How do you learn movement?

Is learning movement or dance different than acquiring other skills or intellectual knowledge? Using this list of nine intelligences that Howard Gardner proposes in his theory of “multiple intelligences” (MI), please respond to your experience as it relates to learning movement vocabulary, memorizing steps and transitions, kinesthesia, proprioception, embodying imagery, etc…


14 thoughts on “How do you learn movement?

  1. I have two answers for the first part of this question. I definitely use different skills to memorize a foreign language and write papers. I access my linguistic and existential intelligence in order to solve many academic problems pertaining to my major. However, sometimes I use spatial tricks or make up songs to memorize bits of information. But for internalizing and executing movement I use a combination of rhythmic, bodily, spacial, and intrapersonal intelligence. If I’m dancing to music I try to internalize the rhythm because once it’s in my body I can more easily sync my movement. I think that the bodily and intrapersonal skills work together for me, because I try to check in with my physical and psychological capability every time I dance, which can even be multiple times a day as it is always changing. Using those two intelligences allows me to be more aware of how much I should push myself and focus. Spacial intelligence is important for me when I’m working around others or choreographing movement. All of these things together help me focus on my body and allow it to move in different ways.

  2. When i watch dance performances they seem to be done so gracefully that the though of the performers actually practicing seems surreal. However, as a performer i know that because the movements are done with such ease that i know there was more then the movement practice. I was told that the way of learning movement is by perfect practice, practice has to be perfectly, where there is the maximum engagement of the mind, body, and soul. This is similar to acquiring other skills. For instance, for me, repetition is what it takes to have a perfect practice.

  3. I feel like for me, learning dance is different from learning other school assignments. For dance, I feel a lot better if I can put music to the choreography so that I can develop a rhythm in my body, so that falls in line with musical rhythm intelligence. Dance also corresponds with bodily intelligence. You need to be able to figure out what your body is capable of in order to let it work with you. I know that a problem for me is that I try to make dance more of a logical intelligence. I feel like my mind and my body clash when it comes to learning new movements. I get in my head and doubt myself as opposed to just trying a move and letting it go. But I do agree with Gardner’s point of multiple levels of intelligence.

  4. It’s interesting, because after reading about these Multipul Intelligences I can sense the different ways in which I feel comfortable when taking in new knowledge. While not everything I learn is movement, I occasionally feel the need to engage my Linguistic and Logical intelligence to thoroughly intake new information; however, I also feel a sense of an overlapping in that I use Musical Rhythmic Intelligence, Kinesthetic Intelligence, and Spacial Intelligence for all types of learning, not just movement.
    When it comes specifically to movement, I believe that I largely use rhythm to understand and engage myself. I see rhythm also being used in my other types of learning as well, where often times I will sing a song or make up rhymes that trigger my memory. I also feel as though my Intrapersonal Intelligence is very important as it sometimes helps or hinders my abilities. While I understand my kinesthetic body, I believe I sometimes convince myself to stay away from trying a new way to move or learn.

  5. Learning dance is definitely a process for me. As a choreographer, I understand the style and the demand in my body before I can actually put it to practice. In order to say that I can be good at it, I definitely have to teach (to be able to remeber sequences and emotions) and also then practice. This isn’t any different than other types of skills or knowledge for me. It ussually starts the same way. If I can understand the concept, then I can start to let my body do the rest. Sometimes, of course, it doesn’t happen right way, but I then have a basis for what it is supposed to look like or feel like. A lot of the work I do as well, has evolved so depending on my past experience, I am able to make more conscious decisions about how much more to let me body go when learning, teaching, and performing. It all comes with practice and I am slowly getting better everyday.

  6. Some would think that dance is not equivalent to the academic par of other subjects, but I think that is false. While learning for other classes, you may use words or numbers to interpret the material you have absorbed, dance also uses a language. Dance uses body language. The ability to read one’s body is like reading a textbook. As a dancer, I feel I need to be aware of what my body is doing, having that control. When I first was introduced to dance, I never counted but found myself following to the rhythm and melody of the music. I was “corrected” to do so. Counting, perhaps altered me to become slightly robotic. So I enjoy that in class we are not expected to be the perfect image of the Professor, but we can illustrate the piece through our own body language.

  7. I think that learning movement can be as complicated as learning math or other intelligences that Gardner proposes. Learning movement, for me, is complex and quite odd because as I am being shown the movement or a certain dance, I find it difficult to just watch; instead I try to do the movement while it is being presented. I do think that observing is necessary. As much as do the movements while it is being presented, I also try to just observe every movement and see what the instructor is doing. I think it is important to do this because you might miss a certain move while you are trying to follow along. I find it easier to improvise a little then to struggle trying to figure out the steps. Although learning movement may be difficult, it is not stressful, in fact it can be very therapeutic.

  8. Learning dance is similar to learning anything else in that the more honed you are into all types of intelligences, the more you can draw from. Dance is a great intersection of intelligences for me. Thinking about the body mathematically/logically helps me internalize the “why” behind technique. For example, it is important that I understand how to use my core to help me lift my leg. Being able to think about the cause and effect within somatic system inevitably opens up possibilities for range of movement. For choreographers, spatial intelligence is crucial for organizing dancers within their performance space. Interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence is also necessary for signifying and then codifying movement between choreographers, dancers, and audience members. I think existential questions often inspire choreography. Musical and rhythmic intelligence keeps a dancer from moving through time and space blindly. Recognizing rhythm and building musicality ultimately navigates a dancer through the given choreography.

