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5 Tips to Memorize Combos, Routines, and Dances

Try out these 5 tips on how to improve your memorization and better understand the material given to you.

1. Find your best way of learning.

2. Think about the BIG movements.

3. Counting will help you pick up choreography more quickly.

4. Match your movements to sounds.

5. Dance full-out every time.

Finding your best way of learning is extremely important. Do you learn from watching, counting, moving your body, or do you need to implement all these learning styles? Put yourself in a spot in the room or near dancers where you can receive these different ways of learning. You know yourself and how you learn best. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or a breakdown of movement and counts. Great teachers will try and cater to all the students needs but some teachers only know how to teach the way that they learn best. Be aware of your teacher’s teaching style and make sure you are learning the way you need to be taught.

Thinking about the BIG movement will help you catch on quickly. Learning a routine in class or a dance combo at an audition can be extremely fast paced and will cover a lot of material in a short amount of time. If you stick with the big movement, the smaller and more intricate moves will fall into place naturally. Center your mind on the places that have an emphasis on the move, or a specific count that a move may be on. For example, you are learning an advanced tap piece but you’re still missing a couple sounds, it’s okay…focus on the big movement and where your weight will shift. Once you figure out where your weight and body should be, or how it should look, you will catch on and your feet will follow.

Counting is a great way to learn choreography. This works for some people well and others not so well. Learning to count the movement will help you get back on track if you lose your spot in the sequence and keep you in sync with the other dancers around you. Counting will also help you learn the timing and where the emphasis goes on a specific move. Be mindful that some teachers do not count when they choreograph, in this case you could ask for counts or just start counting in your head.

Giving moves a sound, listening to the lyrics, and musicality, are all very important. Not all dances and routines match up with counts, but there are other ways to remember what comes next. Words and sounds are very powerful and already help us to remember what we are doing. For example, when you have a pas de bourrée glissade assemble sequence, making a sound to reflect the movement could help you remember quickly and clearly. (example: pa da bu re, ha, ba da) When you are dancing to a lyrical song, it is easy to listen to the musicality and match your body. This is a moment where counting may be difficult, so just feel your movement. This method is all about listening to the music and words and feeling how it sounds when your body changes to match it. This also allows emotion to come out, so don’t be afraid to express your feelings while you engage in your movement.

Go full-out every time. For your body to remember how to move in these specific ways, you need to repeatedly do the movement full out and to your body’s potential. For example, if you need and extended arm or leg and you build a habit of marking it with a bent arm, your arm and leg will not know their full extended length. Going full out in a fast pace dance will help you hit those quick and sharp movements every time, and your muscles will start to remember the dance making it become automatic to your body. Lastly, the more you go full out, the more your body will know and remember what to do, and you’ll be dancing beautifully and naturally.

Overall, don’t let a sequence or routine get you down. Remember, dance is flexible and it’s about expressing your creative passion through movement. Take a chance and step out of your comfort zone - try a hip-hop class or a barre class. You may get it perfect every time, or you may not…however the outcome, don’t forget you are awesome and keep grooving.

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