How to step up your performance and pick up choreography faster, even as a beginner

Do you ever catch yourself scrolling in an endless loop of watching incredible dance videos on Instagram? It’s like you’re sucked in and you can’t seem to put the phone down. We guarantee you that EVERY SINGLE VIDEO that has you so captivated has this one thing in common.

Do you know what it is?

THE DANCERS ARE CONNECTED TO THE MUSIC AND THE STORY. There’s feeling behind every step, every arm movement, even every look of the eye. In short, they are performing with intention the entire time.

You can have the most incredible dancers, technically speaking, doing everything right, but if there’s no feeling behind their movement, the performance is lifeless and the viewers quickly lose interest.

But dance is art! It’s a beautiful form of expression, and it’s waiting for you to step in to its world and tell your story.

Something we always like to highlight in class is the song that we’re dancing to that week. What’s the overall vibe of the song? What is the artist singing about? Is there a story to it? How can you physically connect yourself to the song and make a statement with your movement?

This is something that we’ve pretty much always done in our classes, however, we’ve noticed in our level 1 choreography class that the sooner the dancers become connected to the song and the story they are trying to convey with their movement, the better the learning process is for them.

So whether you are taking class with us or any other choreographers (and in any other style of dance for that matter), here are three major tips to help you learn faster and completely own your performance of the choreography:

1. Dive deep into the song

As soon as your instructor plays the music, start listening to it intently. What do you hear? What stands out to you? How does the song make you feel? Even if you’ve never heard the song before or if you don’t even like the song, find something that you like about it. Otherwise you’ll be fighting with the song the entire class. The sooner you can become attached to what you’re dancing to, the sooner your body will come into alignment with the song.

2. Create a story

Dance is all about speaking with your body, and we want what you have to say to be intentional and actually make sense as you move. So in order to do that, we encourage you to create a story of what you are dancing about.

Whether the song has a very clear story that you can dance to or not, figure out what you want to communicate with the choreography. The instructor is just giving you the framework with movement, it’s your job as the dancer to make it your own, and you can do that with your own story.

For example – You could have two dancers, dancing the same choreography to the same song about love. One dancer is dancing a story about the honeymoon, puppy love phase of love. The other dancer is dancing about a story of love that has been through all of the ups and downs and has stood the test of time. When you think about it, those two stories are very different, and the movement of that same choreography would also look very different between those two dancers. So have fun with your story and get creative. And know, you can always change things as you go.

3. Focus on why you came to the class in the first place

Chances are if you are going to a dance class as an adult, an overarching goal would be to have fun. Even though that’s the goal for most people, we often see dancers get distracted by their own frustration of not picking up every single detail, or they are simply focused on getting everything “exactly right.” We have good news for you. You don’t have to be perfect. And you shouldn’t be! Dance is a reflection of real life, which is messy and raw.  And like we mentioned before, you can have the most incredibly talented technical dancers, but if they are only focused on fitting into the cookie cutter movement and not putting their own splash of color into it, all it is is pretty movement.

When you do these 3 things when learning choreography, the connection to the song, creating a story, and letting go of trying to be perfect allows you to remove some of those distractions that come into the learning process and simply focus on you becoming one with the song and telling your story with your movement. It also makes class so much more fun!

So next time you take class, try these tips out, and let us know how your experience was! 

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