Become Better Dancers

5 Dance Tips For Picking Up Choreography Faster

Posted on: April 7th, 2014 by Evan Zhou 4 Comments
Photography by:  Jino Abad (

Photography by: Jino Abad (

We’ve all encountered those dancers that pick up choreography ridiculously quickly. The ones that make you feel like you have the mental capacity of a toddler. When a choreographer asks if they can move on, the voice inside your head screams “WAIT NOT YET. DO IT AGAIN SLOWLY WITH COUNTS.” I’ve been there. I started dancing as a bboy/freestyler, so picking up choreo was a concept that was completely foreign to me. But don’t give up! With enough training, you can push yourself to pick up choreo faster. Here are 5 tips to help speed up that process.

1. Keep your eyes off the choreographer as much as you can

We have a natural tendency to keep our eyes on the choreographers as we dance, staring them down and mirroring them as they’re teaching. But once you dance without them, you have no idea what you’re doing. It’s important to study the choreographer to properly understand their movement, execution, and timing, but try to wean yourself off of the choreographer. Push yourself to reduce the amount of times you have to keep your eyes on the choreographer before you try it without watching them. The instant you feel you understand their choreography, try to stop depending on the choreographer and refer to them for notes and fixes. Stay mentally engaged, and you’ll get there.

2. Do the move wrong and move on

In class, the choreographer is in control and sets the pace of things, but sometimes you can’t keep up. Maybe there’s that one move or combo that keeps messing you up. Maybe you just need to go over it a couple times for you to get it. We have a tendency to be fixated on trying to execute every single move perfectly, but sometimes you have to settle for “close enough” and move on. You can always come back and improve upon it later. Go over what you need in between gaps of instruction to make the most of your time, but don’t let it stop you from learning the rest of the piece.

3. Don’t dance and just watch

This is a little counter-intuitive; don’t dance in a dance class? But sometimes there are details your eyes are able to catch that the choreographer can’t explicitly say in words. If they were to explain every single little detail you’re supposed to be executing, classes would take days. So if there’s something you’re not getting, try to catch your breath for a second and really watch what the choreographer is doing.

4. Take multiple classes in a day

Taking multiple classes is a huge strain mentally and physically, but it really helped me learn to pick up choreo. It trains you to wipe the slate clean of whatever you learned in the last class and start fresh in the next class. After a couple classes it is likely you’ll be brain dead, and you’ll probably have no idea what went on in the last class, but soon you’ll be able to remember the choreo to all 3 classes that day.

5. Expose yourself to more styles of dance

There are those moments when you get stuck on this one move from a different style because you’re not trained in that style. It’s important to expand your dance vocabulary, and taking class and practicing different styles will make you a more versatile dancer. There’s nothing wrong with having your own style, but being comfortable with moves from different styles, like some bboy toprock or a house loose leg, will help you breeze through it when a choreographer inevitably ends up using them. So practice and perfect any moves you come in contact with, because you’ll never know when they’ll come up in another combination.

Did these help you out? Have your own tips to learn choreography faster? Leave a comment below!

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  • Aline Bennour

    Do it away from the mirror, stand in the back, connect moves to words in the song, and when teacher goes through the choreo slowly, stay one step behind, to really take your time and to look.
    Practise by being late to class (respectfully tho) to force urself to pick up quick. //express pick up brain :)

    • thatsteezy

      I don’t purposely go to class late, but it tends to happen quite often. Definitely forces you to learn under pressure! Stupid LA traffic.

  • Amelia Carpenter

    Go full out as much as you possibly can – every time they put the music on. Your body is amazing and muscle memory happens faster than you think!

    Another thing I try to do is really listen to the music and make sure I hit the accents in the choreo – this is definitely something I need to improve upon.

  • Marcko Burrola

    I love this!!