February 19, 2013
Some of you who are adult beginners (or former dancers returning to class) find it difficult to remember and execute center combinations and you’ve asked if I can help you. I’ve come up with a checklist for Learning Combinations which you will see in my first eight posts.
If you find you’re tripping over your feet, can’t keep up with the music, and lose your concentration and can’t remember the sequence of movement, it may not be because you can’t remember, but more because you may have some technical issues.
When you’ve checked the first six potential problems off your list and you think you’ve got them under your belt, then here are some Tips for Remembering Combinations.
The first is to Verbalize when the teacher shows the combination. You should try to say it. If you know the French terminology, say that. If you don’t, make up your own description as best you can. It’s very important that you say something to yourself and not just stand there looking without verbalizing.
At the same time you’re verbalizing, you can be “Marking” — indicating the foot/leg patterns — with your hands. It’s very important you start setting up a script for yourself, because when you do the combination, you’re going to talk to yourself. Or, you’re going to sing to yourself—whatever you think the combination means to you, whether it’s the French terminology or whatever it means to you, or right-left-right-left. You must verbalize and make yourself a script.
The next thing you can do is when you are home, is Visualize. Get in front of a blank wall—I always did this when I danced professionally—I would sit or stand in front of the wall and visualize myself doing the dance I was supposed to perform. And, of course when you do this, you want to visualize yourself dancing correctly! You need to be able to put your vision on the wall because that means it’s getting into your brain, and into your body. This will help you, because it’s all a process of familiarizing yourself with these steps and combinations.
Another thing you can do, either after class, or during the break, is Take Notes. You know you can write something down, because the more you keep saying these things, either by Verbalizing, or Visualizing, or just writing it down and looking at it—these are all keys that are going to help you get the combination into your brain. And, you know it can’t get into your body if it’s not in your brain first.
So, it’s very important that you have a very clear idea of what these combinations or series of steps are so that it all becomes second nature to you. Then, when you hear/see pas de bourrée dessous, right away you’ve got it—you have the whole package—the balancing, the opposition, and the direction.
And, going back to when you’re home, you can go back to Marking. You can do it with your hands, or you can walk through the combination. You may not have much room in your apartment, but try to walk through it with the correct posture, use your eyes and look where you’re supposed to. Try to do the arms. Try to walk through it until the patterning becomes very familiar to you.
The more you use these ideas, you will find it easier to pick and remember the combinations.
In our next post we will provide the final item on your checklist: Study My Videos.
To dance is to live — Finis
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