A student recently emailed me asking for advice about how to practice. She was chatting with a dance classmate on the post-class train ride home, and realized neither of them were sure how to practice between classes. I wrote her back, she seemed please with my response, and I thought others who attend weekly in-person dance classes might be interested as well. Here is what I wrote:
I understand about not knowing what, or how, to practice. Here are some initial thoughts/advice that has worked for me over the years, as well as many of my students:
Bring a notebook with you to class, ideally a dedicated dance/movement notebook, and write down what you remember immediately after class (on the way home, when you get home, whatever works). It can be movement, combinations, feelings, one-liners, impressions…whatever is sticking with you. Get it down while it is still fresh.
Within a couple of days be sure to look at those notes again to ‘decipher’ them, and rework or rewrite them as needed so they make sense as time goes by.
(Note: I am a pen and paper person, but this could be done on a tablet or phone as well, I am sure!)
Related idea that takes a bit more time/resources: Video tape yourself when you get home from class doing what you remember. Invaluable.
Listen to Arabic music. Lots of it, not just when you are in practice or dance mode, but for fun when you are puttering around the house, doing what you do. Let it ‘normalize for you as a genre.
If you hear a song you like in class, ask me about it!
Go between focused practice and free practice. In other words, once you get your own notes started you can be methodical about making a plan for what you want to work on. But I also hope on days you want to dance but aren’t sure what to do you will get comfortable just putting on a song and dancing to it without a plan (though sometimes a practice plan forms from there as you go, and that is great, too).
Watch dancing. See what you like and see what you don’t like, and then try to decide why. Is it charisma or costuming? Get past that and try to look at the movement, the reaction to music. Live is great, but video is fine, too. You tube is amazing for this!
Hope that helps with a bit of a start.