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The Story Behind Muscle Memory

February 28, 2018

 

 

You might recall the phrase “Practice makes perfect.” That phrase relates to muscle memory, considering practice means repetitive actions. Your muscles don’t remember the movement, but your brain does. Memory is the process of taking in new knowledge by learning new information, resulting in the changes in your behaviour because of an increase of understanding and skill (Hebert, 2018). Dancers can somehow memorise a wide variety of steps, technique, and styles, doing each combination so flawlessly and amazingly, with no problem! Dancers like me first learn the choreography, add in key details and extension, then dance it out repetitively to the point where it feels automatic in our bodies. When dancing repetitively, it leaves the brain to focus on different movements, like hitting a picture clearer. According to neuroscientists, the movements become mapped in the brain, creating a shorthand between thinking and doing (Solway, 2007). Basically, the more you repeat the movement, the faster your brain starts to connect and click with the movement. Also, muscle memory works when information is learned. The senses are carried through the body to the brain by sensory neurons, which are carried across synapses, creating a connection between the nerve cells, through neurotransmitters and electrical signals, resulting in cellular modifications across networks of neurons (Hebert, 2018). Remembering something causes these neural networks in our brain to reactivate, strengthen connections, and to be able to recall easier. The many ways I got myself to gain muscle memory in dance was by practicing and repeating at least two-eight counts at a time. I try to master and memorise the first two-eight counts of a routine to get the hang of it. Once I’m comfortable with the choreography I add in another two-eight counts. It can get very frustrating not being able to pick up on choreography quickly, but being patient is a big part to muscle memory. It takes time to build up muscle memory, it took me between a span of 2-3 years to feel confident on taking routines to the next level, but I still make mistakes. Lastly, be consistent! The more you practice, the better the results you will get (Raczynski, 2017). Don’t just give up - if you keep screwing up, keep practicing!

 

 

Hebert, C. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2018, from

http://www.thedancecurrent.com/feature/movement-memory

 

Raczynski, M. (2017, July 3). Retrieved January 29, 2018, from

https://www.princepsdance.uk/single-post/how-to-develop-muscle-memory-as-a-dancer-

marcin-raczynski

 

Solway, D. (2007, May 28). How the body (and mind) learns a dance. Retrieved January 29,

2018, from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/28/arts/28iht-dance.html?module=ArrowsNav&contentCollection=Arts&action=keypress®ion=FixedLeft&pgtype=article

 

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