Whether you are a student or dance instructor, being able to pick up choreography quickly is a crucial skill to develop. While some dancers seem to have a natural ability to memorize moves and combinations faster than others, it’s actually a skill that can be practiced and improved with time and effort.
The more you learn about the movement, its patterns and idiosyncrasies, the easier it is to pre-visualize it. For example, if there is a certain way a swivet is done in one particular style, you can start to recognize that pattern and mentally note it when practicing the dance. This is known as active image streaming and will help you when it comes to memory recall.
Touch can also be a great tool to use to remember a combination. Using the same tools that your instructors use to guide you, try touching the leg you keep forgetting to step with or the shoulder you need to turn toward. This will help you recall the movement when it’s needed on stage.
Another helpful strategy is to play a game called Watch and Learn. Have your instructor or a fellow dancer perform a full combination, without stopping, and see how much you can accurately recall. Once you’ve mastered that, add in another move and see how well you do. It’s a great way to make learning fun and encourages the social interaction that is essential for success in dance.