The post is going to start off with something that will seem odd, but stick with me here. It will be worth it.
Consider the following: how hard would it be to recall the statement below and rewrite it upon request?
Every good boy deserves fruit
Anyone who has learned to read sheet music will know where this is from. It is a mnemonic to help you recall the notes for the lines (E, G, B, D, F). The fact that is a mnemonic is important; it is much easier to remember than a series of disconnected letter.
The sentence is like a single thing to recall and thus easier to remembers than the letters at the start of each letter.
Now imagine how hard it would be to recall the series of letters – someone who knows the letters of the alphabet, but not yet how to spell. It would be near impossible.
Imagine now someone who doesn’t know the letters of the alphabet and had to recall each basic shape as a series of lines and circle segments. If the prior task was near impossible, then this would require a near photographic memory.
However, you would be able to reproduce the sentence by simply recalling the single phrase and then reproducing it using the knowledge of the alphabet and spelling that you have gained over the years.
So imagine how easy it would be to recall a dance routine if each figure was like a letter to you. Each line of a routine would be as complicated as a word or a phrase. The whole routine would be a short story. This is what experienced dancers do – especially the ones who can quickly learn a routine. They do not learn each foot placement – they learn letters (the figures). They also work on good penmanship – (the proper posture and top-line and such for each figure). That’s like simply writing in a manner that looks good.
I am not sure how good your hand writing is, but I am pretty sure that you can write a sentence.
How did you get to that stage? Remember how hard you were worked as a child? That was just hard drilling so that the letters of the alphabet were known to you – it might be hard to recall E, G, B, D, F, but you can probably recite the alphabet. If you wanted nice hand writing, then you could have practiced that too – you just needed to put the effort in and you would know that each letter you write would look good.
This principle can be applied to dance. If you have not done so, then try the following:
- Learn each figure (of each style you do) and its name – to the point where if someone says it, then you can recall how it looks and how it feels (you could do it). This step will take a while.
- Take a line of a routine that you are learning and remember each figure in it and in order.
- Give that figure a name that helps you recall that line
- Now do the same for each line of the routine
- Now link the names (in the order of the routine) into a story
- The story is just one thing to remember – it then allows you to recall each word – and each word then lets you recall the figure of each line
This might seem odd at first, but this is how many successful dancers quickly learn new and many routines. They are not recalling one incredibly long figure like many of us do when learning a routine. They are linking together a series of letters into words and then a phrase/story.
So put the effort now into having a total recall of each figure – like learning the alphabet. It won’t be easy, but it will make things much easier in the future – just like learning the alphabet.