help me learn a dance routine.
November 21, 2012 12:27 AM   Subscribe

I need to learn a dance routine for a video clip I am starring in. I can remember all the moves, but am struggling to remember what comes next as I do the dance. How can I make it stick in my brain?

The video is shooting on Saturday. I will have approximately 2 hours on each of the next 3 days where I can practice the moves and I will probably have a few hours each day at work where I can watch videos or write or do anything not involving waving my arms around.

The dance routine is kind of 5 different sections (Intro, Chorus and 3 x Verse), made up of 4-6 different moves. I know the order that the sections go in the song, but will usually get lost after 1-2 moves in each section, it will take me a moment to remember but by then I am out of time and it just looks terrible.

The actual moves are from various 90's songs (Wannabe, 5678, Macarena, Vanilla Ice.)
posted by lrobertjones to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
practice and repetition
practice and repetition
practice and repetition
practice and repetition.

Just keep doing it over and over. Treat it like building blocks - get the first sequence down, then the next, and keep adding. Identify start/stop sections (verse and chorus) and practice those strings individually, then link them together. Listen to the music, over and over, while doing this.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:14 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

You need a mnemonic device.

Maybe make the moves into a story. Say the first move's motion reminds you of squeezing orange juice, the next reminds you of the corpse position of old fashioned mummies, the third is like shooing away gnats. As you're dancing, you think: "Okay, time to have breakfast with that mummy... First I'm gonna make some juice, now I'm giving it to the mummy, now I'm keeping the gnats away from his stale corpse."
posted by Specklet at 1:18 AM on November 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

Another trick is to practise the routine from the end. That is, practise the last move. Then practise the last two moves in sequence. Then practise the last three moves together, and so on.

This helps make sure you know the sequence, without having to start at the beginning. After all, forgetting your place in the middle of the routine is about equivalent to starting the routine from the move you're doing at the moment you get lost.

This trick also makes sure you're getting in some good practice of the end of the routine, rather than a million repetitions of the first ten bars followed by distraction and tea breaks.
posted by emilyw at 1:32 AM on November 21, 2012 [5 favorites]

Do it really, really slowly. Really really slow. Make sure you think ahead to the next move while you're doing one. Once you've got them stitched together, you can start going faster. And if you get stuck - suddenly, oops, what's next? - take that section apart in slow motion before working up to normal speed. Speaking as a pianist.

And when you can't practise dancing itself, run through the sequence (like Specklet says) in your mind.
posted by undue influence at 1:34 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm with Specklet - make it into a story that you can tell yourself, give each move a name and have a way (however ridiculous) of linking them together. I have practised choreographed dances in the past and this WORKS!
posted by beccyjoe at 3:02 AM on November 21, 2012

Yes, lots of practice is one part. You don't have to do the actual dance - you can practice the moves very subtly while sitting down, at work, etc., and that can still help.
posted by carter at 3:03 AM on November 21, 2012

Listen to the music you'll be dancing to whenever you can, and associate the moves with the music, especially the transitions.
posted by third word on a random page at 3:38 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

During those times you have at work, rehearse it in your head, even if that just means listening to the music and silently going "Macarena Macarena Macarena Macarena and Wannabe Wannabe Wannabe Wannabe now 5678 5678 5678 5678 then...."

I can't do mnemonics, personally, though many people love them.

Also, basically you have to know the routine so well that you are able to think ahead. As you are discovering there's a big difference between pretty much knowing it and knowing it down cold. By the time you start one move you should already know what the next move is going to be.

(And if all else fails, cue cards?)
posted by mskyle at 5:21 AM on November 21, 2012

Break down the song into movements, associate the melody with each move. So in your head you should be thinking "step, step, wave (oh yeah), thrust.. left-right (uh huh), bump, bump, hop, hop.. etc." to the music. It really helped me learn coreographed sequences and even now, I can still remember the moves when I hear "Baby, One More Time" ha.
posted by loquat at 5:51 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Even if you only get some physical practice time you should be mentally reviewing it whenever you can. In the shower, bus or drive to work, taking a poop, eating, whenever, where ever- you need to be mentally imagining yourself doing the moves as well.
posted by raccoon409 at 6:13 AM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

I listen to the music ALL THE TIME. Even if it's the same track, on constant repeat on my iPod. (By the end of this, you'll likely be completely sick of the song, but it's only for a couple more days.)

I'll also sing the choreography to myself. So for a particularly complicated section of one that I do, it's something like "steeeeep flip up-rolldown down-rollup steeeeep flip up-rolldown down-rollup updown up up down..." and so on and so forth.

Seconding starting at the end and working your way backwards. That way, you'll always be coming up on a section that you're more familiar with.
posted by sperose at 6:49 AM on November 21, 2012

Find the first sticky part you come to and do those three or four steps over and over again until it feels solid. Then start all over again from the beginning and find the next difficult part. It takes time but it's the only way I learn any dance.
I agree with thinking through the routine in your head. Do it at a red light, waiting in line, while brushing your teeth, while at your desk at work. Soon you won't be able to get it out of your head. Be specific when you're doing this. Really think about what pathways your limbs would be taking to get to the next point.
I took lots of dance classes in college and it took me a lot longer to pick up on things than the "real" dancers, but trust me, you'll get it! And remember to have fun! Don't make the Macarena stressful!
posted by missriss89 at 8:31 AM on November 21, 2012

Make sure you know the song really well, and practice practice practice to the song. You need your brain to match the moves with the words/music.

If you weren't taught "names" for the moves, make them up. Say them out loud when you do them, that will also help you remember.
posted by radioamy at 9:31 AM on November 21, 2012

One trick I use for learning complex pieces of music, my own dance routines and set pieces in martial arts is to mainly practice the transitions once I know the steps. So I top and tail - I do the starts and ends of each section, including the join between the two. That way you try to take out the thinking time - should become automatic.
posted by kadia_a at 11:55 AM on November 21, 2012

How'd it go?
posted by Specklet at 3:47 PM on November 28, 2012

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