The Power of Videos
I generally prefer not having my picture taken and that goes double for videos. That being said, videos have become one of my best friends in my dance journey.
Early on in both our couple and my individual dance lessons, I tried taking notes – especially regarding foot placement with some of the figures. We would get home and try to practice and the notes didn’t make enough sense to help us. As the figures have become more complicated, the note taking became too onerous to even try.
Back in the day, since phone technology wasn’t spectacular, we bought a video camera to help us – and it did. Although we probably weren’t as consistent in recording as we should have been – the little clips did help enough to get through some practice sessions at home.
Of course, now that smart phones have improved so much, videoing just about anything is easier. I am also very fortunate to have had instructors willing to demonstrate figures for me, or get someone to video us doing the figure together. Just having those clips at home has greatly enhanced my practice time. I am amazed at how often I go back to the clips – even some of the older ones to refresh on a figure I may have forgotten.
Since our studio also brings in external coaches from time to time, videoing a new figure or a new way of shaping or arm styling as demonstrated by the coach has been a gold mine for improving my dance. Repetitive viewing is critical to grasp all the nuances. The first few viewings are to get the footwork right, then I can move on to enhanced shaping or arm styling.
As I add new dances for competitions (I’ve moved into international standard), and my American smooth silver routines have become more complicated (requiring more expression and shaping), we’ve also begun to video the entire “routines” for me to use for solo practice sessions focused on technique and footwork. My private lessons then become opportunities for partnering and refining – rather than re-hashing the content of a particular figure.
And after several years of avoidance – think never watching videos of my dancing (I really hate seeing myself on camera, etc.), I am gradually becoming reconciled to watching my performances. Must admit, I am picking up on both mistakes and progress. It is a bit of a kick when I actually see myself doing something well. Who knows, I might even come to enjoy it.