Home / Mary's Dance Diary / Practice, Practice, Practice, And Then Practice Some More.

Practice, Practice, Practice, And Then Practice Some More.

Mary Serico - I Got The Music In Me - June Virtual Show 2020

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Dance lessons are an essential luxury for me, and for me to get the most out of my lessons, I need to practice every day, both scheduled and ad hoc. If I slack off between lessons, my dance teacher Georgi can tell within 5 minutes.

For me, the perfect time to practice a Rumba Box or Swivels in Cha Cha is while waiting in line at the store, during conference calls in my office, or walking down the hallway. This keeps the muscle memory sharp and adds some additional cardio to your day. The company security cameras have caught me dancing down the hallway on the way to a meeting more times than I can count. They stopped calling my boss to see if anything was wrong after the first month. 😀

During my lessons at Dance A Lot Ballroom Studio, I feel comfortable and secure dancing whatever steps we were covering with my teacher. But when I get home, all bets are off, and practice may be uncomfortable and unproductive. As soon as the environmental cues change, memory decreases. Anyone who has taken an accounting class and memorized that the debits were by the window and then changed classrooms can understand the challenge.

Being a dutiful student, I take what I think are detailed notes on every characteristic of the step, including foot position, counts, arms, etc., but when I try the step at home, something feels off. At the dance studio, I am dancing with Georgi in a controlled environment in a specific space, but at home, the floors are different, the space is different, I am dancing by myself, and Georgi is not there to count. I am untethered and forget the key factors of the steps without the dance studio’s environmental cues.

My Covid Zoom lessons helped me to translate the environmental cues of the Dance A Lot studio to my practice space at home. When I rehearse, my front entrance is the studio mirror, my library is the studio office, and my kitchen is the studio front door. This guides me so I can tell if I am overturning, my steps are too big, etc. It isn’t perfect but has helped me have more effective practices at home. I am still working on setting the environmental cues when we are on vacation, or I am at the gym. It is getting better, but still a challenge.

I schedule my showcase practice for the morning because it is when I have the most energy. To make it a purposeful practice I set a goal for each one and dance without and with music. My daily practice sessions have helped my muscle memory, strength, stamina, and musicality. If there is a portion of the showcase that I am unsure of or doesn’t seem correct, I skip those steps, so I don’t build incorrect muscle memory. The first thing we cover in my next lesson is my questions so I can fix the issues.

The ad hoc and purposefully scheduled practice sessions have helped me expand out of my comfort zone to work on more difficult showcases and feel more in tune with all the dynamics of the dance steps.

Mary Serico and her teacher Georgi Kanev performing “Tinkerbell” dance showcase at the Manhattan Dancesport Championships in Brooklyn, NY

About Mary: Mary has been dancing since 2006. She loves dancing Cha Cha, Rumba, and Swing, but her favorite thing is to do showcases. With her husband Joe, they spend their time enjoying the retired life at the Jersey shore, golfing, traveling, and attending rock concerts.

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