I have witnessed several times over the years how quickly and easily our muscles adapt to repetitive dance
Excerpts from the article: Dancing, yoga, gymnastics and weight training are examples of other activities
that require enhanced muscle memory. We can make the learning process easier and help establish muscle memory by
using a few simple techniques
Mysteries of Muscle Memory
By Ramona Klein
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When you learned to write, you trained the muscles in your arm and hand to create letters. It took time and
concentration to do this, but with repetition it became automatic. Your hand developed muscle memory; when you
write your name, your muscles remember how to move without focusing on the process.
Dancing, yoga, gymnastics and weight training are examples of other activities that require enhanced muscle
memory. We can make the learning process easier and help establish muscle memory by using a few simple
* Visual images
* Slow motion
Using a visual image is an effective way to train your body to perform a new dance step or exercise. The best
visual images are those which are familiar and detailed.
In dance, visualizing a movement helps you perform the step. For example, if a dancer wants to make an S-curving
motion with her body, she can visualize a fish swimming, a camel walking, or a snake crawling. Since the best
visual images are familiar and detailed, visualizing the color, texture, shape and markings of the image make it
more vivid and effective. Likewise, visualizing yourself correctly repeating a new dance step or exercise makes the
learning process easier.
Many people find geometric shapes helpful. For example, you can imagine drawing a big circle to make learning a
belly dance hip circle or circle step easier. A square is a useful image for learning a box step or hip square.
Repetition & slow motion
Repetition helps fix a new exercise or dance movement in your mind, so that the next time you perform it, you
remember it more easily and perform it with less effort. Slow repetitions of a new exercise or dance step enable
you to feel every nuance of the movement.
Rushing through a movement before you've completely mastered it skips over the important process of sensing
every nuance of the movement; beginning dance students and exercisers often need to be reminded to slow down. Going
slowly helps your muscles recognize precisely what the movement should feel like when performed correctly.
Micromovement means performing a movement in a very tiny way, using the least range of motion possible. For
example, if you were writing the letter "O" ten inches high and then writing "o" in a script so tiny it could
barely be seen, your "O" would require a much larger hand movement than tiny letter "o", the micromovement. Using a
tiny range of motion helps you sense subtle muscle movements which are occurring, but micromovements must be
performed with awareness to get the full benefit. Going slowly helps.
Have fun with learning!
Select the movement or exercise you are working on, then answer the following:
Imagery: what animal, shape or object does it remind you of?
Repetition: what kind of music would help you when practicing this movement?
Slow motion: how many counts does it take you to complete one repetition?
Micromovement:what is the smallest range of motion you can use for the movement?
Ramona is the author of Dynamic Belly Dance, the Joyful Journey of Dancemaking and Performing. See free belly
dance videos, read book excerpts and order an autographed copy at http://www.DynamicBellyDance.com
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