Empathic Dance Training
What is "empathic dance training"?
The idea of empathic dance training is to train in a way that one can experience, for a moment in time, the way another person moves.
The process is simple:
Step 1: Choose the move
Choose a video of a dancer (or dance couple) that inspires you.
Choose a 10-15 second sequence from that video.
Step 2: Learn it fast
Aim to learn the move in 5 minutes or less, if it takes longer than 5 minutes to learn, choose a different move.
Refer back to the video frequently rather than trying to figure out the movement intellectually.
Refrain from providing any feedback to your partner. (I often choose to do this process silently so I can focus fully on my own movement.)
Step 3: SELF-Analysis
Film yourself performing the movement using the same music from the video. The music and rhythm is an important part of the empathic process. (We sometimes will choose to wear similar shoes or clothes to get closer to embodying the same movement and energy of the movement we are trying to experience.)
Watch your film and compare to the initial video. During this time, some basic discussion can happen, but there is always the risk that the focus can shift from yourself over to focusing on someone else. (I only observe my partner in the video so I can figure out how to do my own movement better. I don't focus on my partner's improvement whatsoever.)
Step 4: Iterations
Repeat Steps 2 and 3 until you are no longer want to develop the movement further that day.
Caney and I may repeat 3 times or sometimes up to 10+ times depending on what we are able to observe and change.
Step 5: Note taking
Take screenshots of the specific point in the video that are crucial to remember for future development. We usually take 3 screenshots.
Write above each screenshot a very basic note to help you remember what needs to be worked on next time you look at the movement.
Sometimes, we may want to make a specific request to our partner. In this situation we carve out time consciously to be able to discuss the requests (using the NVC method "all forms of communication are forms of please and thank you").
How is this different than regular training?
Often people will never film themselves and when they finally see themselves they are quite surprised.
Most people casually learn other movements, and integrate them into their own way of moving; however when you try to move like someone else, especially a professional dancer, it is a truly humbling experience.
Usually people take classes to learn how to move, relying on another person to identify their "mistakes" and correct them. In this process, it is purely an introspective process, meaning that one needs to use their own insight to figure it out.
What is the result?
So far, we've found that even with small time investment (1.5 hrs of training once a week) people can learn to move in new ways. With double or triple that time, the ability to completely transform one's dancing is evident. However, this method's intensity might not resonate with everyone, especially those more socially inclined during training sessions 😜.