Feb 20, 2014

Dance: 7 styles of learning

AURAL (Auditory-Musical)

Prefer: Sound and music

What to use: Create rhymes when memorizing
                    Sounds recording (as background to help you visualize)
                    Anchor your emotions with a song that touches you

Personal advice: 
Todos los ritmos árabes, Vol-1
- Prior dancing to a new song (whether improvising or choreographing), sit down, shut down all distractions and carefully listen to the music. Identify the rhythms and if possible, follow them with your claps and mouth.

- Buy a CD with plain rhythms (such as the instructional CDs from Osvaldo Brandan, Argentina, which are available in Amazon or Ebay), and play while driving, cooking, etc. This will help you get familiarized with how a particular rhythm goes, and when dancing to it, you will feel more comfortable since your brain already recognizes it.

 - Make your students listen to the song you are introducing them to in class (if they are performing to it, make sure the song is available to them so they can get familiarized with it by listening constantly prior performance).

VISUAL (Spatial)

Prefer: Pictures, images, understanding space

What to use: Visual media (pictures and images)
                    Colors (to highlight major and minor points)
                    Mind maps (spatial organization) 

                    Layouts (spatial organization)
                    Replace words with pictures

Personal advice: 
- When choreographing, it may help to draw out the foot pattern you follow on stage. 
- Before performing/competing, take a moment to close your eyes, breath deeply, and visualize your choreography in mind. Do so repeatedly, and it will help improve your confidence on stage.

VERBAL (Linguistic)

Prefer: Words (in speech and/or writing)

What to use: Practice scripting and more writing
                    When reading out loud, play with the tones of your voice
                    Role-play with someone to learn verbal exchanges (i.e. negotiations, sales)

Personal advice:

- When preparing a class, I write down the main points I want to teach (i.e. Pops and Locks, Traveling shimmy, Figure eights), and a line or two extra if I want to remember something in particular (i.e. Practice slow and fast, add arms at different positions, etc).
- When teaching rhythms to students, it may help writing down the sounds of the rhythms as for example with baladi: Dum Dum Taca Tak Dum Taca Tak Taca.

PHYSICAL (Kinesthetic)

Prefer: Sense of touch (body, hands)

What to use: Focus on the sensations on each scenario
                    Describe the physical feeling of your actions
                    Use as many physical objects as possible
                    Writing and drawing are considered physical activities
                    Practice skills and behaviors with a partner

Personal advice:
- Before performing, sit down, relax, and rather than focusing much on remembering the choreography as it is, try focusing on how it makes you feel. For example, what sensation do you feel in your arms when doing that turn? Does that Baladi gives you stomach butterflies? Remembering these feelings will help you go through with your performance with much ease.

- Record yourself rehearsing and point out a particular combo, step or expression you will like to work on/eliminate. Focus on remembering what was the physical feeling you had while doing so. Next time you start getting that feeling while dancing, you will remember easier what you need to work on/correct.

LOGICAL (Mathematical)

Prefer: Systems, logic, reasoning.

What to use: Extract key points and make a list
                    Do associations when learning
                    Think about the system to learn the bigger picture
                    Understand reason behind content and skills

Personal advice:
- When choreographing, I like making my combos easy to follow for my body by inertia. For example, I am doing a hip drop with my right hip (weight on the left), and then cross my right foot to complete a turn to my left. In other words, work on doing a dance sequence that is logic for your body - that way you will avoid getting "blanks" and forgetting what comes next.

- When teaching a step, always break it down so the student can understand how that particular move is built up. This will help them perform better!


Prefer: Learning in groups

What to use: Share your key assertions with your group members
                    In group, practice behaviors to learn how to deal with variation
                    Share association and visualization techniques

Personal advice:
- When teaching, you can make different groups (2-3 students each), give them a piece of a song, and ask them to work together to choreograph to it in 15-20 minutes. This will help them put in practice what they are learning and the experience will feed their own development.

- Ask your students to share how they feel with a particular move/song/choreography/lesson. What is more challenging? And what feels more comfortable? This will most likely broaden the perspective the other dancers have, and nurture their own views/feelings on the piece.


Prefer: Self-study, work alone.

What to use: Find a personal interest in your topics
                    Align your goals and objectives with your values (be coherent)
                    Self-confidence (you drive yourself by the way you see yourself internally)
                    Positive thinking (your thoughts have a large influence on your performance)

Personal advice:

- Remember Albert Einstein's quote "Genius is 1% talent and 99% hard work". Practice, practice, and practice. This will be of great help to increase your confidence about your skills and performance.
- Record one "good" rehearsal and keep it. Whenever you start feeling dubious of your work or anxious, look at it and remember it may all be in your head. Just keep practicing. "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle

- CONNECT to the song. If you get to choose it, choose one that touches you deeply. When I close my eyes listening to a new song just to enjoy it, I know it is reaching to me at a deeper level. If you do not get to choose it (as a student or teacher), find a connection to the song. Bring out memories, look for associations, listen to it with an open mind.
Miami Belly Dance Convention 2012

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