Degrees of freedom

In motor learning I learned this interesting idea: as a person is learning a new movement they don’t have the attentional capacity to keep track of and control all of the moving parts. Instead they’ll focus on some portion that they deem important and “freeze the other degrees of freedom” leading to movement that is not the most efficient, but capable of being attended to. As we learn more, some parts of the movement can become grooved in and require less attention. We call this reaching automaticity. Ideally once automaticity on one portion of the movement happens the other degrees of freedom are opened up and we can work on that portion. I feel like the Jazz Lindy Hop Steps Made Easy series takes advantage of this idea quite a lot. Once you are comfortable with one layer, another layer is added.

I fear that sometimes it takes a lot of self awareness to notice when a person has stopped halfway through the process. They’ve gotten some part of the movement automatic, but they haven’t gone back and worked on the other degrees of freedom. I see this most common in leaders. They are so concerned with how to get a follow to do a move that they concentrate very much on their arms, shoulders and chest. Once they’ve got that down, they are confident with their move, but forget to dance themselves.


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Filed under blues dance, following, leading, learning

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