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Lesson 2: Names and Chunks

"Salsa Bachata Class Accelerator" Lesson 2: Names and Chunks

The video below is part of a paid program on one of our sister sites. We're giving it away for free here at Movers and Shakers.

This "Local Class Learning Accelerator" series is about learning how to learn.

The series will teach you to squeeze the absolute most benefit from every salsa and bachata class you take here at Movers and Shakers.

It is meant to be completed in order, so start from Lesson 1.

Audio Transcript: Below is the audio transcript of this lesson. Headers have been added.

Understanding Chunking: Simplifying Complex Dance Patterns

Alright, we're going to look at something called chunking sometimes, or grouping things together. Basically, the concept is sometimes an instructor will take you through a big long pattern and forget getting the details of the pattern, just remembering the pattern itself can be tricky.

If it's 4, 8, 10, 12, 8-counts, that can be a lot to remember in a single class. So you need a strategy for getting the whole pattern into your muscle memory quickly so you can focus on the more important things, which is probably the little intricacies and details of the pattern.

Strategies for Memorizing Salsa Dance Sequences Efficiently

So let me just give you a quick example here. Let's say we're doing shines and I give you this pattern right here.

We go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8...

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 1, ok? or if we're doing it on 2, it would be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8...

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ok? So there's the shine pattern.

Now if a student is thinking, I go this way, I go that way, I go this way, and they're just thinking of it step by step, it is going to be hard to memorize the whole sequence. I know this because we've taught this in class and I've watched students, some students struggle to get this whole pattern.

Breaking Down Dance Patterns: From Complexity to Clarity

So what you need to do is chunk this into bigger pieces in your mind, alright? Let's give you an example here. So we'll go back to dancing on 1.

Right here 1, 2, 3, 4. That's a Suzy Q, right? We stopped on 4 instead of 5, but no big deal. So let's keep going 5, 6, 7, 8, and it repeats.

So it's kind of like 2 Suzy Qs to the right so 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

There's a pattern and then we can think of it as going forward or maybe just with the left foot. Then, the same thing going to the left, Suzy Q.

Let me get the timing for you 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 1...

Now to the left 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 1 and it was the same thing twice to the left.

Harnessing Chunking Techniques for Improved Dance Learning

So now, instead of all these little steps, we're thinking of kind of like 2 sets of Suzy Qs. So you might think of it as a shape. Let's say the shape you're thinking of is it goes to the right and then forward, and then to the left.

So now let's look at it again. We're going to the right 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Now forward, 1 and now left 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 1. So we have 2 Suzy Qs to the right, forward, 2 Suzy Qs to the left.

When you think of it that way, suddenly you've taken maybe 15 or 20 things to think about and broken it down into just, or condensed it really, into just 3 things to think about. That's going to help you get the pattern so much more quickly.

Instructors are not always going to break it down into different pieces for you like that and everybody has a different experience in every class, and you might think of your pattern in a different way than somebody else thinks of their pattern.

Maybe you think of this as the counts that you're supposed to cross your foot on.

So like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Okay, so maybe you're remembering 4 and 8, and then it becomes 1, 2.

So you remember 4, 8, 1, 2....1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

1, 2. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 1. So 5 and 1.

So I personally think that that method would be a little more confusing. But if that's how you end up thinking of it in your mind, then that's good for you.

The Secret to Dance Pattern Memorization

Whenever I'm teaching somebody one-on-one, I'll explain things multiple different ways until that individual gets it. Sometimes there's not necessarily a rhyme or reason to it. It's just everybody thinks differently, everybody has a different experience.

So when you're in the class and an instructor gives you a big, long pattern, I want you to chunk it into smaller pieces so it's easier to remember those pieces and this goes with partnering as well.

Memorize Salsa Dance Sequences Better with Chunking

Think of the building blocks, right? They give you a big partnering pattern and you might say, oh, that piece is a hammerlock. That piece is a cross-body lead inside turn instead of just, okay, so then I'm going to go here, and then I'm going to go here, and then I'm going to go here. I hear that a lot. The word "here". Go here. Go here. Well, that doesn't compute to anything meaningful in your mind.

So maybe the teacher is saying that, fine, no worries. But you're going to think, no, not go here, you're going to think, oh, cross-body lead inside turn 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Now that piece of the pattern is handled because you already have an association to it that you're familiar with. So use names that you're familiar with. Break it into bigger pieces, actually, but fewer pieces and that's going to help you a lot to learn the longer patterns.

So implement this right away next time you go to a local class. I want you to start thinking about this so that you can get in the habit of it. 

Salsa Bachata Class Learning Accelerator Lessons

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