Struggling to remember all your choreography? Thankfully, just as there are ways to improve your stage presence and technique, you can improve your memory.

One proven strategy is the method of loci, an ancient mnemonic technique used by Greek and Roman orators and still practiced today. Also known as the memory palace, it involves memorizing a list of words by visualizing yourself walking around a familiar setting (such as your home) and placing a mental image representing each word in a specific spot.


For example, if you want to memorize a grocery list of apples, oranges and carrots, you might visualize an apple rolling off your kitchen windowsill, an orange clogging the sink and a rabbit chomping on a carrot on the counter. Later, return to the familiar setting in your mind, retrace your steps and retrieve the list of images that you left there earlier.

According to a recent study in the scientific journal Neuron, practicing this technique 30 minutes a day for six weeks can dramatically improve your memory. While it doesn't make sense to use loci to recall choreography in the moment, regularly taking a walk through your own memory palacecan improve your cognitive function enough that you'll never forget that last 8-count again.

Summer Intensive Survival
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There's a sweet spot toward the end of August—after summer intensives have wrapped up and before it's time to head back to school or work—where the days are long, lazy and begging to be spent neck-deep in a pile of good books. Whether you're looking for inspiration for the upcoming season or trying to brush up on your dance history, you can never go wrong with an excellent book on ballet. We've gathered eight titles (all available at common booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble) guaranteed to give you a deeper understanding of the art form, to add to your end-of-summer reading list.

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James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico warm up onstage. Angela Sterling, Courtesy SDC.

On a sunny July weekend, hundreds of Seattle-area dance fans converged on tiny Vashon Island, a bucolic enclave in Puget Sound about 20 miles from the city. They made the ferry trek to attend the debut performance of the fledgling Seattle Dance Collective.

SDC is not a run-of-the-mill contemporary dance company; it's the brainchild of two of Pacific Northwest Ballet's most respected principal dancers: James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico. The duo wanted to create a nimble organization to feature dancers and choreographers they felt needed more exposure in the Pacific Northwest.

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Roman Mejia in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

The Princess Grace Foundation has just announced its 2019 class, and we're thrilled that two ballet dancers—New York City Ballet's Roman Mejia and BalletX's Stanley Glover—are included among the list of über-talented actors, filmmakers, playwrights, dancers and choreographers.

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The Royal Ballet's Alexander Campbell and Yasmine Naghdi in Ashton's The Two Pigeons. Tristram Kenton, Courtesy ROH.

While most ballet casts are 100 percent human, it's not unheard of for live animals to appear onstage, providing everything from stage dressing to supporting roles. Michael Messerer's production of Don Quixote features a horse and a donkey; American Ballet Theatre's Giselle calls for two Russian wolfhounds; and Sir Frederick Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardee requires a white Shetland pony. Another Ashton masterpiece, The Two Pigeons, is well known for its animal actors. But though ballet is a highly disciplined, carefully choreographed art form, some performers are naturally more prone to flights of fancy—because they're birds.

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