Ballroom Dance > Mental focus vs muscle memory

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by open_mind, Jul 25, 2017.

  1. open_mind

    open_mind Member

    At this point of my journey in ballroom, I am realizing I lack mental focus to execute all the technical details my teacher tells me to do while I dance. I can do it for 2-3 figures and then unconsciously go back to old/incorrect habits/muscle memory. Quite often, I totally realize I am doing it wrong, but can't fix it quick enough and from that point I sort of give up completely. It's like my old muscle memory takes over my brain and refuses to do anything else.

    I am assuming this is a normal learning process and practice should make it better, but any tips on how to deal with this more efficiently would be appreciated.

    Besides actual practicing, I started doing mental exercises when I put a music on and go through the routine in my head (without moving), trying to think about all the details. I can't tell yet whether it's helping or not.
     
  2. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    That will help but drilling out the old muscle memory and replacing it with the better technique as new muscle memory is the most effective and sometimes only solution
     
  3. raindance

    raindance Well-Known Member

    If you can only do the new technique/info for 2 - 3 figures, then at a practice session, maybe just do 2 -3 figures at a time. Do some repetitions with the same 2-3 figures, then pick another 2-3 figures and repeat. (This assumes something that applies to a lot of different figures. If the info only applies to certain figures, then just do those.) This may help you avoid having the opportunity to practice the old/incorrect way.

    Later (another day, perhaps) try again with a slightly longer group of figures. Later, try with a longer sequence, or in the context of your full routine.

    Another thing you can try is to pick multiple places in a longer sequence where you consciously remind yourself of the new info/technique. It could be on every 1, or at the start of each figure, or other spots depending on what the info is and how often you need to remind yourself of it. This won't work as well in the situation you describe above where you are aware of the mistake but are unable to fix it. But it may work for you later on, after practicing the earlier suggestions of smaller chunks of the dance.

    One other idea - how many things are you trying to fix at the same time? If you have multiple corrections, it can be helpful to pick just one or two, and focus only on those for one run through. Then pick another one or two, then another, until you are back where you started. When some are going well, see if you can do 2-3 at the same time instead of 1-2. And when one or more of those things falls apart, go back to practicing just one of them for a little bit. It is very difficult to simultaneously fix 5 different things at a time, it's just too much to focus on mentally.
     
  4. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    And even then, be prepared for the old way to pop up (thankfully with decreasing frequency) for YEARS when you are tired, or stressed, or overwhelmed with new information, or sometimes, just to mess with you...
     
  5. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    One thing I do when I get stuck like that is go through figures concentrating on one specific aspect of technique... everything else just has to let go for a moment. Once I feel like I've got that, then I'll try adding something else, and build it up a bit at a time. If I find myself slipping at some point, I take a step back and go through it until everything is solid again.
     
  6. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    I highly recommend trying to not do the "give up completely". My teacher has gives me a quality to fix/improve on the fly when things start feeling not quite right. It varies over time, and it's not that it always fixes everything, but it helps me keep going and (potentially) recover. It you have a "go to" fix, it removes the deterioration that comes with trying to think too much while dancing. ;)
     
    Caroline Skipper likes this.
  7. ajiboyet

    ajiboyet Well-Known Member

    I do this too.

    For example, with rumba walks, I noticed that I was picking up my foot sometimes. Now, rumba walks have a lot going on, from feet all the way to torso. But I took a little time to practice walks, focusing on foot pressure and tracking, completely ignoring hip actions, upper body and torso actions, arms, everything else. It made it much better. I drilled it enough that I don't think about it anymore.

    Ballroom dance moves usually have a lot going on throughout your body. Sometimes, it helps to break the stuff down into different parts of the body, and work on it one part at a time.
     
    Sania, Miss Silly and cornutt like this.

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