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Thread: Workshops???




  1. #1
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    Workshops???

    I've got to ask everyone about workshops.

    Why is it that some dancers/students pick up choreography so quickly while others have such a difficult time with it?

    I'm one of those who has a hard time remembering what comes next that the rest of my posture suffers. IE hands look bad, hip work comes slowly, feet are often not in the right place to take the next step.

    How do I work at getting better at workshops?

    Thanks,

    Azeeza


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    I actually noticed that most of the people who pick up choereo quickly are people who have LOTS of prior dance experiemce. I'm pretty bad at picking up choreo myself. I find that it's easier when people do combinations and then string them together into a choreography. I try to go over the choreo in my head over and over again while I'm learning the choreo...


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    I think some people have the kind of memory that works for remembering choreo and some don't. I do not. I hate choreography based workshops and won't take them unless I really like the teacher and then, I focus on something specific they are teaching rather than trying to memorize an entire choreography.

    There are several teachers whose choreos I love and if I can study with them more than 2 hours then it's nice to learn - but 2 hours? forget it!

    People who have studied dance a lot from the time they were kids - no matter whether it's BD or not - probably have a way easier time than those of us who never danced before learning BD as adults.


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    I think some people have the kind of memory that works for remembering choreo and some don't. I do not. I hate choreography based workshops and won't take them unless I really like the teacher and then, I focus on something specific they are teaching rather than trying to memorize an entire choreography.

    There are several teachers whose choreos I love and if I can study with them more than 2 hours then it's nice to learn - but 2 hours? forget it!

    People who have studied dance a lot from the time they were kids - no matter whether it's BD or not - probably have a way easier time than those of us who never danced before learning BD as adults.
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    I think picking up choreographies gets easier over time. As you keep learning choreographies you pick up skills that make learning & retaining the next one easier.

    Having said that, I generally don't bother to try to memorise the whole choreography from a one-off workshop. I just try to remember a few combinations and the overall concept that the choro is designed to teach. Then I modify the combos to my own style and apply the concepts to my dance.

    And I much prefer a technique workshop!!!

    jilyan

    edited cos sometimes i'm a grammar stickler ... sometimes


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    It always seems like my dance buddies who took a lot of jazz, tap or other kinds of dance since childhood can remember choreography really well. I am horrible horrible horrible.


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    Younger people seem to be very good at it, as well. I had a student-turned-fellow-teacher who learned choreographies like a prodigy, but she was only 19 at the time. Our teens learn choreographies pretty well. If you've got strong dance ability, being able to remember dances easily seems to go hand-in-hand when you are young.


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    Definitely people who have done a lot of general dance classes seem to pick up choreo quicker.

    Also, it is much easier to pick it up if you are already very familiar with the music...one reason why I'm always delighted to know what music is being used prior to a workshop.


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    Knowing the music beforehand does really help! Otherwise it's overload--accent, rhythm, choreography, mood, arms, which way to turn. Not to mention a room full of people watching!


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    I tend to pick up choreos easily and I had no previous dance experience. If they go with the music that is . . . . . .of coruse a random serious of moves is going to be hard to learn (and I've had a teacher or so with chroes were like this) but if they references the music then your ears tell you what to do!


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    what helped me is taking a summer intensive in ... jazz dance... no kidding. it taught me how to pick up step combo's fast. i already had a pretty good memory for it, but that really helped.

    other things : i tell my students to think of it as responses to music, and try to remember steps that way, rather than as a series of steps. like this music phrase is connected with this and this step, rather then after step A comes step B folowed my combo C. the better the choreo is made, the better this works ofcourse. it also helps when you try to understand how the choreo is build, rather than a series of moves. also when i'm trying to remember it, i dont think step step step, but i connect the music with the steps. does that make sense?

    the other thing is, practice does help, i was awfull the first times i took workshops that were choreo's, cause we never did choreo with my instructor, so that was all new, but, it does get better!


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    I think the more you do choreography the easier it is to learn choreography. That's why people who take other dance forms (especially choreography-based dance forms) learn choreography better. If you want to be able to pick choreography more quickly, I would suggest making a definite effort to learn more choreographed routines -- for both belly dance and other types of dance. Also, doing your own choreography also helps.


