As I mentioned in the last post, I was recently at a dance recital. In that recital there were a number of routines performed by large groups where each member of the group did exactly the same thing.
In these performances, I noticed a number of people looking at others to ensure that they themselves were on time and doing the right figures. This got me thinking: is it always good to have a visual cue when learning to dance?
Once again, as I also mentioned I did in the last post, I posed this question on a LinkedIn group of dance teachers and coaches. The response was pretty unanimous – many students will rely upon others if they can and follow them. This prevents students from properly learning routines. That’s bad enough; however, it can also prevent students from learning how a figure should feel. One teacher in the conversation said that she would sometimes teach students without mirrors so that the students were less able to follow others or rely on visual cues. Instead, they would learn to trust and develop their memory and pay attention to how their bodies feel.
So what does this mean for you? It means that while it might be uncomfortable, you should isolate yourself from others and from mirrors when learning a routine or even how to do a figure. This will help build your memory and your ability to feel when a figure is done right. You need not do this all the time, but every once in a while will probably help. This could be a good tool for teachers – especially those training a group for a performance.
As an example - I had a friend who did not realise how much she was relying on mirrors and other dancers until she went to a medal night. Only then did she realise that she was always looking in the mirror and using visual cues from others to be able to complete the routine. Not a good place to be.