Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Learning a New Ice Dance

I found this in my drafts. I'd forgotten all about it. So to tide you over until I'm back, here's a breakdown on learning a new ice dance.

Dance Coach has a structured way to teach me new dances. I assumed this was the only way ice dance was taught until I twice skated with another coach who did it differently. I don't know how other coaches do it, but this is how I'm taught.

My Dance Coach's way.

1.  Learn new elements of the dance separate from the dance.
2.  Skate the basic dance without music just to get the steps in the right places.
3.  Skate to music to get the feel for the dance  beat. Even though I have a strong musical background including instrumental and vocal performance, the first run through with music is always a disaster with the Frowny Face and the Disappointed Voice both making their appearance. (Sometimes, the Deep Deep Sigh too.)
4.  At this point I run into problems. It now takes me about 3 lessons (doing a dance to music 2 to 3 times a lesson) to get a feel for the music and the steps together. I know the elements. I know the steps. I know the music. Unifying them is the problem for me.
5. After I'm sure on my feet, Dance coach adds the fiddly bits and mutters about 'power' a lot and 'lead the turn more' in the corners. This is the point where I get instructions like 'hold for two beats' or 'rise on the beat'. These are pretty easy to learn once I have the rest of the dance down. The whole power issue is never going to go away. It's a constant. At this point the only way I'll get more power is either a time machine gives me the knees I had when I was 14, or I lose 50 lbs. I'll give you a guess which is more likely.
6. Do the dance with all the fiddly bits to music a few times. (and maybe more power).
7. Test

In training this is called chaining behaviors, where the coach breaks down each skill into sub-skills which are first learned; Then the coach chains the sub-skills together into more complex skills.  I used this with my dogs.

Speaking of dog training, I used to train my dogs using a clicker to signal them they were doing the right thing. The other day I found a clicker while I was cleaning out the car (the last dog went over the Rainbow Bridge a long time ago). I was going to toss it away, when I thought of giving it to Dance Coach so he could signal me when I'm doing something right since the music is so loud I can't hear his voice when I'm more than two feet away. But that just seemed too weird. *

What I really need is a two way radio system.

Just kidding.
*Except there's a whole skating program built around it. And seems to help little kids and beginner adults.

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