I am continually shocked, yes struck down dumbfounded, at the amount of dancers who don’t record their trainings.
Whenever a dancer is struggling, plateaued or looking for tips or ways to improve their dancing the first question I always ask is “do you record yourself?”… if the answer is no (or not consistently), this is where we begin…
Listen up – Recording yourself and watching your footage BEFORE YOU SLEEP, EVERY TRAINING is KEY to faster progression and perfecting your form!
When you record your training and watch your movement as soon as possible post training you have the benefit of strong body memory. That is, our bodies are capable of storing memories of an event within our bodies, not just within our brains.
New movements are like short-term memory – they elude us quickly, but with repetition we can tweak and perfect these movements while adding them to our long-term repertoire.
Imagine every time you drove a car, you drove in a different way – from the passenger seat, the back seat, the opposite side of the road, backward… you would overall get better at driving yes, but accidents would happen more often and few people would truly perfect the skill of driving.
The repetition of life is what we build our skills upon and bad habits can creep in quickly and often without notice.
Last month I broke the second toe on my left foot. I took a week off and then could handle no more and I began to pole again. A few weeks later I was feeling blah about my dancing. I hypothesized the ‘blah’ feeling was me holding back due to the pain of dancing through an injury, so I pressed on hoping it would get better with time. I then noticed, through watching my footage, that I had begun climbing and spinning with my inside arm low as opposed to high instinctively to bring some of the drag off my injured foot while gaining momentum in my pole mounts. The improper hand placement was making my dance look unbalanced and off. This little (but huge) monster snuck in without me even realizing it. Now this is a big obvious correction but these minute mistakes happen in even the smallest of movements and they need to be monitored, recognized and corrected.
There are some serious positives that come out of recording and watching your movement:
I’ve had countless times that I have stopped dancing mid-freestyle because I feel I had ‘messed up’ too many times to make worthy the continuation of the dance. Then later, as I’m reviewing my footage, I find myself totally engrossed in that very same movement I thought was garbage, wishing I had continued… this revelation was not only a confidence builder but it trains you to press through regardless of the situation – to never give up and recognize that every moment counts! You are only one perspective of infinate angles.
I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve discovered some seriously cool moves from a mistake (especially with floor-work). While watching your footage, you can pick out those accidental moments and replicate them again easily. This ability is ‘super-powered’ if you watch within a few hours of execution because you can still ‘feel’ or ‘remember’ where you were in that moment… it’s stored in that short-term body memory we all have (but it seeps away quickly, which is why I always recommend viewing your footage as soon as possible).
When we learn a new movement it is often not our best work and requires tweaking, adjusting and perfecting. We need to round out those corners and make it our own. We need to learn transitions into and out of that movement and define how we want to present that movement to others.
Just as we evolve as people we evolve as dancers. We become more flexible, more skilled and our movements naturally adjust. These movements require monitoring and fine-tuning.
I’ve found myself having to go back and correct a move that I had previously solidified in my movement simply because I had became more flexible over time and the move began to look overextended. So instead of stretching harder into my positioning, I had to hold back some, correct my form and align my lines in the way I intended them to be presented.
I’ll say it one more time…
RECORD (each and every single time you dance… yes always!) Every moment counts!
WATCH (before you sleep – not tomorrow!) Reap the benefits of that short-term body memory… and take mental (if not physical) notes.
There is a lot that passes us by unintentionally un-noticed. By recording ourselves and watching ourselves, we can take a more active role in our personal progression as movement artisans and define our craft into art.