One of the most frequently asked questions I get - particularly on instagram - is what are my best tips for remembering choreography. As a dancer, picking up and remembering choreography quickly will give you a huge advantage in ballet exams, at auditions, when rehearsing for performances and just generally in class when you’re learning the syllabus or new variations. When I was younger, this is something I found pretty challenging, but over the years I’ve learnt a couple of things that really help me, so I wanted to share my top 4 tips to help remember choreography.
I know that this can be tricky, especially if you’ve had a big day at school or at work and your mind will naturally start to wonder, but try and stay as present and focused as you can on what you’re learning in the studio. If your mind is preoccupied and full of other thoughts, there’s no room for it to store the information you’re currently learning! Like anything, this is a skill that can take some practice, so try to block out the outside noise and focus on what’s happening in the present moment.
This is something many professional dancers in ballet companies do to help them get into ‘the zone’ particularly before a big audition or performance. It will also help you prepare for big moments in everyday life even if they happen outside the ballet studio, like for a job interview, end of term exams or even a first date! At The Royal Ballet we had access to a video room, which we could visit at any time to learn choreography and often dancers would visit it before auditions and performances to help put them in a focused frame of mind. Remember, a little bit of preparation goes a really long way. While you might not have access to a video room, even something small like a particular song you listen to before every class or a pre-class stretch sequence can really help set you up!
This one was a huge game changer for me, and I think it’s a really underutilised tool. I encourage all the dancers who attend private ballet coaching with me to take as many notes as they can, so they can look back on them to remind themselves when it’s not as fresh in their mind. Writing down and then reading over the steps in the correct order in a notebook will help you establish a mind/body connection that will allow you to retain the information. Take it another step further by downloading the accompanying music and visualise yourself performing the steps and going through the motions. Test yourself by seeing how far you can get through a sequence or repertoire without looking at your notes! I still have a notebook that’s filled with over 50+ different ballets I learnt when I danced with The Royal Ballet!
Like anything else, learning and remembering choreography is a skill that you will only improve with practice! If you want to test your skills, check out the repertoire section on the Claudia Dean App and see how much you can remember. This is such a good skill to have, particularly if you’re preparing for exams and free enchainement!
Good preparation is key to remembering choreography, making you an incredibly valuable asset to a company that performs a frequent and wide repertoire. You can do this!