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Hello! I have been gone from this forum for a while but finally decided to make the time in my shedule for more than the occasional ballet class. (I'm taking three 2 hour classes at my university).

I am really loving it and though my body is not quite back in shape (let's not talk about my sad extensions), I am happy that I recall most of the steps and all in all didn't lose too much in my two years away.


But to the point! One thing I have never been good at is recalling (physically at least) a combination across the floor. I am getting rather frustrated at myself and really don't know how to improve this. I would expect this from combos where I am not comfortable with all the steps, but in piecemeal I can do them. Oddly enough I can usually do the combo with out problem alone after class (I have the teacher check to make sure I am remembering it right, and they usually say I have it). So I am not sure what is going on.


Anyone else have this issue? is there hope I'll learn?


& sorry if this topic has been visited recently, my searching skills aren't too good.

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I think we all have experienced that same thing when we began.


Don’t worry about it as it is perfectly natural. If I remember my exercise physiology correctly, when we learn some new physical movement or dance combination, we use a section of our brain that stimulates very discreet and specific movements to the muscles. As we develop skill, our movements originate in an adjacent section of the brain, a section that stimulates movement patterns. Consequently at first our movements are discreet, almost with something like a pause between each one, but with practice we learn to move in patterns.


To get those nice patterns, you just have to be patient and let your nervous system develop the patterns. Repetition helps a lot. At home do those combinations that give you trouble. With practice, they will come together nicely. You will also find that teachers have their favorite “mini-combinations” that will reappear again and again in slightly different ways.

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problem is I am not just beginning... granted I took a couple years break, but before that I danced for a about 3 years, so that is part of the frustration I should get it by now! I can do it smoothly alone after class, it just doesn't happen when we are supposed to be doing it. Oh well, maybe one day it will click...I just want it to click NOW :)

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Well, I'll add my bit too - which is along the line of garyecht's - though I dont know why you can do the sequences alone after class - are you maybe doing them slower, or maybe you are less tense after class?


It is known (from recording brain activity), that in making a movement, our brain is preparing the movement for nearly half a second before we move. Therefore when we are making a whole sequence of movements, while we are doing one movement, our brain is already preparing the next one. This is course is quite difficult and needs practice - because you are asking the brain to do two things at once.


I have the impression (and I dont know if it is correct, but it is certainly my feeling), that we have to practice every set of steps in every combination before we get it right - and that what is happening, is that brain is (say) learning to do a pas de bourree while at the same time preparing a pas de chat, and so on, for all possible combinations of steps.


This may seem impossible because there are so many possible combinations of steps, but I suggest that this is (one reason) why we need to do so much practice.



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Oh, this is a perennial adult dancer concern! First of all, I'd say that you were only learning for 3 years before you took a break. In terms of the number of repetitions needed to embed muscle memory, that's not actually a very long time.


I get confused with petit allegro mostly, and yet when I get home, and can concentrate and take my time, like you, I can get the combination. My "technique" in class (such as it is :) ) is to do what I can and then keep going, while faking if necessary -- I try at least to get the direction, shape, and rhythm of the combination, if not the exact steps.


My weakness is all the little connecting steps, would you believe? Logically, I know that they should just flow, and if I don't think about them too much, I can sometimes get them right, but sometimes I just sort of panic and get blocked. Ridiculous, but who says our bodies & minds always work to a perceptible logic?!


Here are some earlier threads which might also help. I particularly remember a discussion about trying to get the PATTERN of a combination, and its dynamics, as well as the exact steps, which is what I started to apply myself when I get stuck.


How to Learn and retain combinations


The left side gets confused

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thanks redbookish for the links!

In 'the left side gets confused', confusing left and right sounds just like me! (I was ambidextrious as a child & though now I tend to write with my right hand, I still don't favor one side of my body over the other consistently. I find thinking up stage, etc. helped with that)


I think part of the problem as when moving in a group I get a little claustrophobic (I know it sounds odd) and that adds to my nerves, I noticed in a near empty class I did a lot better and I rarely have problems on the barre. So Jim you are probably right about the tenseness. (That and at the end of class it is no longer a cold run, I have done it once or twice already and had time to soak in).


As everyone said I will just practise practise and then practise some more! Some days I just get more frustrated with myself than others.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am so glad to hear that I am not the only one with this problem!!! I did ballet a lot until I went to University, and then stopped completely for about 20 years. Never had any problems remembering as a child (that I can remember ha, ha), but now in adult class it just will not stick :) ... I did a beginners class last year, and that was OK, but now in the intermediate/advanced class; help! Thankfully we repeat the parts from the center for about 3 weeks ( with some minor changes, like double speed), so the first week is disastrous, and then with some practice at home it gets better gradually for the next 2 weeks. I do occasionally have the feeling that things are coming back ( usually by week 3), and then the next week it is back to feeling lost again. If only I had more time to do more classes...

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... If only I had more time to do more classes...

I don't think that helps much. I also get the same combinations slightly modified for 2 to 4 weeks. When I was taking 2 or 3 classes, the memory improved with each class as you described, even without practice between classes. I've taken as many as 10 classes a week, and it does not come any faster. Maybe more classes just means more to remember? :blink: It is slowly getting better, but I've only been dancing 5 years so far. :lol:

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More classes= more to remember... You have a good point there! That is a bit of a depressing thought... What I was hoping for though, is that I would find it easier to remember the 'phrases', or the sequences of steps that are often repeated, because it still happens regularly that my mind will go 'blank', even though I must have done the sequence lots of times when I was younger. This is only my 2nd year back, and I am still hopefull that some things will come back to me, even though I know that I am not 16 anymore. :lol:

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