Two basic steps you will see a lot at movement calls are the “grapevine” and “three step turn.” You will see many variations of the steps at different speeds, with different arms, different “buttons” or endings, and different moods. (They can be made “peppy,” “sexy,” “western,” “graceful,” etc. Play around with them. See how quickly you can get your feet moving. See if you can put your arms on your hips, above your head, waving around. Put on different music and see how Beyonce informs the movement differently than “Grease Lightening,” or a Strauss Waltz. They are super easy to practice at home! It’s Sunday! Have fun!:)
When you memorize lines you have a script, when learning music you have a score, when learning dance you have…
Well – there is specific dance notation called Labanotation , but it is both difficult to learn and read. In fact, most professional dancers have never learned labanotation. In ballet, you have a language, every step has a specific name, so you can write it down “tombe pas de bourree glisade grande jete,” but most musical theatre/stage choreography uses movements without names. So what to do? Well, here are some ideas of what I do.
The BEST suggestion I can give you is to VIDEO your rehearsals. (or at least the final “run” of a piece of choreography in a rehearsal.) This allows you to go back and reference movements and counts similar to a score or a script. It also gives you an opportunity to evaluate yourself and see where you can improve. I will just bring my canon point and shoot camera to rehearsal and use the video function. I”ve seen people with flip recorders, cell phones, and video cameras. Whatever floats your boat. Two words of advice, sometimes the best angle you get is to record your reflection in the mirror rather than trying to record straight on, and most importantly, always always *ALWAYS* ask permission of everyone involved with the rehearsal. Sometimes people, for a variety of reasons, don’t want to do video-ed and you need to respect their wishes.
With the video, I will often rent a studio, bring my laptop with the video on it, and rehearse alone. You can also rehearse in your living room, or the park, or a hidden corner of the rehearsal studio. If you start reviewing during rehearsal or on a break, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how many people are in your same boat, and will join you to review.
So, if you can’t video what do you do? If you can, assign every “section” a name and every step within a section a name. For example, you could have the “opening hoe-down section” “the drunk section” “the rhumba section” “the cheesey finale section.” Within the “opening hoe-down section” you might assign names such as “thigh smacks, spit on hands, jump with heel clicks, 3 quick turns in place, clap, clap, clap, clap.” The actual words don’t matter so long as they make sense to YOU. You can also draw fun stick figures to help to help you remember what positions are. If the choreography goes along with words, you can write the steps/stick figures under the words in your score. If it’s instrumental, I like to notate them vertically on a white piece of paper. If you are rhythmic, you can add counts to your image. Here is an example.