“Dance is the hidden language of the soul.” - Martha Graham
More women dance than men. However, whether you’re a man or a woman, the first thing you need to do when you dance is learn a few steps.
Dancing makes use of your kinesthetic memory through movement and repetition. This is a great way to train your memory but you also need to concentrate if you want to memorise choreography or create your own.
Here’s our advice for mastering the art of remembering choreography.
Things You Need to Know to Master Choreography
To learn how to dance and master choreography, there are certain steps you’ll need to take. If you take lessons in a dance school (Cuban salsa, swing, Eastern dance, etc.), your teacher will be your guide. They’ll help you learn the steps and start you off with some basic choreography.
You’ll familiarise yourself with rhythm and different styles of dancing and you’ll soon be able to apprehend and anticipate which steps are coming next. Don’t hesitate to put together a playlist of the music that you listen to in your lessons so that you can listen to them again in outside of class. This will help you to feel more comfortable in your classes.
In any case, it doesn’t matter what style of dancing you’re doing, here’s our advice for memorising choreography.
- Focus! Watch your teacher carefully before trying it yourself. Make sure you stay focused on every explanation and take on board any feedback you’re given.
- Count the steps. As a beginner, a bachata, ballet, or jazz teacher will teach you how to count along to the movements. Keep in mind that most music has 8 counts (you’ll also often count the off-beats). This is the best way to dance in time to music.
- One thing at a time: don’t try to memorise what your legs, arms, head, and body need to be doing all at once. Take it step-by-step. Start by mastering one aspect of the choreography before adding the other parts. This will help you to better memorise exactly what each step consists of.
- Create mental pictures: certain steps may make you think of something. For example, a turn might remind you of using a compass in maths class in school. Create memorisation techniques and reminders to help you.
- That’s a wrap! Ask your Argentine tango, west coast swing, or contemporary dance teacher to film the choreography so that you can analyse it and practise it at home.
- Write down the choreography: this is going a bit above and beyond but it can help you memorise the steps.
- Repeat regularly: practice makes perfect. To progress and memorise choreography, you have to regularly practise!
The Easiest Choreography to Learn
Even if you don’t do private tutorials in Latin dance, ballroom dancing, or contemporary dance, you might still end up in a situation where you need to dance like on a night out or at a wedding. It’s quite common for events to include a time when you’ll have to get up and dance.
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And there you are, sitting in a corner, petrified that you’ll embarrass yourself because you don’t know any of the moves. You might know the Macarena, Madison, or even the Kuduro.
Don’t panic! They might seem tricky but they can all be learnt quite easily. You can find dancers on YouTube who’ve filmed a tutorial to get you started with some of the most common dances. You’ll soon be lighting up the dancefloor!
Learn at least one simple dance that regularly comes up:
- The Macarena
- The Madison
- Danza Kuduro
- Gangnam Style
- Waka Waka
- Ai Seu te Pego
- December 1963 (Oh, What a Night!)
- The dance from Pulp Fiction
- Even the hokey cokey!
- (We won’t judge!)
Learn more about the easiest dance routines.
Learning Choreography on YouTube
You can move to a higher level with increasingly complicated choreography. You might be interested in group lessons or private dance tutorials before you get started with some of these dance routines.
We’re talking about songs like Thriller, Single Ladies, or even Level Up. However, some popular songs are accessible to beginners. For example, you can learn the dance to Taki Taki. There are plenty of great YouTube tutorials on how to dance to this song.
Similarly, you can even learn how to dance the Bachata on YouTube. Don’t hesitate to search for “beginner dance tutorials” and a particular style or song.
You’ll find a treasure trove of different dance routines including rumba, contemporary dance, and even step-by-step Bollywood dance tutorials. Choose the ones you like the look of before starting and check how popular they are. A good dancer doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re a good teacher.
A good YouTube video will have:
- High-quality video and audio: there won’t be an echo and you should be able to hear the teacher. The image should be clear and there should be several angles to help you.
- A good teacher: clear explanations without unnecessary jargon. Clear counting with the steps.
- Step-by-step learning: the choreography should be broken down into several parts before attempting the whole thing together.
- Learning without music and then with it: the movement should be learnt slowly before doing them progressively more quickly until you can do it along with the music.
Don’t forget the principles of choreography that we mentioned earlier on.
Once you know a few dance routines, you can start making your own. But you don’t know where to begin... Becoming a choreographer may seem out of reach. However, with a bit of organisation, you should be able to create your first dance routine.
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Let us help you!
Firstly, unlike what you may think, creating dance routines isn’t just for experts. You can start quite early on trying to create your own.
It’s a good way to get the most out of your dancing and it’s a lot of fun, don’t you think?
Here are the steps to creating your routines:
- Choose your style: this is easy if you only know the one. Don’t start trying a flamenco or disco routine if you’ve never danced either style. The goal is to learn but through making use of your knowledge of the style.
- Choose your music: dancing is nothing without music. Don’t choose a song just because it’s popular. Choose music that makes you want to dance; music that speaks to you. The music is the foundation of your routine.
- Analyse the music: you’re going to need to be familiar with every part of the music you choose. Analyse the structure of the song: the intro, the verse, the chorus, the bridge, etc.
- Improvise: dancing isn’t just exercise, it’s also art. Improvisation can also inspire you. After all, sometimes it’s difficult to remember exactly every step so let yourself improvise and film yourself and you may come up with something you’d like to keep.
- Put all the parts together: like a puzzle, you’ll want to start by putting together the parts of your routine. There may be gaps, but that’s not a problem. Fine-tune the parts that you’ve already got.
- Work on your transitions: this is where you get to fill in the gaps. Watch your footage again and see if there are parts you can use to bring the different steps together. If this doesn’t work, film yourself again and try a bit more improvisation. You’ll end up finding something.
You need to pay particular care to the start and end of a routine as these are the parts that will draw your audience in and leave a lasting impression. Don’t try to fill the whole thing with technical moves at any given opportunity as you’ll want to include calmer parts between the more dynamic sections. Use the space you have, especially if you’ll be doing it on a stage.
So are you ready to learn some new routines?
If you're looking for dance classes, consider getting in touch with one of the tutors on Superprof for private lessons. Private dance lessons are great if you want to learn to dance but don't live near a dance studio or can't find classes on offer for the dance styles you'd like to learn.
Whether you want to learn how to ballroom dance, swing dance, or even get dance instruction for your wedding dance, a dance lesson with a private dance instructor will soon have you confident on the dance floor.
Make the most of the tutors who offer free tuition for the first hour to see whether or not you get along!