Ballroom Dance > How long did it take to learn your first routine?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by lynn, Feb 16, 2006.

  1. lynn

    lynn New Member

    I was struggling through my foxtrot routine a while back and when i look back, it took me about 2 months to fully memorize all the steps. Granted, i took a couple of weeks off in the 2 months span and didn't practice in between classes, but it still seem awfully long. It just felt like by the time i nailed my routine, i've completely forgotten what the other dances are!

    Would it be a better idea to only spend 1/2 of the class on the routine and the other 1/2 on refreshing all the other "stuff"?

  2. Twilight_Elena

    Twilight_Elena Well-Known Member

    When doing choreographies in my studio, the student usually doesn't do anything but the choreography for some weeks. I think the key to keeping in touch with the other dances is socials. I wouldn't suggest taking classes/privates in other dances during that time because it will confuse you, technically, IMO. I would like to hear others talk about this.

    Twilight Elena
  3. lynn

    lynn New Member

    Perhaps it's the duration spent on choreography?? I spent a total of 8 weeks working on foxtrot alone and maybe 5 seconds of waltz - it really helped me focus on the problems i have with foxtrot but the drawback is by the end of the 8th week, i couldn't even remember what the natural turn in waltz is....*dies of embarrassment*!! Maybe the trick is to not spend such a long time working solely on 1 dance???
  4. Laura

    Laura New Member

    It gets better the more you dance and the more times you have to learn new stuff -- basically, you learn how to learn over time.

    Nowadays, I can get a new routine well enough to remember it all in about two lessons. But when I was a beginner, it was a lot more difficult and would take forever. Writing things down, and practicing on my own between lessons, made a huge difference and really sped things up.
  5. alemana

    alemana New Member

    also takes me forever. FOREVER. weeks and weeks and weeks.

    the key for me is not letting one routine languish, unpracticed, for more than a lesson or two.. now that i have 5 routines, i am sure to dance all of them every week, without fail, at one of my lessons.
  6. saludas

    saludas New Member

    First off, if you don't practice, and then take a few weeks off? then you should be properly amazed that you retained anything at all of your routine. And I really suspect that you have far from 'nailed' it - you MAY remember it in a general way, but you certainly are not dancing it yet...

    You'll need to devote time and energy to this or you will find that you will never progress. You need to work on it a lot so that your body can retain the movement. At the rate you are going, I suspect that after 2 months of this all you can do is 'step through' the 'routine'. If you had practiced and not taken the time off, then after 2 months you should be applying technique to the 'memorized steps' to make it look like dancing.

    Top competitors keep their routines and choreography FOR YEARS. They learn them over a period of time (days or weeks) and then spend the next year or so making it good. It takes less time as you do more dancing because the movement will eventually be made up of movemtns that you already 'know' (in other words, right now you are spending time and money learning basic movements, being corrected for posture and so on, that as a more advanced dancer will already be part of your 'package'). In the meantime, you get out of dancing exactly what you put into it, so put some time into practice (unless you expect your instructor to drag you through the comp) so that you hold up your part of the dance.

    Actually, it is YOUR job to 'refresh and remember' stuff.
  7. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    That's the truth! The first time I learned a routine, it took three months. :shock: And I wasn't slacking either -- we were taking extra lessons, I was going down the studio and doing extra practice during lunch, etc. I thought I was never going to learn that stupid thing. It was highly embarassing.

    The second time I learned a routine, I learned it in a week with about 6 hours of practice.
  8. redhead

    redhead New Member

    The "idea" of choreography - yes they keep it, but most routines I see do change a little bit over time (if you are attentive it's noticable). So I'd say their routines are dynamic, with adding and taking out little pieces at a time.
  9. lynn

    lynn New Member

    O.K., nailing it was a poor choice of words, but my question is more on a general level. Unfortunately, as much as i love to practice during the said weeks, a lot of personal issues had come up which prevented me from doing so. Yes, i understand there is a lot of commitment involved and no, i'm not looking for an easy way out but simply getting some tips from those who has "been there, done that" and maybe had ran into similar problems before.
  10. redhead

    redhead New Member

    lynn - don't you write it down rigth away?
  11. lynn

    lynn New Member

    I have the step list, but remembering the steps isn't the hard part, trying to dance it was. I spent the first few weeks stumbling through the steps, trying to connect one figure to the next, by the time i'm pretty familiar with routine, voila, it was the end of the 8th week :shock:.....
  12. redhead

    redhead New Member

    I don't think 8 weeks is that bad if your new routine uses steps you're not familiar with... not bad at all.
  13. Medira

    Medira New Member

    Okay, saludas, retract the claws kitten. The nasty, condescending tone of voice really isn't necessary in a post that's simply asking for information. Is it really so difficult to be nice?