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    I take a different approach to learning a choreography and it always works for me. Thinking about moves and combinations in geometrical way, drawing shapes on the floor during traveling steps. I noticed that men are a lot better at learning choreographies for the same reason, they don't think of the moves but of the shapes.


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    I agree that it's all a matter of training your brain, plus there are all sorts of tricks as mentioned here - memorizing that this step goes with this music, realizing that things are repeating themselves in sequences, memorizing things in chunks rather than as individual steps (this really works for me.) I also take a hiphop class that is all choreography, and I think that was good for putting the pathways into my brain.

    I used to be terrible at learning & remembering choreography but it is getting easier & easier for me! One of my teachers actually said she thought I was good at learning it. I think people who decide that they are "bad at choreography" are doing themselves a disservice, just like saying you're bad at math. Like anything else in this world, it takes effort to learn how to do something well. Sure, some things come easy - but others don't - and if you just give up before you've begun, you're selling yourself short.

    I love the way Amar Gamal teaches the technique/combos first and then the choreography. It really makes it easier to follow.

    But I don't think most people go home from a workshop remembering the whole choreography. For me, what I get out of it is combinations that work with certain types of music, and an idea of how to put a dance together. I don't normally choreograph my own dancing, but it does help me plan out the broad strokes of my improvisation.

    As I was reading this thread, it made me realize once again - people think dancing is all physical, but it actually takes a lot of brains!


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    I guess part of the problem is that I don't really like choreography, so I don't WANT to learn itl


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    I do pick up choreos pretty easily, but like others have said, it's probably because of my western dance background. However, I don't perform other people's full choreographies. So in a workshop, it's never my intent to bring the whole thing back with me. I try to focus on finding one or two combinations that really resonate with me, and seeing how the instructors structure their choreos and interpret the music. Basically, I use their choreos as a tool for making my own choreographies better, if that makes any sense.


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    I agree with what's being said here. I think people who learned choreo when they were young have burned a neural pathway for that kind of learning and it will always be easier for them.

    It's harder to burn those pathways as we get older, literally. But it can be done.

    When I first started, I was humiliatingly bad at learning choreos, lucky if I didn't trip over other people at workshops or put someone's eye out with a finger. Now I'm only sort of average-bad. I can tell a huge improvement!

    Part of it, too, is that things seem more familiar after you've done a lot of choreos. In my early days, I was learning a new move, or a LOT about the posture/arms/whatever that went with that move, and putting the new moves together into totally new combos.

    Now, most of the moves are familiar, and maybe only one new piece of info about a move comes out of a workshop, some of the combos are similar to ones I've already done. I have a frame of reference for what's going on. "Oh, this is kind of like what we did with Nourhan last year..."


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    Interesting! I wonder if it's one of those right-brained versus left-brained things...are people who are good at math better at choreography (which involves sequencing in addition to geometric analysis)?


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    I am not BAD at math, but it's not fun for me! The idea about thinking of geometric patterns wouldn't work for me because that's not how my brain works. I've heard that it works really well for others.


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    That is interesting! I attribute my ability (while it might not be super) to remember choereos to being analytical. I tend to do them with a lot of repetition, just like you would do a lot of repetition with math. I have a lot of experience doing many problems over and over again, so perhaps that has to do with the way I learn best? I never had dance when I was younger, so it takes awhile for me to learn them, however once I do, I tend to retain them decently.


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    I find I remember my own choreography easier than I remember other's choreography. But that's because I would have done a different set of moves as opposed to what they chose. I'm not as stressed doing my own because it makes sense to me. Keeping that in mind, I realize that my choreographies may not make sense to students in my class. So I stress relaxing and having fun and making the moves/hand positions as natural as possible for them.

    Also, know that if you did a wrong move, chances are there were others in the class doing the the wrong move too.


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    Same for me -- I don't think I get a lot from a choreography-based workshop. The way I approach this dance is as a way to express my own ideas, so why would I want to perform someone else's choreography? Even if I could remember it, which I rarely can! I'd rather learn technique or short combinations any day.


