General Dance Discussion > How much of choreography is memorization versus skill?

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by Backstreet, Mar 6, 2006.

  1. Backstreet

    Backstreet New Member

    This is more of a question for discussion rather then something seeking a direct answer. Anyways, how much of choreography taught in a class (You'll find lots of it in hip-hop classes usually) do you think is memorization rather then skill?

    This kind of lends itself back to something I had noticed a while back. I had a friend who was extremely good at freestyling in hip-hop. He could pop crazy moves out of his body and do amazing things. However, when he was put to do choreography, he simply couldn't memorize the movements (especially if the class started moving quickly) and he wouldn't be able to do it.

    Thus, if we were to compare the above person with someone who was mediocre at dancing but able to pickup choreography they would appear to be better. (Up for discussion too)

    Ultimately, I am curious where you consider yourself. Do you feel you are better at choreography or freestyling? Or do you fall somewhere inbetween?

    Personally, I feel I am better at freestyle hip-hop then I am at choreography. Sometimes I have the tendancy to take a simple movement and make it more difficult in my head. I also have a bad habit of watching the teacher :)

    If you find you can pickup choreography easy, do you feel you don't have trouble memorizing things? As an illustration, if I put you in a room with ten people and they each gave you their name once would you remember it? If I gave you a script with a few lines would you have trouble memorizing it? Ever played that game Simon (Where you press the color according to what the voice says), if so, were you ever any good at it?

    Also, if you find choreography easy in your field of dance (Ballet, Salsa, etc) do you think you would have trouble picking up choreography in a different area? (An area where you were unfamiliar with the moves)

    NOTE: When I say picking up choreography, I am talking about being able to recite what you just saw. The faster the better. (Technique not necessarily counting)

    This was a discussion I was having earlier today.

    Edit: I also want to note that I am talking about choreography taught and performed generally in one class. In other words, this isn't something you can write down and practice for next week. It is something I might teach once in an hour time frame and then have you perform it in the last 15 minutes.
  2. saludas

    saludas New Member

    The ability to understand and reproduce choreography is dependent on the dancer's knowlege of technique - simply, the more advanced the dancer,teheeasier to quickly reproduce and 'make it look good' choreography.

    Your 'comfort zone' gets bigger the more experienced you are. Getting tekan out of it (being given choreography rather than simply letting you do 'what you know' or what you want to do') is always difficult, but much more so when you know little - after all, with less experience, every movement you are given is hard to grasp combinations of patterns and shapes and timings.

    Slightly off topic, but IMHO the reason many folks stop lessoning or don't take them at all is the feeling that they get when being shown new movement or correcting their movement in the first place - they are being put into a place that 'feels bad' and they rationalize that 'doing what they do' feels better so why try to 'change it'...

    In the ballroom world, Open level dancers are expected to be shown and reproduce choreography at once, or very quickly. the bronze student, for instance, may take a few years to feel they can easily dance 90 seconds of waltz, and this at a very basic level; the open dancer, by contrast, may be expected to do entire routines at high level within months. This is due to the combined effects of experience, knowledge, and repetition.

    The SKILL of making choreography look like 'your own' (the knowledge of the technique so you can apply it to your learning process) is also a learned, studied and taught ability. the ability to remember the choreography also improves with time and understanding.
  3. Twilight_Elena

    Twilight_Elena Well-Known Member

    I agree with saludas. Learning choreography gets easier with time and experience, but considering you have to be technically better each time we could say it gets harder. I hope that makes sense.

    Twilight Elena
  4. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I think what it is, is that once one has developed a good understanding of overarching technical principles, one doesnt have to work as long on new steps b/c they know that "X" step is taken on a curving trajectory and "Y" must be done with swing...and they no longer need to be reminded that this is the case when a particular concept is least not as merely need to be cognizant of a new pattern....
  5. latingal

    latingal Well-Known Member

    I agree with the other posters about being comfortable with a dance styles' technique. However that said, even when I am very comfortable with a style, it still takes me two or three times of doing the choreography physically before I remember everything. I think some people "get" choreography mentally, I happen to "get" it better physically through body memory...

    On the issue of freestyling vs. choreography: movement always looks better on me at first (!) when I'm freestyling - that's because when I move freely, the movement is stuff that is natural and comfortable for me. However, doing other's choreography widens my knowledge of movement and line and is invaluable in expanding my own vocabulary in that style of dance.

