People sometimes see similarities and sometimes they see differences. We all have our tendencies and each has its advantages and disadvantages.
By understanding what your tendencies are you can better work out if they are helping you or working against you. Then you can put effort into how you think about dance figures so that you can dance better.
People who see similarities
Are you a person who always sees patterns and how things are related to each other?
If you are, then you will find that once you learn one dance learning another is easier. This can make progress faster. However, you will also sometimes find that when you’re trying to do a figure you might do another similar one. You might even find that you will do figures from another style. For example you might find that you start doing a salsa when you do samba. You might also start doing waltz when you should be doing the foxtrot.
People who see differences
Are you a person who finds that every time you are given a new piece of information it requires a new place for it to ‘put’ in your memory?
If that is the case, then you sometimes feel that dance can be overwhelming. You might have chosen to learn only one style, and other styles seem like a whole new world. And while it might take a while to learn all the figures, you know them all perfectly. You do not mix them up. If you decide a figure to do, then you know that is the one that you will do.
People who see similarities, but note the differences
Does everything in the world seem basically the same only different?
If it does then others reading this will assume that you have the best of both worlds. You can use the similarities to learn figures faster, but you note the differences so that you don’t mix them up. This is true at times. However, you will sometimes see too many similarities so that you do mix them and still feel overwhelmed at how much there is to learn.
What to do
Fortunately, no matter your tendency the solution is the same.
Understand the figure that you are doing. Break it down into element. Note the elements that you already know and the elements that are unique. This is a bit like have a tendency to see the similarities and noticing the differences, but you are putting an effort into making sure you know what is similar and what is not.
That’s the basics.
If you are person who sees the similarities, then put a little more effort into noting what is unique to each figure and style.
If you see differences, then try to find the similarities so that you can leverage them for faster learning and understanding of dance.
If you’re in the middle then make sure that you do actually know what is similar and what is different.
Working with your teacher
An experienced dance teacher will know what is similar and what is different so they can help you. Say something like:
- ‘I am mixing these two up: what should I know that is different between the two?’
- ‘Is this completely new or is it like something else I have done?’
- ‘This seems like the other figure it different in this way: is that right?’
This will get your teacher thinking more like the way you do, and they can then help you more.
Of course they have their own tendencies too. If they are the same, then it would make sense for them to know where you have been and they can help you find another way to digest what you need to learn. If they are different, then ask questions like those above will help them work out what you need so that you can move forward.
Letting your teacher know your tendency can by explicitly stating it can help too.
An experienced teacher will have probably developed an intuition for the different ways people see the world and can accommodate. However, there’s nothing wrong with having the conversation to make it clear.