Here are a Few Tips to Help You learn how to Memorize Choreography.
Find Your Own Style of Learning
There are three basic types of learners- Audio, Visual and Kinesthetic. Some people learn best by watching(visual), while others learn by paying attention to what they hear(audio). Some people find it easy to learn by using physical movement(kinesthetic.) Which method of learning and memorizing works best for you? If you're not not sure, read the descriptions below and try some of the tips. You may be one or a combination. Whatever your learning style, use it to your advantage.
If you learn best by visualizing, take the written notes given to you for choreography and consult them as you learn. Also picure yourself performing each step. If you learn best by hearing, ask the instructor for permission to record what he/she says during class. Focus on listening to what he/she says and listening to what the music is doing as you practice it.
If you learn best by using physical movement, focus on how to do the transition from one move to the next. Try and imagine your body dancing the work from your emotions. How does the music and moves make you feel? Think about the muscles you need to activate in order to accomplish the choreography. This is a great way to still work the memory and nerve pathways in your body without overworking your muscles.
You may have additional ideas on how to draw upon your preferred learning techniques to memorize choreography. Experiment with them, and explore what works best for you.
Every dance routine can be broken down into a series of familiar steps and combinations. Good dance instructors make an effort to instill core skills in introductory classes, urging students to learn both the step as well as the name of the step.
Break up the routine into sections. Try to learn the choreography from the top, but if there are moves that are difficult, learn those independently.
Watch Your Dance Instructor Closely
Choreography is generally taught in series of step combinations. Watch your dance instructor closely as he/she demonstrates the steps. Good dance teachers will stand in front of the class and demonstrate each step slowly. Wait until the teacher has completely finished demonstrating before trying the steps yourself.
Understand the Music
Listen closely to the music. Pay attention to beats and tempo changes.
Try to mentally associate certain steps with strong beats or lyrics of the song. Remember that step combinations are often repeated each time the chorus of a song is played. Get a copy of the music from your instructor so that you can practice your routine at home.
Some instructors will give you written notes. Some won't. If yours gives you notes, keep them with you while he/she is teaching and consult them to see what words she used to describe each move that she teaches. If not, jot down your own notes. Then add your own comments to explain the move in words that you will understand. Draw stick figures if necessary. Make up a story in your mind to help you convey the music and steps. The act of describing the moves in your own words will force your brain to analyze them, and that will help you remember.
Break it Down
Choreography is in essence a sequence of movements, long or short. Experienced dancers can understand and recall large chunks of sequence quickly, while less experienced dancers understand more basic chunks.
Just like building with legos, you need to put the pieces together one by one to form each chunk and then assemble the chunks into a larger whole. Begin with chunk sizes you can process easily (whether that is 8 counts of movement or a full phrase of music). Start at this level and begin combining them into larger chunks.
Work on creating several larger chunks individually, then assemble the larger chunks into the even larger chunks until you have assembled the whole choreography.
Don't be too hard on yourself if it seems to take you a little longer than others to learn the choreography of a dance routine. Concentrate on each step. The more comfortable you are with the steps, the easier it will be to link them together in your mind.
Set realistic goals for learning the choreography. Figure the amount of time you need to learn it and plan accordingly. You want to make progress while learning the routine. The more of it you know, the more confident you will get.
Your ability to learn routines quickly will improve over time, as your mind will grow accustomed to forming associations. Practice will bring about improvements in all areas of your dancing, which will make it easier to learn complicated step combinations.
This is particularly beneficial for auditory learners. If your teacher is a vocal type you may find already that when you perform certain sequences that it’s their voice in your mind. That’s ok too. Just fill in the gaps with your own voice and you will have the whole thing in memory fast.
Say the moves over in your head as you are doing them. You don’t need to give a detailed description of the finer points, just something that will cue your memory, e.g.” 1,2,3,4,5 step, turn, double on the Right , double on the Left’”
Don’t have time for a 15 minute revision at home? Try this -as soon as you get home from class, run over what you learned. That means, before you have a shower, before you get the kids dinner, before you feed the cat, before you ask ‘how was your day dear?’, before you check your emails! Most class pieces are between 3 and 5 minutes. Your work/ family and / or friends can last 5 minutes longer. It is amazing how this independent quick revision helps. Even if you don’t get it all right it is like saying to your brain – I want to remember that long term and it helps to shift it from your short term memory to your long term memory.
Don’t have much time but want to do better? Read over your choreography. Do so slowly and visualise what you would be doing if you were dancing it. The great thing about this is that you can do it anywhere you have down time. Instead of hand writing it you can type it out and put it on your phone or ipod touch (you can do this via email for instance). That way if you have any spare time i.e. on the bus or train, waiting for an appointment, etc, you can be positively reinforcing your dancing.