When I started in theatre, I always told people that I wasn’t a dancer. To be fair, I wasn’t. That fact didn’t stop my high school drama teacher from casting me as ensemble in the school’s production of Footloose. If you are reading this and know that you can dance, you are a step ahead of the game. If you are less-confident about those dancing feet, don’t worry, you can dance.
Here’s how to get through those dance calls. I was taught that there are five easy ways to learn choreography at auditions or for auditions depending on where you go. The five steps to learn choreography are:
- Work macro to micro
-This basically means to learn the big, general gestures and directions first. Then you can focus on details after.
- Chunk and set markers
-All things can be remembered by grouping them together, so do yourself a favor and group the moves together. If the choreographer teaches the dance in chunks, you are a step ahead.
- Talk to yourself
-While you are breaking the dance down into groups, tell your body what it has to do. I promise it will listen. Talk through the steps once you’ve learned them. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, talk louder than a whisper while the choreographer is teaching the dance, it’s considered extremely rude and it also has the potential to distract from other people learning.
- Don’t dance, just watch
-This sounds weird, but it helps a lot. Especially when there are turns or moments when you have to face the back in the dance. It’ll be a lot easier to stop and face the choreographer when he or she is teaching rather than craning your neck to see behind you.
- Keep your eyes off the choreographer as much as you can
-Much like the step before this, it sounds weird. Believe me, it’s not. Basically what this step is saying is to review the dance while not watching the choreographer. This can be done while learning the chunks or at the very end. If you don’t do this, you will not remember the dance as well, once the choreographer stops teaching and starts watching, you have the potential to forget the dance.
This last tip should go without saying, but do not be afraid to ask questions. Part of the reason that choreographers are there is to answer questions you may have. Other than that, do your best and continue practicing.