    I think it's generally understood that practice is necessary to retain information and generally "get it", not to mention a lot more time in order to be able to do things with peroper technique and such, but sometimes life gets in the way. The question was how long it took people to learn their first choreographed routine and if it's worth just focusing on one dance, as opposed to working on the others as well...not how long it takes pros and high-level ams to learn, practice and perfect their competition routines.

    In answer to the question in the OP, I learned my first choreographed routine and performed it three days later. During that time, I also worked on the other dances and took group classes. In addition, I practiced outside of the studio when I could afford the time. The thing about that though, is the fact I've been dancing chorographed routines since I was two years old, so learning choreography comes easily to me. Like Laura said above, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
  14. Keelzorz

    Keelzorz New Member

    Medira, I agree with that entire post!

    My first choreography was almost exactly the same - it was an open foxtrot showpiece that we learned Tuesday for a show Saturday. It wasn't exactly a full routine, but a fancy Fred & Ginger style opener and three amalgamation chunks. It took an hour lesson to learn the pieces, and we put in more than five hours during the week to firm up the connection and the stylings. It wasn't perfect when we were done, but it was for a ballroom performance at our college's International Dinner, so we didn't have judges breathing down our necks. We ended up performing to Van Morrison's "Moondance", because the choreography was very playful and fun.

    I was never able to record it on paper, but we do have video recordings of our practices. They served both to help us fix what was wrong, and also to remember the steps later. I know someone suggested that in a previous thread - have your instructor and their partner perform the routine and tape it, so you have multi-media guidance later on to study off of.

    Lynn, what kind of routine are you working on(competition, show)? Is there still any significant lead/follow in it? Just curious - I feel like that would make a difference for the kind of stories and experience you're looking for.
  15. lynn

    lynn New Member

    Actually, the routine i'm working on is for the medals test, i could use it for competition, but so far, comps are not exactly in my agenda at the moment. I'm not sure about the lead/follow bit though - i'm sure it's necessary but at such an early stage maybe we're just trying to "get through" the whole thing?

    Dancing is unfortunately a completely foreign to me, whereas Medira has been exposed to comps/shows from an early age, i turn into a nervous wreck even when we're rehearsing (yes, i know i need to get over it) - now i'm a little worried i might have a heart attach in the middle of my exam :? .....
  16. Keelzorz

    Keelzorz New Member

    Dancing was completely foreign to me when I started, but medal tests? They're still completely foreign. All I've heard are stories and rumors...

    But good luck with it, Lynn! I havent heard of any ballroom-related heart attacks lately (that would wreck the good publicity ballroom's getting now!). Closest I could possibly think might happen would be some old man having a heart attack after watching a latin routine done with the lady in a skimpy costume....but never the competitor! Good luck with it!
  17. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Aren't medals tests syllabus materials? It might help to review each element, so that if your teacher says "double reverse spin" or "open telemark" you can just crank one out. That way, learning a new routine becomes a matter of stringing together patterns you already know, rather than having to remember it as a series of individual steps around the room. That is what has helped me learn new choreography quickly -- knowing a whole bunch of component parts well enough so I'm not remembering them, but rather remembering the order I dance them in.
  18. And just remember. The minute you learn the routine or master part of it, be sure that your instructor or coach will change it.
  19. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    okay, Im going to give a shot at this...and my anwswer is based only on my own availability to take lessons and practice...and we all have different capactities for both of those, and different goals....

    laura made the most cogent points thusfar, IMO...that takes longer when you are newer....

    the first 8 routines I learned, I was obssessed with "nailing the footwork" and not at all focused on technique...I felt I couldn't possibly execute any technique until I got the footwork ...and b/c I am an obsseessive compulsive type....I practiced several times a day everyday til I got them....I was introduced to them 4 at a time so I always practiced them evenly...I also taped them and watched them as well as wrote them down myself in my own language which always helps me retain them....

    now I dont worry about learning the pattern much at all ...I focus on keeping my posture and following my lead....and knowing it by heart will come ....
  20. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member


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