Sometimes when you’re working on your dance it seems that there are just too many things going on. It’s almost like everything is going wrong. There’s no one thing that you can work on because everything seems at fault.
This is common amongst beginner dancers or when you come back to dance after a break or when you need to move from one level to another. I have experienced it a few times. It can all seem overwhelming and cause a lot of doubt in your ability to dance.
Do you know what I am talking about?
When you’re in these situations, reductionism might be exactly what you need.
What is reductionism?
Reductionism is a philosophy that all things can be broken into parts and that by understanding each part you can understand the system.
Reductionism has its limits, but at times it can be an excellent tool to become a better dancer.
Why should you use reductionism to be a better dancer?
The great benefit of reductionism in dance is that it allows you to work out what the real issue is. It lets you focus your efforts more intensely. It speeds up development. And it helps you feel better by breaking a large amorphous and confusing problem into a series of small easier ones that you can conquer one at a time. Humans are not that good at taking on a large number of problems at once – even if we like to think we are.
This is what can make dance seem so overwhelming at times.
Reductionism can also make your classes more enjoyable. If you work on solving a lot of smaller problems outside of class, then you can spend your class bringing everything together. This is always more fun. It's certainly no fun continually halting a lesson or having troubles because each time you try to dance one of a number of smaller problems holds you up.
Finally, partner dance can often be helped a lot by reductionism. If you look at each aspect of partner dancing, and then focus on improving each in turn, then you cannot help but become a better dancer. I have heard teachers say to students things like ‘You have good timing so that means we can work on other things’ or ‘Your posture is really good so let’s focus on your timing’ or ‘You’re very confident.That’s good because we can now just worry about teaching you to dance.’ Imagine if a teacher were to say to you ‘You have really good posture, you can keep time, you’re confident and you move really well.’ It would be a sign that things are going to go very well for you. That’s what a reductionist approach to partner dance can do for you.
How do you use reductionism in dance?
To use reductionism in dance you need to think about what the elements of dance ability are. A list (and sub lists) that I have found useful is:
- Musical expression
- Learning ability
- Social skills
This is not a complete list, but you will find that the majority of issues that you can have as a dancer will fit into one of the elements of this list. Sometimes it will be a couple. Maybe you have issues leading because you are not yet confident enough, but also because you’re still focusing on the timing. Or maybe you forget how to respond to a lead because you’re so fatigued from forcing your posture.
Nevertheless, next time you have an issue, work out which elements of the above the issues is related to. Ideally it should be one. Then work on improving that skill without worrying about dancing. If it’s timing then buy a metronome or a video on improving musical timing. If you have issues with posture, then take some yoga classes. If it’s confidence, then see a hypnotist. Focus on that one issue, solve it, and then carry on with your dancing. You will feel better and more confident for solving the problem and your dance ability will automatically improve.
More tools for reductionism and better partner dancing
Sign up to the right of this post get a free e-book with advice on how to improve each element of dance. However, you can always look elsewhere for each issue that you have. I just know that the free e-book will be an excellent start for a dancer looking to benefit from reductionism.