ways that you can increase your choreography pick up and set yourself up for more success in your career by being a dancer that can retain choreography right away, in addition to being a great freestyler, and a strong performer. This dance industry is always in a rush to get projects completed by deadlines. Ideally we would have twice as much time to put together these performances for T.V. Film, and Stage Tours. Unfortunately its simply not the world we live in, and everything is always rushed. Being able to thrive in those high pressure environments will make you a strong member of every production your hired for. Try out these 3 strategies and see how they work for you. Best of luck!
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