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Updated on October 13, 2014

Lai Rupe's Choreography

"When learning a dance routine, you must do more than simply watch the choreographer and follow along; You must submerse yourself in the dance, just as they intended."

~Lai Rupe

I have been dancing my entire life.

As a dancer you learn so many dance routines throughout your life. You will come to find that all dance choreographers teach very differently. Some teach super fast with lots of counts, others moderate in speed but all with "booms" and "hits," no counts. With the uniqueness and diversity each dance choreographer brings to the table, as a dancer, you want to be able to impress each one and pick up the choreography fast.

The faster you are able to learn choreography, the sooner you will be able to clean and perfect it, and the more of a leader you will be with your dance companies and teams.

In this article, Lai Rupe's Choreography will break down some of the best tricks and tips to help you learn dance choreography faster.

1. Focus on Counts

Providing your choreographer focuses on counts, you will want to pay attention to the counts they give. As they teach each part, make sure you know which dance move goes to each count. This will help you when you are dancing with the music to be able to count it in your head as well and know what to do.

Knowing a routine to specific counts, will also help make it much easier when cleaning the routine, or teaching it to another dancer.


2. Listen to Music "Hints."

It is very rare to find a choreographer that when choreographing to lyrics, does not intertwine the dance moves with the lyrics. For example, if the song talks about "a turn in the road", they may pirouette. It is important as a dancer to listen to the choreographer as they teach for these musical and lyrical hints.

Choreographers will always say something about why they chose a specific move, so pay attention to these clues. This will help you learn the choreography and the song faster.

"Seven Nation Army" Choreography by Lai Rupe

What Tips Help You Learn Choreography Faster?

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3. Dance Full Out

What too many dancers don't do, is dance full out, every time. Your body and mind are very connected and intelligent. As your body moves, your mind remembers the movements it makes, translating into muscle memory.

When you dance full out, your muscles remember this movement. Then when the song plays again and you go to dance, your body is going to remember what you did there the previous time and its first instinct will be to repeat those movements your muscles are beginning to remember. If you simply mark the movements each time, it makes it harder for your muscles to remember it and perform it. Though your brain may remember what to do, without that muscle memory, your body may not react in time to hit the movement on the correct count.

Dancing full out and giving 100% as you are learning is one of the most important keys to helping you learn choreography more quickly.


Bob Fosse - Choreography Legend


4. Ask, Ask, Ask Questions!

The last key to helping dancers learn choreography at a faster pace is to ask questions! Don't be afraid to confirm that what you are doing it right. The last thing you want to do as a dancer is learn the movements wrong.

Choreographers WANT you to ask questions, they want to know that you understand and like the movements they have created. Asking questions is the best way for your brain to confirm the movements you are learning and teaching to your body as you dance.


As a dancer, we know that learning choreography quickly is a huge benefit to have in the dance world. So many doors will be opened when you are able to learn the dance choreographer faster than the other dancers. Hard work will always pay off, and these learning tips will help you with this.

About the Author


Have any dance questions, concerns, or topics to discuss? Don't hesitate to reach out to Lai Rupe's Choreography. I am here to spread the beauty of dance.

Also, feel free to check out the article, "SUPER DANCE PERFORMANCE SECRETS" to help improve your dance performance.

Thanks for your LOVE and Support!

~Alaina (Lai) Rupe


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    • abrodech profile image

      Anya Brodech 3 years ago from 130 Linden St, Oakland, California, 94607

      I agree, dancing it full out, all the way really helps you learn it. If you just half ass it and shuffle around "dancing in your head," then you're not really learning the moves. It's when you're able to dance it all the way, full strength without hesitation that you know you know it.

      For me what helps most is just straight up repetition, and getting it into your muscle memory.

      Thinking wise, I just think about what comes after each step, like I know after I do this move, next I do this one, connecting each piece like beads on a string. For dances that travel a lot, I also find it helpful to keep track of and remember your orientation in the room. Like you start out facing the front of the room and then you do x amount of turn and face the back corner of the room and so on and so forth.

      There's a lot that goes into learning choreography, especially if you have to dance it by yourself! If you are dancing as a group or with a partner, it's super useful to remember where you are based on your orientation to to other people and to use your fellow dancers as a visual cue to help remind you where you are in the dance and what to do!