    And on your point about memorization: my body memorizes movement fairly well, but I can't say that I am any better at mental memorization then anybody else.

    And lastly, regarding if I pick up choreography quickly in other styles of dance, I'd say that is true....I just might not look very good doing it! ;)
  6. numba1

    numba1 New Member

    yeah, this topic has come into my head a few times actually. i've actually had a battle to figure this out since it bugged me so much. (i thought i might as well have fun with it as well). I consider myself to be much better at freestyle rather than choreogrpahy. During classes, i can still get what the instructor is trying to do, it just takes me longer than others. I also find that after learning a dance, i am able to perform a LOT better the next day.

    Anyway, in the battle 'experiment', i had two types of competition. the first part was to learn a piece of choreography and perform it within 2 hours, i sadly lost this portion of the battle to my friend, however, the next part required us to freestyle for 2 songs. I won this part hands down.

    In coclusion, i found that yes, some people find either freestyle or choreo a lot easier than the other. however...NOTHING IS BEYOND BEING TAUGHT. i truly believe that if you really want something, you can get it. that's why i'm working extra hard on my choreo right now.
  7. SPratt74

    SPratt74 New Member

    That is an interesting question. I actually do better with choreography than anything else, but that's what I was taught when I was little. My ballet and jazz teacher only taught through choreography and when you are in community plays etc., you are taught through choreography. That's another reason why it's hard for me to have someone lead me though. I'm trying really hard to learn, but this is like very different than what I'm used to. The plus side is though is that once I learn how to follow, I've already got the other part mastered to where I don't have to worry about that at all!
  8. delamusica

    delamusica Active Member

    Well, I pick up choreography in latin very quickly - usually right away. But that's due to years of training in that style. I also feel very comfortable doing improv in latin (my partner and I used to improv open choreography, just for fun - so I'm not just talking about following). But I wasn't very good at either when I first started. :)

    I'm taking ballet right now for the first time, and it definitely takes me a few tries to get the steps down, even though our "choreographies" right now are just very short sequences of steps - 2-4 at a time. And I DEFINITELY wouldn't improv - I just don't have the vocabulary of movement yet.

    I suppose I'm a prime example that neither ability to improv or ability to learn choreography are beyond what can be taught. Because though I love both now, really when I started, I could hardly do either!
  9. dancersdreamland

    dancersdreamland New Member

    I tend to be much better with choreography than freestyle...but I don't think its a memory thing. I have a terrible memory when it comes to names, dates, etc...with dance it just happens naturally.
  10. RedNieA

    RedNieA New Member

    I'm more of a freestyler I guess. I am mostly self-taught anyway and I'm more of a club dancer or wherever hahaha. I'm more used to anything goes and just go with the music you know, just whatever comes out - I dont really think it just happens sorta.

    Once you put me in choreography, instead of just doing my moves, my head ends up working extra to remember the moves so I pause and the flow just aint there its... god I hate choreography.
  11. Swaze_Lo

    Swaze_Lo New Member

    I have been doing liturgical dancing for several years and great at following choreography. I've been wanting to learn other styles and techniques but im a bit afraid I might not be any good at it and Im not sure if I freestyle. Im a fast and visual learner and can pick up anything quick. Show me once (maybe twice) and Ill do it lol. I just want to know why I have so many great ideas or moves in my head but cant translate them to my body?!! ugh
  12. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi Backstreet! Only dinosaurs will judge him only by a single aspect of his dancing. All together: impro as well as choreo, technique, authenticity, musicality, and appeal count.

    I think impro and choreo do belong together and correleate: Freestyle isnĀ“t freestyle: your cerebellum (a part of your brain) only is juggling with ready-made elements.
  13. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    my guess would be because you have no organized language/recipe for how to duplicate it...might that be part of it?
  14. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Welcome to DF, Swaze! "Your body" is called cerebellum in this respect. And varying from person to person it takes up to six month until this part of your brain which is responsible for complex moving patterns has learned a move.​

  15. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    What is Liturgical dancing?
  16. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    Liturgical dancing is dancing during a Liturgy (worship service) tends to be fairly lyrical and with the idea of conveying a particular theological concept
    Bailamosdance likes this.
  17. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    AKA praise dance, in some circles. :)
    Bailamosdance likes this.

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