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RETURN TO BLOG Posted 19 November 2020

Remembering Choreography

By Claudia Dean

We all know that picking up choreography quickly and remembering it with precision is a necessity for our exam work, audition work & general class work. When you join a company, remembering choreography becomes a priority due to the amount of repertoire you’re required to learn & take in at once. Teachers, directors and choreographers will appreciate and value a dancer who has the focus and discipline to remember what they have demonstrated. Learn my tips below on how to pick up choreography fast & remember it under pressure!

In order to pick up steps with precision and speed, you need to focus 120% of your energy  on what you are learning in the present moment. If you find your mind wandering, work on disciplining yourself to bring your concentration back to the task at hand. You may find it difficult to enter rehearsals or class with a clear mind, especially if you are tired, not in a positive mood or worried about problems in or outside the dance studio. If your mindset is not open to learning or you are preoccupied with other thoughts, you may find it hard to pick up corrections or choreography easily. In order to focus and take in every step with clarity, your brain needs to be trained and disciplined to pay attention, regardless of how you feel.

Writing down all the steps in a notebook is the best way to lock the choreography in your head. Noting down the steps in the order you will be dancing them will help your brain take in the choreography better. Once you’ve noted the choreography down, then download the music and visualise yourself performing the exercise or piece, whether it is for an exam, competition or simply class work.Try reading through your notes, listening to your music and imagining yourself going through the motions.  Analysing each step will help you remember both corrections & choreography. Once you feel confident about the order of the steps, try putting your notebook aside and gently marking through the combinations, focusing on corrections and timing. Do this before heading into class and rehearsals to be at the top of your game as soon as you walk in the door! 

You can also try creating a ‘focus ritual’ before you step into the studio. Take the time to visualise yourself performing the choreography to get you into the zone before you are step in front of important teachers/directors. This can be a fantastic way to let the choreography settle in your head before class, rehearsals or performances too. 

At the Royal Ballet we had access to a video room we could visit at any time to learn choreography. Every ballet the company had ever done was saved across several computers! I would go in to watch, learn the correct choreography & write down every step, in order, in my notebook. I still have this special notebook, filled with over 50+ different ballets I learnt with the Royal Ballet!

I did this because in a company, you can be learning up to six ballets at a time! Being a quick thinker, adaptable & remembering choreography meticulously is incredibly valuable to any school or company and a sure way to stand out for the right reasons! Occasionally, you may need to step in for a role you haven’t learnt yet, on very short notice. Success happens when opportunity meets preparation, so having the practice of remembering & picking up choreography fast will allow you to take on role opportunities at any time! 

 Much like practicing choreography to get it perfect, picking up combinations requires practice too! Challenge yourself to actively work on your ability to learn and remember rapidly - don’t rely on copying other dancers or waiting for your teacher’s prompts. Be the dancer who is absolutely confident about every detail, applies all the corrections and can help anyone out who may have questions. When learning choreography, I like to think of my mind as a computer, processing each step as I learn it, so it locks in. Having this mental cue helps me visualise choreography in my mind to pick it up rapidly or remember clearly. 

To practice & test yourself picking up choreography fast, you should complete all of my tutorials on the platform. My tutorials allow you to learn choreography, rehearse it, learn corrections with me & then perform it! If you click on ‘Intro-Beginner Follow Alongs’, ‘Beginner Follow Alongs’, ‘Intermediate Follow Alongs’ or ‘Advanced Follow Alongs’ & test your choreography skills with me! 

Coming into rehearsals prepared, organised and concentrated will make you appear confident and professional. Good preparation is key to remembering choreography, making you an incredibly valuable asset to a company that performs a frequent and wide repertoire. You can do this! 

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