Cultivating Analytical Thinking: 6 Steps of Effective Problem Solving

Are your dancers eager to ask questions about choreography? Are you looking for strategies to elevate your dancer’s training, especially when they’re outside of their comfort zone? Well, you’re in the right place.

In this blog, we’ll walk through the 6 steps of effective problem-solving for dancers. Whether they’re taking a class at a convention, working with a guest choreographer, or at an audition, it’s extremely important that we empower dancers to utilize problem-solving methodologies while navigating obstacles and challenges.

1. Identify the Problem

I know this may seem obvious, but as humans, there’s a tendency to mislabel or misinterpret the situation. A dancer may ask themselves, “Am I speeding up the choreography because I don’t know the counts, or am I hearing the music differently?” This step also allows the dancer to re-center their mental energy amid frustration or confusion. Once they can identify the problem, they’ll become more motivated to find a solution.

2. Break It Down!

Now that the problem has been identified, it’s time to get to work. First things first – check the fundamentals. Is a technical fault causing the problem? Perhaps the dancer is turning the wrong way or picking up the wrong foot in their pirouette. This would be a great moment to observe the instructor or choreographer and seek clarity…which brings us to the next step!

3. Gather Data

If a technical mishap is not the solution, it’s time to gather more information. This can include contextual clues (spatial orientation), observation, and repetition. Hearing the music again, reviewing the counts, or watching the instructor demonstrate will offer more exposure and information regarding the problem.

4. Change Something Small

Sometimes, the solution to the problem is NOT grandiose, but instead a minuscule detail. This can look like slight shifts of weight that enable sharper pirouettes or taking bigger steps to arrive at the next formation on cue. This step is definitely easier said than done, but often times dancers chuckle when they realize that the solution was much simpler than they thought. We’ve all been there before!

5. Check What You Don’t Think is Relevant

All right, let’s say you’ve done steps 1-3 and still haven’t arrived at a solution. The next step is to examine the aspects that seem unrelated or irrelevant. At this point, the goal is to make sure all your bases are covered. For example, you may look at transitions and discover inconsistencies. Originally, the focus was surrounding the technical elements of the choreography or the counts, only to find that the culprit is the timing of the transition prior.

6. Ask For Clarity

Finally! It’s time to ask a well-informed and curated question. You may even find that a dancer answers their own question while talking through it out loud. In the instance that the instructor or choreographer doesn’t provide a straightforward answer to your question, I would encourage repeating the steps using the information you received.

Here’s to building curious and analytical dancers!