How do we learn to dance?

How do we learn to dance?

Have you ever wondered how we actually learn new movements? 

Learning to dance is no small task.

When we dance we need to layer many different movements one over the other that all have their own speed and movement quality that culminate to produce not only a representation of rhythm but also of some kind of emotional response or interpretation of the music that accompanies us.

For example if we look at a typical llamada por bulerias…

At the level of the feet we have strong percussive footwork that over the course of a compás can vary between double or sometimes triple time.

We have arms that can move at a slower speed (for example moving from 2nd to 1st position over 3 beats) or make sharp accented movements when required.

We have our body which is grounded so that we can produce strong or delicate footwork, but lifted through the torso and chest to express and project to our audience.

We have our head and gaze (mirada) that also has it’s own path of movement either working with or against the feet or arms.

At the same time we carry the compás and need to be completely aware of what the musicians and the singer are doing.

When you take just one step such as the llamada above and start breaking it down to its constituent parts you start to realise just how incredible it is that we are able to learn these complicated movements.

Today we are going to look at one of the theories of motor learning that will help to illustrate (using a model) how we learn.

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Table of Contents - preview

1.1 Have you actually wondered how we learn new movements?
1.2 Example - breaking down a llamada por bulerias
How do we learn new movement patterns
2.1 Motor learning definition
2.2 Motor control definition
2.3 Fitt's and Posner's Three Stage Model
2.3.1 Cognitive stage
2.3.2 Associative Stage
2.3.3 Autonomous stage
Conclusion and implications for adult students of flamenco dance

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