Setting Up a Deliberate Practice

I listened to another interview with K. Anders Ericsson, which reinspired me to adapt his ideas to my belly dance practice. However, I quickly realized there’s a reason why I hadn’t done this over the past 15 days – after signing up for the Peak Project: I had no clue how! The interviews make the case for why a deliberate practice is important but didn’t give me enough ideas on how to actually develop one. Instead of letting this stop me again, I decided to research this more. At first I tried to find Ericsson’s 1993 article that’s mentioned a few times in the Inquiring Minds interview. Hoping they’d have a link in the episode notes, I ventured over there. I got sidetracked by looking for ideas on how to add intervals to my walking (I found this). Then it was time for my slower walk to get in 10,000 steps. During that walk, I finished listening to the interview.

Once back home, I realized that I could search directly for ideas instead of trying to find Ericsson’s article. And that paid off! I found a blueprint and then an article that led me to Dance in a Year, which has some great ideas. My main take aways from all this: Practice daily (even if it’s only for 5 minutes), keep a journal, and videotape yourself. The last two are important ingredients for coaching ourselves, which is a nice way of describing learning from our mistakes. (And I stumbled on a post that links to Ericsson’s article…)

Applying all this to my belly dance practice, I’ve made the following practice plan:

  • Class or practice every day for a weekly total of 5-6 hours
  • On practice days, I will focus on drilling specific moves
  • I will keep a practice journal
  • And I’ll learn to videotape myself

For the next month, I plan to focus on chest circles, hip drops, side winder, 3/4 down shimmy, and body undulations (yeah, I know that doesn’t mean much to non-belly dancers…). During the drilling today, I’ve done the hard thing of slowing down whenever I noticed that I was not executing a move as well as I would like. I also dropped layers when one became messy. This is also part of deliberate practice: It’s not enough to put in the time. It’s important to watch for issues and then work on them.

Because I will be performing again at the end of June, I have also started practicing the choreographies. For that, I am going to check out some gadgets that allow me to break things apart and slow stuff down. Now I just have to figure out how to videotape myself, which literally means where to put the camera, so I actually tape what I am doing…

We’ll see how this all goes! Given that I am now working full-time, which zaps a lot of my energy, I might need to adjust this.

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