Learning to dance can be a unique process for each student because not everyone learns in the same way or at the same pace. When learning any new skill, in a particular dance, there are different stages in the process that every student experiences. The “Stages of Learning” refers to the physiological and mental process that a person must go through to remember new information. Learning a physical activity like dancing requires the coordination of both mental and physical faculties.
These are the four stages of learning:
- The Initial Learning Stage: The introduction of the skill or step. At this point in the learning process, the student does not yet know what they are capable of learning. Beginning with the basics, the student’s mind is now open to their potential as they begin learning the steps and skills it will take to continue their growth. The student is often very optimistic in this stage because they usually are unaware of how inexperienced they actually are.
- The Awkward Use Stage: The student now has increased awareness, feels awkward and may frequently experience difficulty. Now that the student is regularly utilizing some of the basics, they become aware of their own unnatural use of the new things they are learning. These new steps and moves have not yet become natural but the progress still continues. This stage can be hard on a new student’s self-confidence because they are now aware of the process and aware of their level of inexperience, especially if they’re comparing themselves with a student who has been dancing longer than they have. With more practice, the student will then enter the conscious use stage.
- The Conscious Use Stage: The student is now able to perform a step or skill more easily, however, it must be thought through while being executed. Whether it’s counting in their head, visualizing their instructor doing the same movement etc., it takes a second thought! Now that the student has some new steps under their belt and knows what to do with them, they are more confident in their ability and able to see how they’ve progressed. Putting what they’ve learned in their lesson becomes easier, but not without having to consciously think about each step.
- The Natural Use Stage: The step or skill is now done with ease and is spontaneous, comfortable and creative. This is when dancing becomes effortless to the student and they no longer have to reflect back to the sequence they previously learned from an instructor. Dancing is now natural! This stage is achieved only through continued practice and time. It is not to say that the learning ever stops, but the student is now confident enough in their knowledge and practice to dance without thinking about every step along the way.
No matter what stage you may be at in your learning to dance, it is important to keep pressing forward. Some of these stages are easier to push past than others based on student’s level of confidence, but the outcome is always a reward when you don’t give up!
Live, Love, Dance and Enjoy!
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