Science Finds The Best Way To Learn Beyoncé's "Partition" Dance

Illustrated by Gabriela Alford.
So, you were inspired by one of Beyoncé's many amazing dances, huh? Maybe you turned to one of the thousands of relevant YouTube tutorials or perhaps even tried out a Beyoncé-themed workout class. Is this all a silly waste of your time? Or will you actually gain any semblance of Bey-quality moves? New research investigating the most effective ways to learn a dance sequence suggests: There is hope.
In the small study, published recently in the journal Cognitive Processing and presented at the conference of the German Society for Cognitive Science, researchers tried out different teaching methods on 18 dance students and monitored their progress with a high-tech motion-capture system.
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First, the students were presented with two new dance sequences: one via a demonstration video (which they watched five times) and the other through listening to audio descriptions five times. Shortly after that, the participants' attempts to perform the dances were recorded. Next, the students were shown the other learning demonstration, this time twice. Again, the participants' performances were recorded. Then, 10-13 days later, 13 of the students showed up for a surprise retention test (video, in English and German, can be seen here).
Results showed that when the students were working with only one demonstration mode, the visual information helped them reproduce the dances more accurately than the audio (duh). But, they did better after having both visual and auditory information than when working with just one or the other. When the performances were rated on "artistic quality," however, having only one type of demonstration (either audio or visual) was equally effective as having both. Considering that we tend to think of dance as a visual medium, this is kind of surprising.
So, if you're going for straight-up accuracy, go ahead and watch that video a hundred times. But, if you're simply trying to capture the "artistic" spirit of Bey's movements, there doesn't seem to be a wrong way to go about it. Confidence, it appears, is your keyword. As it should be.
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