Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How To Dissect A Move

Dissecting a move is like dissecting a frog, you can do but afterwards it's dead. A move is the sum of all its components, leaving one component away changes the move. This poses a slight dilemma because in order to explain a move one often has to dissect it to highlight a certain property.

There are two main solutions to this dilemma. One solution is to increase the visibility of one component by exaggerating it. The other solution is to simplify the move by removing components either bit by bit or multiple ones right away. 


One of the upsides of exaggeration is that the move stays complete and thus the visual for students always stays complete. This is good because we know that the image we have in our mind is a factor when it comes to executing the move later on.
A downside to exaggerating is that it is sometimes impossible to increase one component without affecting others thus also increasing the visibility of another component alongside. This might blur what you actually want to highlight. For example if you want to point out that your upper body twists, your arms might swing bigger. Since the arms are extremities that are way easier visible, students might be thinking that bigger arm movement will do the job.
It is good to point out when you are exaggerating components so that students can put your movement into context.


Simplifying moves by removing components has as upside that their is less distraction around the factor you want to focus on. This makes this approach more effective than the first approach. As with many things, the implementation is the key to success. Try to simplify the move by leaving out the more obvious components. For example all mirrored movements can be simplified by doing the solo body movement first without partner, maybe even already during the warm-up. Or let's assume you are teaching a move that has a jump in it or an extra turn. Those two components are "obvious" components, because they are easily visible. Try teaching the simplified version without the jump or without the extra turn first. This way you gain twice, because you also have a variation this way that your students can use to differentiate and lead and follow better. 

The problem with this approach is that it creates a cognitive overload if you use it every time because there are two many components and you will not be able to teach this move. Another problem is when you implement it badly, in this case meaning taking away non-obvious components. The non-obvious is from the view point of students, not yourself. I've seen often that people remove rhythm first (e.g. when dancing slow), but very often rhythm is a key component and rhythm is most of the time a non-obvious component to students. If you give them a picture without rhythm you nurture this behavior. I strongly recommend to keep rhythm when simplifying moves. If you really need to take out rhythm, take out feet at the same time. This will keep them from practicing foot movement without rhythm. 

Keep in mind that you always have those two options and chose wisely between them. As a rule of thumb - utilize exaggeration when students are already doing what they are supposed to do, but not enough to make it work and utilize simplification when it is too difficult to separate only one component.