If you’re new to classes or dance in general, or something that you’re doing for the first time, I’ve compiled a few tips that I believe you can take away some action points and help you throughout your journey. If you find this helpful, please feel free to share some of these tips with others. Let’s get into it! This article is probably still applicable to you if you are a complete beginner and up to about your 3rd and 4th year of dance.
1. Take your time
Dance is a marathon and not a sprint. In today’s age, we kind of expect everything to be instant. Thanks to the growth in technology and our expectations, we have shorter attention spans, and people often get discouraged when something doesn’t come to us straight away.
Learning new gross and fine motor skills has a few stages. In our acquisition phase, it will be your first exposure to new movements and steps. In summary, to get the basics, it may take 30 – 300 reps – and there will be mistakes! Don’t get flustered. Take your time and for the most part, have fun! If you’re not having fun, then why are you dancing?
2. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast
This is a slogan used by special forces soldiers and can be applied to any motor skill learning. If you feel overwhelmed with the speed of some of the movements. Slow it down! Do it to a slower tempo song, find your favourite song and just bug out to it. Youtube is great because we have the ability to slow down the speed that it plays back. If you can find a suitable playback speed, copy along with that until you can memorise the patterns and positions you want to use. Then go off and practice this until it’s really comfortable in your head and you don’t need to think about it too much. As your confidence grows, try faster and faster.
Basically, if you can do the movement slowly, and it becomes smooth, you can increase the speed and you should find that it becomes easier and easier to do! Keep repeating until you can do it at the speed that you want to do it at!
Some recommended mixes, that have a slower tempo can be found here: https://www.mixcloud.com/deepbeatsboutique/playlists/slow-deep-beats-boutique/
3. Do a little each day.
Regarding the retention and transfer of skills after your acquisition phase, new moves you pick up could take anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 week to retain! (Could be longer, everyone is different.)
10 focused minutes a day is better than 1 hour per week! It’s easier to find smaller chunks of time than setting aside a longer time in the week. The smaller sessions allow for the brain to retrieve and solidify all the new movements you’ve been practising. Learn efficiently without overloading the brain and allowing it to organise and store the new information.
Some of you are already doing this and it might be tough to think if it’s good enough to put it out on the internet. But I guarantee once you get over the hurdle of putting your first video online, the rest of it becomes easy! Even some of your favourite dancers go through the same thoughts – but don’t let fear stop you!
Feel the fear and do it anyway! – Susan Jeffers
5. Technique Tuesdays and Freestyle Fridays
Some other ideas that you can take advantage of to train outside of the course, are to pick a technique on and train, film and post it on a Tuesday and/or just film your dance on a Friday and participate on Freestyle Friday, its a great way to keep up your technical and freestyle practice if you are in lockdown and unable to dance with others.
After a few months have passed, you’ll look back at your first video and realise how far you’ve come! This just compounds over years and you keep evolving to new heights!
6. Research and History
It’s important to value the history and research the dance and its culture.
– Find the history of how the dance came about.
– Why and how did the dance get created. What issues did the dance address at its time. Are these issues still relevant now or is the dance addressing any new issues?
– Who created or influenced the dance to where it is today? Are they still alive to learn from to get the original form of the dance to understand its roots?
– How much do you know about the music commonly used in the dance?
– Do you know many of the musicians/artists that regularly contribute to the scene in the past and now?