On Muscle Memory

The key to improvisation is to give your body a repertoire of moves and to allow your body to respond to the music with a spontaneous and expressive flowing.

We dancers are sculptors of the space around us; not interpreting what we see, but what we hear.

You can flail your arms around as if drowning in a riptide or you can give in to the current and flow with it.
When someone shows you a new move, your eyes may see it, but your body doesn't "know" it yet.

So, what is "muscle memory"?
For a technical explanation of it, you can go to my husband's site. (scroll down to " Building and Stimulation of Neural Pathways ") He's a goaltending coach, and I've found that there is very little difference between goaltending and dancing! One difference is that the goalie reacts to the puck, rather than the music. The other big difference is, there are no wrong reactions in dancing; so proceed fearlessly.

But, it boils down to this...repeat an action until you don't have to think about it anymore.
You have not got time to think about your next move. Sure, you can keep up a shimmy until you figure out what move you'd like to produce next; but then, you aren't reacting to the music in a pure way.
One of the most important keys here is getting your arms and hands on autopilot.
The arms and hands frame your movement.
It's important to get them educated on where to be to best frame whatever move you're doing.
One usefull exercise is to let your hands float around you in wrist circles as you go through your day.
When you find yourself at the grocery store and you notice your hands have been dancing without you being conscious of them, your hands are on autopilot.

The more moves your body has memorized, the easier it is for it to come up with a move to suit the music.

Return to List of Subjects