July 2017 | Ask Rhee Gold | Retaining Recital Choreography

Advice for dance teachers | Retaining Recital Choreography

Q: Dear Rhee,

What are your strategies to help students retain recital choreography? This year was especially hard, which resulted in a lot of stress for my students and me. I know I must be missing some tricks of the trade. Any expertise is appreciated. —Mikala

A: Hi Mikala,

As a matter of fact, I do have some suggestions. First, within your regular fall classes, teach a series of short combinations without any formations or patterns, just the movement. Keep a log of the combos that you covered with notes on which movement the kids handled well and which they didn’t. Incorporate the movement they handled well into your choreography. Kids are more likely to retain movement that’s already in their muscle memory.

Also, teach choreography as you and your students face the studio’s back wall. While your mirrors are an essential tool for class, they are not so good for students who rely on their classmates’ reflection to figure out what’s coming next in the routine. By facing the back wall, students are more likely to retain steps because they are unable to see their classmates’ reflections and must think for themselves.

I’ve learned that boredom can prevent students from retaining choreography. Kids may get bored when we use the same music from week to week. Know that it is OK to change the music. Find music with a similar beat and timing to teach new choreography; at the end of class, add the new choreography to the original music. Good luck and I hope all of your kids know their routines next season. —Rhee