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The Dance Intensive: Soaking It All In

“Practice like crazy, use mnemonics, connect it to something you know.” The people who give that kind of advice often forget how much of memory lies in the preparation for an event, not the event itself. After all, can an exhausted, hungry and distracted brain remember very much?

For a taxing event like a dance intensive, mental memory techniques are only half the story. First, what can be done to ready our mind and body to soak it all in – before the event?

Build up the intensity.

A mind struggling to remember what it learned from previous classes is not well-equipped to remember what’s happening right now. Get up to speed on your technique by putting in extra practice time in the months and weeks leading up to the intensive.

Bring water and light snacks.

Fuelling your body is a simple way to maintain your focus, so you can take more in. My personal favourite snack is trail mix with lots of nuts and raisins.

Check your ego at the door.

Going to an intensive expecting to be the best dancer there is missing the point. Go expecting to be COMPLETELY gobsmacked by the amount of new information. That ‘beginner’s mindset’ will keep you ready to absorb everything you hear.

The next few tips have less to do with mental memory techniques than they do with getting your mind out of the way altogether. Because you can’t learn and analyze what you’ve learned at the same time.

If something doesn’t work, leave it.

Like a certain fairy tale princess, experienced dancers have learned the importance of letting go. Don’t let the one technique you can’t figure out distract you from the 5 or 6 others you can.

Focus on listening, not asking questions.

Not everyone will agree about this, but if everyone asked questions, how much time would the instructor have to teach? Take in everything you can, and assume the questions you have will be answered later in the lesson. Hey, this isn’t the coaches’ first rodeo – they know EXACTLY where you’re likely to get confused.

Process the information on the break.

Again, if you’re trying figure out the details of the technique the instructor just gave you, that means you’re thinking – not listening. Take quick notes between classes, so you know to come back and process it later.

Speaking of listening rather than ignoring your dance coach, what are some common rules of etiquette we can follow to show them and our peers respect? See you next week!


About the Author

Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for over 18 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.

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