Forum: Irish / Irish

How do you remember choreography?
By TuniePremium member
On Sun Aug 10, 2014 10:58 PM

How do you remember (or teachers, help your students to remember) choreography? For solos it's easy to have them write down the steps, but what about for ceilis and figures? My students are struggling A LOT with remembering their dances, I could really use some ideas to help them out.

5 Replies to How do you remember choreography?

re: How do you remember choreography?
By saoirse3473member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Aug 11, 2014 01:15 AM
For cdili, I've always broken it up into sections (sort of like the way it's written down in books for TCRG exams). That way, once I practice enough, remembering the actual steps for each section is second nature (to the point where I don't actually even remember them, I just do it), so that all I need to think about is what section is coming up next. Does that make sense? lol :D
re: How do you remember choreography?
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Aug 11, 2014 02:35 AM
I'm not teaching ceili to kids just yet, but for my adult class, I often post a YouTube clip on our Facebook page after class so they can see what we did. I teach it movement by movement and give them the movement name as a prompter while we're dancing it. Sometimes if the movement name isn't very illuminative I'll call out another type of reminder - so for example in the four hand reel the Square tells you everything you need to know but four sevens kinda doesn't, so I'll call out "quick change with your partner" as well to remind people what to do. Then they go away and watch the video and can pick out each movement by name which helps memorise them.

I've only ever been in one mini-figure but we approached it like a ceili and gave each little section a name. That way it feels like you don't have to remember a whole dance, you just remember a series of sections which seems easier to digest.
re: How do you remember choreography?
By seannettaPremium member
On Mon Aug 11, 2014 08:45 AM
Yep, me too, giving each section a meaningful name is essential. For kids, I always give it a silly or otherwise memorable name -- better yet if they name it themselves. Advancing and retiring in a circle, for example, to them was like a "squishy circle," so that's what the section became known as.

For more experienced dancers who know movements like "lead round", I just repeat the names of the movements as much as possible. But the more young/inexperienced the dancer, the more I find it essential to come up with a name that sparks something in their heads.

Then I also work on transitions a lot -- doing the final 4 bars of one movement and the first 4 bars of the next, for example, so they get used to transitioning from one thing to another. We repeat these transitions over and over, then do the whole thing. I try to yell out the next movement with as much advanced notice as possible, so that they learn how to prepare their heads (and therefore feet) for what comes next.
re: How do you remember choreography?
By califeisgirl
On Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:56 PM
I find writing ceili dances is much easier than writing solo steps! We actually have kids write ceilis down all the time. Figures are taped and kids are expected to watch and practice them at home. But writing them down wouldn’t be hard at all.

Honestly I have trouble understanding not remembering dances. We learn dances in chunks, by movement. Each movement is introduced by name: “Lead around, slip sides, half right and left, star, etc.” A few of the dances have devices: Cross reel for example is “EFG and Back to E” (Extended sides, full chain, gents interlace, back to back and exchange places) and the kids learn to recite them. Once you learn about three to four movements, you stop, do a quick verbal review and have them dance it to music, calling out the steps the first few times. After awhile you stop calling it out. If anyone forgets you stop and go back.

I think it is easy for dancers to rely on the teacher calling out the steps and therefore, slack on not remembering the steps, so I always go with a trial by fire approach. No one is allowed to tell me they forgot the dance. They have to try their best and then we go back and fix problem areas.

I will tell them if I think they are being lazy or slacking i.e. “It is unacceptable that you don’t have this memorized by now.” Obviously if it is a dance they haven’t done in awhile, or a random brain fart, that’s one thing. But to be dancing a dance constantly in class and still not having it memorized, that just shows laziness.

Most of our younger beginner kids have the dances down in a month, dancing them once a week for an hour, not perfect, but memorized so we can move beyond learning the dance and on to perfecting it. The older/ more experienced dancers often learn routines a day before a show and usually take a weekend to memorize figure choreographies.
re: How do you remember choreography?
By fouleafmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Aug 18, 2014 07:46 PM
Edited by fouleaf (86206) on 2014-08-18 19:48:07
It depends on which part they are having trouble with. As a dancer, I've found that different methods help me with particular issues.

If it's timing, then a lilt/song is the most effective thing for me. "Hold on one, move and move and move and hold..."

The most difficult thing for me is the connecting pieces, especially in a Ceili. I am very good with patterns and parts of the dance in isolation, like Up the Aisle or Chain, but stringing them together in the right order is the difficult thing. For that, doing two or three parts at a time is best. That way, I learn to go fluidly from one to the other. Like for 4H reel, lead around, box, and 7s as a drill and then making 7's the first part of the next set for drilling. Then, running through all the parts of the dance as a unit. That way, you string the parts together. Otherwise, I remember the chunks but forget how to combine them properly.

I hope that helps.

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