Tips for Learning Dance Routines

Nail your audition with quick tips for learning choreography

Ballet instructor demonstrating position for students
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One of the most important skills for a new dancer is being able to learn the steps of dance routines. Not many people realize how much brain and memory ability is required for becoming a successful dancer. Not only must a dancer be able to execute several dance steps, he or she must also be able to remember the steps in a set order. The ability to learn dance routines quickly is usually a prerequisite for dance auditions. Directors and choreographers prefer dancers who are able to catch on fast.

The following four tips will help you learn how to quickly memorize dance routines.

Know Your Steps

Every dance routine can be broken down into a series of familiar steps and combinations. Good dance instructors make an effort to instill core skills in introductory classes, urging students to learn both the step as well as the name of the step. If you are familiar with the steps in the routine, the faster you will be able to combine them together to memorize a routine. For example, if you are going to a ballet audition, it helps to brush up on the following: basic ballet steps, pirouette, and ballet positions.

Get Used to Learning Steps in Sequences

Choreography is generally taught in a series of step combinations. Watch your dance instructor closely as he or she demonstrates the steps. Good dance teachers will stand in front of the class and demonstrate each step slowly.

Wait until the teacher has completely finished demonstrating before trying the steps yourself. Some dancers follow right along with the instructor, mimicking the steps as they are demonstrated. If you fail to watch first, you risk missing part of the step. It is better to watch first, then try.

If your instructor only teaches verbally without actually performing the steps, you may want to look for a new instructor.

Understand the Music

Dance usually combines movements with music. When a choreographer creates a dance routine, the chosen music selection is vital to the success of the dance. A piece of music is often selected because it possesses certain beats and tempo changes. Listen closely to the music. Try to find the beat and mentally associate the steps along with the rhythm or lyrics of the song. Remember those step combinations are often repeated each time the chorus of a song is played.


As with any new skill, practice makes perfect. Do not be too hard on yourself if it seems to take you a little longer than others to learn the choreography of a dance routine. Your ability to learn routines quickly will improve over time, as your mind will grow accustomed to forming associations.

Practice will bring about improvements in all areas of your dancing, which will make it easier to learn complicated step combinations. The more comfortable you are with the steps, the easier it will be to link them together in your mind.