For Teachers

Muscle Memory, Stars, and Minus Signs - How To Avoid The Learning Curve

11:05 AM

Continuing where I left off on my earlier post about doing it correctly or not doing it at all... Wouldn't it be great if students could get it correctly from the get-go? We wouldn't have to correct mistakes or fix bad habits accidentally created in the process of learning a new step!

I have good news for you.

Photo credit: Stage Door Dance, Raleigh NC; Winter intensive
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In my classes, I use a combination of classical ballet mixed with exercises from Eileen Juric's PowerDance Technique system, formerly known as Ballet Barre None.

These exercises are designed to teach the dancer to execute movements organically, from the inside out, concept before content, mechanism before movement.

One of the things Eileen talks about a lot is Effort Quotient. More on that later.

But no matter your system, exercises, or method, there will always be students who:
  • complain about doing exercises multiple times
  • can demonstrate a step correctly, but fall back into their bad habits easily
  • get frustrated with their inability to improve, or see their improvement
  • struggle to apply the corrections you give them. 
How can we change this, and encourage our students through their learning process?

Every year, in every class, I explain my Stars and Minus concept to them, and it helps them measure their improvement and avoid making bad habits by accident

For instance: You explain a combination, and the whole time your students mark the feet and arms. You ask if they understand and are ready to dance, they say yes. When they go to dance the combination they thought they understood, they have horrible arms, bad foot positions, and have forgotten the combination or no longer understand it.

Do your students say they understood the combo, but they can't dance it?
Another example: Your student receives a correction and applies it, does it correctly a few times, and then takes their turn across the floor, only to fall back into their former habit that you just corrected.

Wouldn't it be awesome if we could cut these situations out of dance class? Students would improve and learn so much faster and more efficiently.

And how about the complaining? Everyone seems to think as soon as they do it right, they don't have to keep practicing it!
But I don't want to do it AGAIN.
Well, I made a video explaining my Stars and Minus concept the exact way I teach it to my students. I would love to share it with you totally free, and have you explain it to them. It will change their attitudes in class!

After explaining this concept to my students, they:
  • are more attentive to corrections
  • are less likely to be frustrated by their learning curve
  • don't complain about repeating exercises multiple times
  • gain more strength, stamina, and muscle memory
  • practice corrections without being told
The youngest age I begin explaining this concept is age 5, or our Beginner Level 1 class. Some 5-year-old's still struggle with the concept, but can usually get it if you draw it out on a white-board or piece of paper like I do in the video.

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~Miss Haley

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