When Studying any New Dance Form:
Style Comes Last… As a dance student myself, from age 5, I had a natural ability to pick up movement quickly which helped me advance to the top of my class in every dance style.
Here are the tricks to picking up movement quickly:
You need to focus on the priority first:
1. FEET FIRST:
First you must know what the feet are doing direction, size of step, placement (toe, heel, flat etc.)
2. TIMING & LEAD SECOND:
Learn the rhythm or timing or count and arm actions (lead).
3. STYLING LAST:
Then see the core of the body to see where the movement initiates from (this is the style). This is the finishing touches that help a movement look more polished. This is where you can learn the vertical and horizontal lines of body parts, torso rotations and undulations, leaning to one side, shoulder rolls, hip circles, styling the limbs, head placement, where the weight is distributed..etc.
This is the order! You cannot jump ahead to the body movement before you know what the basic footwork and rhythm are. This will save you tons of money in lessons, and allow you to truly learn your basics before you torture yourself learning advanced body rolls when you don’t know which way to step!
HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR LIVE DANCE CLASSES
1. Arrive early (many beginner students miss the first 5-10 minutes of class where we go over the basics and are lost for the rest of the class). It is also disruptive to the rest of class when you arrive late.
2. Learn what the feet are doing first and the timing/rhythm or count.
3. Learn the numbers- don’t have the attitude that you don’t want to learn the counts, because you just want to “feel it”- not understanding counts hinders your advancement.
4. After you know what your feet are doing, then learn the lead with the hands and arms and what count each lead happens
5. Don’t worry about styling till the end
6. Don’t talk in class: the lesson is only an hour or two and there are so many things to learn and memorize. It is not a time to socialize. Be flirtatious but wait till after class to hook-up
7. Be polite to everyone. Even if you feel that the student is less advanced than you, you can always learn something (either being a stronger leader to make it easier for the lady to follow, or for the ladies, having better core control so that when a beginner leads you incorrectly, you have balance and control of your step). It also creates a joyful, fun atmosphere. It should not be intimidating or too serious because someone is making you feel that you are not good enough.
8. Practice afterward (try the whole combination at least 10 times!) Yes, 10 times, because repetition creates muscle memory and soon the moves will be seamless without too much thought leaving you more focus on more advanced technique or styling.
9. Try to concentrate all your lessons in a short amount of time (i.e. don’t wait 3 weeks between lessons) so you can immerse yourself into the dance and not forget the previous lesson.
10. Use your cell phone video camera to film yourself at the end of every class or film your teacher (if allowed) so you can review on your own time.