How To Learn a Belly Dance Choreography
If you've recently been taught a Choreographed belly dance routine at a workshop or at a class you will more than likely want to learn it. This can be intimating especially if your a beginner or an improvisation solo performer. The good news is there is no need to worry we can all learn a series of movements and out them together to Practice the Choreographed dance routine. Practice does make Perfect however here are a few little tips before you get ahead of yourself.
Here are some basic tips to start with.
Have a tidy clean space to work in without any interruptions.
This can be a small room or even just a space in your living room free from clutter. Try to practice when your loved ones are out or in bed.
2- Note Book
Get your self a note book and pen dedicated to your dance notes.
Personally I print out Choreography I teach however sometimes the notes need to be edited due to changes made by the myself and the group at the class or Workshop. Also I like to give people short solos or have the group split into smaller groups to do certain movements. For me it just makes the dance look more interesting and for students give you the opportunity to do a very short solo to boost confidence whilst still having the support from your group. It also gives family and friends to see you performing solo and gives them an opportunity to take great photos and videos of you in action. When changes are made or you have your own solo or group sequence you can write it down in you note book so you can refer back to it when you like. Some teachers don't print out Choreography and you have to write your own notes again this is where you book comes in handy.
Practice counting in 8s.
*Note - some music styles are not symmetrical (odd numbered)
Especially in certain belly dance Arabic and Medetaranean styles of dance. As a beginner you shouldn't have to worry for now.
LEARNING & TEACHING STYLES
Teachers should understand the importance in teaching by physically demonstrating, Explaining, Showing and giving you notes to read. Relaying information and asking if you have questions or how you feel. Everyone has their own learning style. Here are some tips for you to learn quickly depending on your style. You may have several learning styles. If so incorporate them all or what suits you.
First of all watch so your brain can take in and process the steps and movements. Watch several times before you practice and then picture them in your mind. This give substance to transfer the knowledge into your muscles.
INTERESTING FACT- Children are like sponges they absorb information quickly this is because they observe and their brains process the information. They have the information first before they do anything with it. This works within Dance. Try it!
5- Ask Questions
Don't be afraid to ask questions. You have paid to learn so you have every right to ask questions. Your teacher shouldn't have a problem with answering your question as best she can and a good teacher is always honest if she hasn't got the answer.
Where Choreography is concerned ask questions so you have new route or tips to learn the correct way to do it.
Take time to listen to what your teacher is telling you whilst she or he is teaching. This may be the key to you learning. Listen to the cues in the music to fit the movements in
7- Take part
Mirror you teacher and follow along. Let the movements fill your muscles so they remember. This is called mucsle memory. Once your mucsle remember they will never forget!
Ussually there are distinct parts of the music that act as cues that you recognise. Where dance is concerned a routine is split into several sequences that fit certain parts of the music.
8- Split these sequences up and practice them step by step. This is called chunking.
9- Practicing the dance routine in chunks.
*Some music especially in belly dance and Arabic dance may not have cues and may not be symmetrical.
This really helps to stimulates your awareness of every movement. Really helping your brain and body to remember it fully. Similar to reading technique.
10 - Slowly walk through the routine without music step by step.
INTERESTING - This technique works on a similar idea to reading. If you scan a page to read you take in the information and scale it down and when you explain what is written you only touch upon a subject. If you read the page slowly and take in the information fully you will have a better understanding of what is written. You will be able to explain what is written thoroughly.
REPEAT SCHEDULE ... Practice makes perfect!!!
Once you have tried the above steps then it is time to really start to practice. The tips below really help you to embed the routine in your long term memory. Infact you can apply any form of learning to this technique. These tips are great for practice. Repitition triggers things you have learned so you really don't forget. The more you repeat the easier it is to go through a Choreography without having to think about it. It will become second nature and help your performance to look smoother. It also helps to deal with nerves and anxiety. If you know your Choreography it will be one less thing to worry about on stage.
11- Soon after workshop or class repeat the Choreography on your own.
12- Repeat again 10 minutes later
13- 1 hour later repeat it in your mind and or physically
14-Repeat all again the next day
15- Try to practice every other day but no less than a week in between.
DEVELOPE YOUR OWN CUES
It's okay for you to follow your teachers cues but remember when you are out there performing without your teacher you won't have her or him to rely on. You have your fellow students but in reality they are in the same boat as you. So you will only have yourself. So when you practice develope your own cues.
16- A simple accent in the music or shift in weight can help you to transition.
17- Certain styles of belly dance music may have a particular rhythm change sound or lyric that can be a cue.
18- Cues can help us to transition successfully leading to more fluidity in dance. Helping performance look more polished and enjoyable to watch.
MENTALLY REPEAT BEFORE YOU GO TO SLEEP
Mental repitition works best when the mind is relaxing.
19- Before you go to sleep our in bed and go through the dance routine just before you go to sleep.
Last but not least....
20- The more you apply all the little tips tricks and techniques to your learning the more you will memorise the Choreography.
Once you are confident in knowing the Choreography the more fluid you will be in you performances.