Amateur, pre-professional, professional, seasoned Principal, we all could tremendously benefit from this simple habit. Why do we avoid it? Because it’s easy to just walk out of the studio and get on with our lives. So let’s review the benefits of this great habit.
The best habit you can adopt, if you’re not already doing it, is to summarise the feedback you were given as soon as your class or rehearsal is over. We have all heard this advice and most of us are not doing it, so let me help you make this habit so simple that it will stick. If you’re truly committed to improving your art, then there’s no better habit to acquire.
Recognise patterns and trends
The best teachers are able to give you hundreds of feedback (usually called ‘corrections’) an hour. And the more they care and think that you have potential, the more corrections they will give you. It can be overwhelming.
However, if your start writing down this feedback, you’ll start recognising patterns and trends. You might realise that out of the hundred of things you’ve been told, there are actually only 3 things you need to focus on.
Maybe your weight distribution is inefficient and it shows in many steps. It’s encouraging to realise there’s only 3 main areas of focus instead of a hundred little things. Recognising these patterns will help you focus on actionable items and start seeing changes.
Capture the feedback to know where to start
Sometimes we just don’t know what to focus on, and where to start. Maintaining a journal can help you with this: take notes of everything, and at the end of the week read everything that you’ve been told. Ask yourself this simple question: what change could I make that will have the most impact on my dance? Here we are talking about identifying one change that will lead to others.
For example, focusing on the weight placement on your feet is often a key to finding your balance and unlocking your turnout. Your teacher can help you answer this question and you’ll consciously decide to focus on only one or two things for the next few weeks knowing it will have a wider impact than it seems.
Let’s say you’ve decided to improve your turns by better spotting and turning your head faster, you’ll continue to write the other corrections during this time. So once you’ve achieved what you deem to be an acceptable level then you can refer to your journal and pick the next item to focus on. Most likely an item that you see repeated through your list, rather than focusing on this one thing you’ve heard today but is not very important to your progress at the moment.
Use your second brain and be casted more often
Dancers have an amazing trained memory and ballet has always been transmitted orally, so we tend to overlook writing things down . But the truth is that even the best memorisers forget things over time, mix events together or create false memories. The latest research shows that it’s only a matter of weeks to forget 80% of an event. That’s most of your first rehearsal before the Premiere.
Keeping notes alleviate the burden you place on your memory to remember everything, you’ll have more energy to memorise better what matters. Here’s a simple way to apply that to the hectic life of a professional dancer.
You probably have a smartphone, which includes a voice note recording app that you barely used until now. Today is the day you’ll put it to good use. It’s very simple: just at the end of the rehearsal, grab your phone and open the recording app rather than Instagram, hit “record” and dictate every little comment from the choreographer, Maitre de Ballet and your partner(s). This is easier and faster than writing it on a notebook.
Just before your next rehearsal, listen to your notes and you’ll noticed quickly how much more you suddenly remember! Your choreographer will also love the fact that he/she doesn’t have to repeat him/herself so much. You’ll quickly notice that the mere fact of recording your notes at the end of rehearsal actually helps you memorise even more details and you need to listen to the recording less and less overtime. You’ll soon be remembered as a great dancer to work with.