  9. I definitely agree with Natthalie’s thoughts, because the way I learn movements is through observing others and allowing yourself to try out what your being taught regardless of how horrible you think you are. I have learned that movement can be expressed in various ways if you have the correct body language. Movement can be performed by following along the beat of the music, which is what helps me keep my rhythm. Learning movements is not difficult for me, but making progress with the movements takes time for me because I tend to get so anxious in trying to grasp everything so fast that I fail to realize that I am not actually making the progress I wish to make. I have learned that body language is part of what can define movement and I can infer on my behalf that as long as I am patience with myself and input dedication to what I’m learning I can become better at dancing.

  10. The way in which I learn movement is through continuous practice, observation, and perhaps mimicking whoever I admire until I can acquire my movement. The reason why continuous practice works for me is that I tend to be a slow movement learner. I tend to get easily confused when there are fast movements in a choreography,my coordination becomes lost. Having to practice multiple times, allows my mind to fully understand where certain body parts should be, how I should feel, as well as how I should look like. When learning body movement, I tend to have trouble being able to connect everything, in order to make my dance more gracefully. ( * I thought that I had to write the blogs in the personal account, until I realized we all just comment on these questions)

  11. When learning new movement I use every trick I can in order to make it natural in my own body. I listen to the music as best I can to memorize telling beats and pauses. I repeat each movement over and over until it is no longer just a mimicry but something of my own, that my body has adjusted to. I make my own sounds with each movement to recall when practicing it so that it becomes a personalized activity. And I try to go over it at least once a day no matter what I’m doing. For me the key to learning new choreo is to think about it and do it until it becomes your own. In this process it is important to utilize every possible technique, including those that are often used when studying for a test. It is all revolved around the same idea that in order to perform your best, both in a show or on a test, you have to find a way to make the material your own. So overall I think that learning to dance is extremely similar to any other form of learning because there are core ideas and steps that one needs to know first before they can really integrate the movement or subject into their own mind or body.

  12. This dovetails a conversation I had with some friends days ago about IQ tests. I thought they had strong cultural biases toward valuing specific intelligences, my physics and math majored friends disagreed. The concept of MI makes a lot of sense to me.
    Learning choreography is something I’m working to understand right now. Executing specific movements seems so easy compared to memorizing a string of movements. I learned tai chi by practicing over and over, watching and mimicking my instructor, taking small bits at a time until it was in my muscle memory, while constantly checking in to make sure that I was adhering to the eight basic tenants. The kinesthetic repetition seemed to any need to think about what I was doing. Massage was very similar. At first we learned a recipe: we’d effleurage, petrissage, fan, and tepotment in that order to every part of the body. I’d check in with my partner about pressure and try to embody what I learned through tai chi while I was practicing. Instructors would walk around and correct us when we did something incorrect, usually as a result of getting too in our heads we’d tend to lead with them and forget the sky hook and coming from our core. It was a very embodied process that centered around feeling, not memorization.
    That is my biggest struggle: to memorize the string of choreography. In the video, I saw how disembodied I was when I resided primarily in my head: cueing off others or trying to remember the moves. But when was able to be fully present in my body, my movements were much more full and more pleasing to the eye. I don’t yet have an answer to this question. I want to improve my ability to remember choreography because I’m beginning to doubt my ability to learn.

  13. When it comes to learning new movements, I can never settle on one technique. If there’s music, I try to tie certain moves to certain beats or strong notes in the music, as ways of reminding myself that the second cymbal is a turn or that when the drums come in the routine starts again. I’m a person that tries to tie every movement to something, whether it be a part of the music we’re dancing to, or if I imagine the action as doing something else. The concept of imagery is what helps me connect a routine, as I try to imagine each routine as a short video of different actions that flow into one another. The ideas of melting into the floor and “anti-taco” help me as a mover see each movement as mimicry of other concepts and actions.

    I see learning dance or movement as different than learning most other skills, as other skills typically have a “right” and “wrong” way of doing things. There can be some slight variations, but for the most part, the main idea is the same. On the other hand, in dance, there are so many more ways to learn the steps. MI is a great example of this, offering nine different intelligences that can all be incorporated into dance. Dancing gives much more room for innovation and exploration when it comes to learning new aspects of it.

  14. I went to a performing arts high school for a concentration in music (violin) and I often heard the academic based students say, oh how hard can it be to sit down and play the violin. What they didn’t see, however, was how long it took to master holding the bow, and placing the fingers in the right places to get desired pitches, etc–it was tough work. But, I used to say the same about dance: “oh, how hard can it be to have fun just turning and dancing?” But dance is just as hard as solving math or learning grammar–if not harder. With math and grammar, we can be masters in a few hours, or even minutes, but in dance it takes patience and dedication. It takes readjusting the body and mind to work together and do things that feel abnormal. Dance also incorporates mathematics when it comes to rhythms. Subdivision while dancing is a skill hard to master. I like how Dominic worded the following: “Dancing gives much more room for innovation and exploration when it comes to learning new aspects of it.” I agree with him completely. Math is one thing and one thing only–that’s why it’s easy. But, dance is like literature, because there is no right or wrong, it requires brains to decode desired effects, etc.

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