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    I actually really enjoy learning choreography, but I often feel that a workshop teacher has more to offer than a long string of steps. I'd rather learn combinations from Fahtiem, Indian fusion techniques from Meera, the "feel" of 9/8 from Artemis, styling from Tamallyn Dallal, performance polishing from Amaya... these are things I can use in the future, rather than a quick choreography that I might never use again.


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    My older dance buddies tell me it's youth that helps one remember choreos, though I think the most obvious help is previous dance experience... apparently jazz is the one that drills step memory into you (?).

    I love learning choreography because I am a mimic and have very good spacial awareness so I can watch the instructor from anywhere and translate what they are doing onto my own body. It's a neat trick and helpful in choreography classes but as a whole I don't think that ability adds a any particular depth or feeling to my dance. Once in an Aida workshop she called me "the computer" for my choreo memory (we learnt 12 in 7 days), but in a dance form that is more about emotion and expression I don't know if that is something you want to be remembered for.

    An advantage is that you don't have to spend a choreo class trying to remember the dance, you can concentrate on the technique within it. Once I tried a different tactic and wrote the choreo down through the class, section by section as I learnt it but that must of mucked my memory process because that didn't work at all, come to the end of the class I couldn't dance through the choreo and had a poor grasp of the technique learnt.

    The more I think what I'm doing the less I remember, so I'll just zone out and let my body do its thing. Also I prefer to video myself dancing it asap, preferably straight after the class, that way I am still automatically including the instructor's nuances in my repetition. And the instructor's particular interpretation, expression and technique peculiarities are the real gold. Watching an instructor work through a choreo you pick up a Lot more than they are actually teaching.


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    I don't think it's true about youth -- in my first beginner classes I was always the youngest, and usually one of the last to remember the choreography!


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    I'm not convinced either but I've heard it often enough... "you can pick it up quicker because your younger, when you get to My age then the memory starts slipping"

    shrugs

    Years later and I'm now approaching That age and my memory serves me just fine, if anything its getting better due to what Lauren pointed out, familiarity with the material.


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    This is sooooo true. I usually try to learn the choreo only enough so I'm not in everyone's way while we're doing it! My focus at a choreo workshop is still technique.

    How does this teacher interpret the music? What can he/she teach me about technique? What does it feel like to move in this teacher's way vs. other teachers I've had? Are there any completely new steps/movements/combos for me to learn here? Any new ways to do the old moves?

    Even at a choreo workshop, I'm there for technnique & movement vocabulary.


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    Totally. I remember a particular Aida Nour workshop she kept changing the "choreography" nearly every time she went through it.

    She was actually just making it up as she went along and watching her construct a choreo On The Spot was a huge eye opener in my understanding of Egyptian dance. Altering a bit here. Changing a piece there. A new combo. Three fast hips instead of one slow. It was awesome!

    And of course there were the constant grumbles of "she keeps on changing the choreo, how are we meant to learnt the dance when she won't keep doing the same thing"...

    OMG! your missing the Whole Point of taking from a master Egyptian teacher.

    throws hands up and wanders off shaking head


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    You say it sooo right, thank you for writing it clearly.
    I have been thinking a lot why I cannot write choreo but it is not my head that learns it in a workshop it is my body. And my body knows what comes next for some time, about one day, but the it starts to
    be ruined and not to look like what we actually learned.

    I think I more into workshops to teach my body to dance
    than what I am to learn the choreo exactly. Aida is one of my big favourites because she really changes and I do learn a lot.
    Lubna makes it hard because she has a more structured way of teaching
    (lefts and rights in certain order) but there are moments when
    she is also changing - she just waits that we can do it basically first without her. Sometimes we never get that far because
    the level of the class.


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    I'm not sure I agree with this. I attended a workshop recently where the teacher had not prepared, and was making it up on the fly. The technique wasn't really covered, and the workshop was all about body movements from A to B, spin here, spin there etc. As you might expect with choreography creation, we only covered the intro to the song during the whole class. The intro was in a different style to the rest of the piece, and it was that style that we'd signed up to learn. Dancers were confused, (is it two hip drops/spins or three, is this X style? it doesn't feel like it).

    I must say though, I could forgive Aida anything, and since I've "got inside" her technique (i.e. I'm familiar with how she does things). I would probably have enjoyed seeing her create something on the fly.


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