When it comes to learning figures, sometime breaking them down can help. However, at other times, it will do the opposite.
What makes the difference is the points where you break a figure.
We sometimes break figures up based on the number of movements or where there is a change in direction. This often works well, but be mindful of something.
Sometimes a section of a figure can involve a large number of movements or use movement in one direction to wind the body up for movement in another direction. You can be tempted to learn part of a figure up to the point where there is a change in direction – this seems sensible.
However, when you do not know you are winding up for a change in direction, the earlier moves can seem unnatural. You can dance assuming a continuous movement, which is not congruent with the figure. Then once you understand the change in direction, and the need to wind up, you can do the earlier moves of the figure correctly.
Take a look at the video below of the Ocho Cortado – Tango often has good example of figures where misplaced break points can hamper learning.
Think about points that might at first seem like ideal ones to pause as your learn the figure by breaking it up. Now consider if maybe they would not be ideal for the sake of ensuring that actions are well executed to prepare for future actions.
Consider how you should break up figures – in your head or for practice to make learning and execution easier.