Introductory Blog Post – Muscle Memory in Dance

Rhea R -

Rhea Rajesh: Introductory Blog Post


Welcome all! This will be a blog dedicated to tracking my progress on my Senior Project, “How Long does it take for Muscle Memory to be Activated in a Dance Routine?”

A brief summary of my project and goals:

Ever wonder how you can still remember parts of that school dance routine from 5 years ago? With enough repetitions, the human body automatically adapts to the motions and stores the motor information for later use. Muscle memory serves as the primary method that dancers effectively commit choreography to memorization and allows them to focus on adding on other elements such as facial expressions and energy that enhance their dancing and create a visual spectacle. 

Through my research, I aim to tackle the muscle memory process and research approximately how long it takes a dancer to commit a dance to memory. I will also take into account how long a dancer has been dancing, the age of the dancer, and the different styles of dance. I will survey my sample size to get a rough idea of these characteristics that pertain specifically to each person. I strive to teach a routine to my subjects and record their learning process, including the amount of time it takes to ingrain the choreography in muscle memory. This research can have practical applications to not only dance but also fields such as physical therapy or playing an instrument. It may be able to provide a rough estimate of recovery time or practice hours required to optimize the quality of performance. My goal is to determine the best estimate of time needed to advance dance skills that can be tailored to different performers factoring in unique characteristics in order to help a dancer improve their abilities in learning, performance and beyond. 


Missing out on the window to attend professional dance lessons as a child and only later discovering my passion for dancing, I thought it was much too late for me to reach the level I desired. However, with enough practice and repetition of my favorite music video choreographies on YouTube, I was able to commit the moves to memory and train my body to tremendously improve over time. Even now, as I revisit those dances from 3 years ago, I am still able to successfully replicate the movements as I did back then. My muscle memory has strengthened as I experience a positive association between the amount of repetitions I do and the effectiveness in which I am able to remember choreography. Determining this approximate amount of practice in which muscle memory can prove most effective can push those who aspire to dance to performing with confidence and joy. 

  • Rhea 🙂

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    Rhea - Your curiosity to discover a timeline for muscle memory is an interesting approach for the enhancement of practices for teaching and learning choreography. Can you share your intended methods for the collecting of and organization of data? I am ecstatic to witness you conduct purposeful research in something you love - dance. Super cool.
    Alana Rothschild
    This research could possibly expand into other areas of memory which makes it even more interesting. In your opinion, would it be harder to make some changes to a dance that you already know through muscle memory or starting a new one from scratch? I can't wait to learn what you discover through your research!
    Hello! I have two intended methods for the collection of data; one is a survey for my dancers asking about their dance backgrounds and experience. The other is an observation of their learning process of choreography, adding facial expressions, relative level of comfort with the movements overall, how fast they link one move to another and whether it syncs up with the beat or is delayed or early.
    Hello Mrs. Rothschild!, In my opinion, and based on my personal experience, it might be easier to just start a whole new dance from scratch, because usually muscle memory is formed as a sequence of different movements strung together, so by altering existing choreography already in the memory it's sort of like "breaking" that sequence and adding something that needs more practice to get used to. I hope that makes sense :)
    Hiya, Rhea. At what frequency will you meet with dancers? How will you measure “relative comfort” and how will you measure and document time? Keep up the great work.

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