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Practice methods... with or without technology?

Thank goodness for technology in the dance world! Obviously, we wouldn’t be where we are without it, but sometimes parts of technology hinder the way students can learn and grow as dancers.

Mainly, I am talking about memorization. And specifically, I am talking about the all amazing video camera we have on all of our phones.

Recording a dance so a kid can have help practicing at home, is brilliant. But what happened to the skill of actually having to MEMORIZE what a teacher shows you?

Back in my day (ugh) we didnt record our dances. Ever. Not even during choreograpghy week. Gasp! We learned our dance, practiced on our own, and were expected to remember choreography and details just as much as the kids are now. I think it helped with picking up details right away, forced us to practice at home, and helped with memorization both inside and outside of dance.

Now kids don’t always feel the need to pick up details because they can watch the video at home. They aren’t worried about remembering a dance on the spot because they can watch the video at home. If their parents forget to record, it is now an excuse NOT to practice, because they didn’t have a video to watch at home. (I’ll admit it, that is my least favorite excuse for not practicing.)

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think recording choreography is a BAD thing. I just don’t believe its the only way our kids should be learning their dances. After a huge chuck of choreography, yes record the dance, but they can practice WITHOUT the video, as well. They can try practicing with just the music, or even without to try to go over details on their own. Let them work on memorizing! If a child can’t remember choreography, thats a good time to pop in the video for a refresher. Or watch and listen for details maybe AFTER they have already tried a few times on their own.

A dance does NOT need to be recorded every time a correction is made and fixed. A dance does NOT need to be recorded every week. A dancer does NOT need to rely on video as the only form of practice. They can use their brain, they can use their memory, and they CAN practice even without a video.

Video should also only happen with a teachers approval. Not every teacher allows it, and a class should never be interrupted by walking in to video without a teachers permission.

I think having video on our phone’s, cameras, tablets, etc, is amazing! Like I said before, being able to record a dance for help at home is brilliant! I just want to see a good balance of kids really focusing on memorizing choreography right away vs. using video to fill in gaps and provide reminders when needed.

Exploring different practice methods (music, no music, video, no video, teammates, on own, etc), is only going to help dancers grow more and more to their full potential! And it’s going to help them in the long run, and in the ‘real’ world too! :)

Ricki-Lyn Coppock

Dance Educator and Choreographer

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