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Author Topic: The beginner lead's dilemma  (Read 1541 times)
cornutt
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« on: February 28, 2010, 09:56:57 PM »

I pulled this quote over from the "perfect follower" thread.  I wanted to address the question that drj asked, but it was going OT to that thread, so here's a new thread for it.

"mis-follows" is an excellent term. thank you for it.  And just for me, can you explain *why* you can't teach a beginning lead "far more"? It seems to me that an integrated approach to teaching beginners, rather than piecemeal, might produce a different kind of leader. I know that my instructor has from day one tried to give me all the tools, not just some of them. Some, I was prepared to learn; the rest, I have gradually added over time in a series of light-bulb moments that produce those quantal shifts of which ee is so fond. But he never dumbed down for me, even though as a beginner I was a marginally sentient bag of road salt. Can the same be done for leaders?

Well, I will agree with you that the sequence in which beginning leads are usually taught needs to be re-thought.  However, the problem with teaching beginning leads is the sheer amount of stuff that they have to learn before they can dance anything at all -- even a basic rumba box on Friday night.  Between learning to lead, learning their own parts, learning to recognize the rhythm of the different types of music, and remembering a few steps, leads can get mentally saturated to the point where muscle memory doesn't have a chance to develop.  And that hinders the lead's progress. 

For a lead who intends to be a serious competitive dancer, it would be better for them to learn all about frame, movement, and posture before they begin to dance with a partner.  But that could take months, and for someone whose aspirations aren't towards high-level competition, it's an intolerable amount of time before they can dance at a social.  This becomes acute with beginning couples.  It's already the case that the follow will be ready for social dancing weeks before the lead is.  We see this at our studio all the time: a couple comes in and starts taking lessons.  After a few lessons, they start going to socials, and she makes progress rapidly, while he's bogged down in the usual beginner-lead issues.  This goes on for several months, and the guy starts to feel like a doofus because his SO is so much better than he is at this point.  And then, just before he would have reached the point where it starts to come together for him, he quits.
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elisedance
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ee


« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2010, 10:36:24 PM »

But why either or?  You could learn social dancing while you are learning the fine arts of lead-follow, almost as a separate discipline.
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Dora-Satya Veda
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« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2010, 01:22:56 AM »

But why either or?  You could learn social dancing while you are learning the fine arts of lead-follow, almost as a separate discipline.

I agree ee. When I was taught it was not either or. I didn't know it was possible to separate until I moved to the US and realized they believed the distinction between social and competitive dancing was like two different planets in different solar systems.

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elisedance
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« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2010, 04:58:40 AM »

Its not quite that drastic - and very regional.  When I lived in MD the two were very much intertwined, sure competetive dancers were resented on some social floors but many competetive studios also had the best social dances.  There you would always be asked to dance by an excellent trained dancer.  Indeed, the leads had it as a matter of pride that they could dance with any woman who walked in the door...

Wish I could see that here...

This needs its own topic...
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QPO
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« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2010, 06:26:59 AM »

I think it depends on the level of instruction you receive at the beginning. we start in a place that only provides basic and never went int the correct way of doing any step.

I think if you learn those things apart, together (if you know what I mean) then when you come together then you know the jobs you have to do. If you are not taught the jobs, then working together is much harder.
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cornutt
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« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2010, 11:28:27 AM »

But why either or?  You could learn social dancing while you are learning the fine arts of lead-follow, almost as a separate discipline.

Because of the problem of the student learning, or being taught, bad habits early in the process.  Instructors conventionally try to avoid this by teaching simplified versions of the correct techniques early on.  My view on that is that it is at best a mixed bag; there still winds up being a lot of stuff that has to be re-learned, and muscle memory that has to be torn down and rebuilt, later on.  I point at my own experience with bolero.  I learned the side-to-side form originally, and I got fairly good at it.  Then I switched to the twisting style.  It took me six months and some pretty intense lessons to get to where I felt comfortable doing bolero again.  Although I'm glad I did it now, it was a pretty frustrating experience. 
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ttd
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« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2010, 12:30:13 PM »

Maybe it's regional, but I think there is also the fact that social dancing in US is often something couples take up together to fill up their life once their kids left home. A typical social couple is normally at least in their late 40s, or even older, depending on how many kids they had and how old they were when they had them, and their main goal is to do something fun together with their spouse. Also, for them dancing is just one of possible ways to spend their free time and if it gets boring or frustrating, they're less likely to continue. So in this situation I can see how a) it is a problem to have uneven progress for the halves of the couple b) things get simplified so that a couple can get to the point where they can actually dance at a party and have fun asap. It makes sense from business perspective, but unfortunately it brings down the overall quality of social scene.
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elisedance
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« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2010, 12:35:11 PM »

Maybe it's regional, but I think there is also the fact that social dancing in US is often something couples take up together to fill up their life once their kids left home. A typical social couple is normally at least in their late 40s, or even older, depending on how many kids they had and how old they were when they had them, and their main goal is to do something fun together with their spouse. Also, for them dancing is just one of possible ways to spend their free time and if it gets boring or frustrating, they're less likely to continue. So in this situation I can see how a) it is a problem to have uneven progress for the halves of the couple b) things get simplified so that a couple can get to the point where they can actually dance at a party and have fun asap. It makes sense from business perspective, but unfortunately it brings down the overall quality of social scene.

I agree with you but just want to avoid the possibility that someone might think that lat 40s is over the hill dance wise.  I started (serious) ballroom in my late 40s - it was just shy of my early 50s actually Shocked  Wink
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ttd
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« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2010, 12:13:55 PM »

I agree with you but just want to avoid the possibility that someone might think that lat 40s is over the hill dance wise.  I started (serious) ballroom in my late 40s - it was just shy of my early 50s actually Shocked  Wink

There are always exceptions, obviously. And sometimes you can even have an empty-nester couple get into it with a more serious attitude than "we want to do something fun on Friday nights". But that's not a typical case.
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elisedance
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« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2010, 01:06:08 PM »

I agree with you but just want to avoid the possibility that someone might think that lat 40s is over the hill dance wise.  I started (serious) ballroom in my late 40s - it was just shy of my early 50s actually Shocked  Wink

There are always exceptions, obviously. And sometimes you can even have an empty-nester couple get into it with a more serious attitude than "we want to do something fun on Friday nights". But that's not a typical case.
I'm not sure that it isn't.  Least here.  I wonder if you would find a larger fraction of young dancers doing competition than of old ones.  Not sure at all - in both cases its microscopically small.
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Some guy
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« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2010, 01:51:28 PM »

One year ago, I would've agreed whole heartedly about the dilemma, but I realize that over the course of last year, the only thing that changed was my paradigm.  A quantal shift if you will.

DSV, I found it really interesting when you said that it was only in the U.S. that you learned that all the pieces could be taken apart and taught separately.  I've been taught the piecemeal way for years before I started taking lessons from your sister.  I think we need to stop making excuses for the current system of teaching (and learning) and consider a paradigm shift.  

I learned piecemeal for years.  I was taught that I can only focus on one thing, and after a few years when I can stop making it look awkward, I can go on to the next piece.  At my rate, I was estimating a minimum of 30-years before I could look like a decent social dancer, let alone a competitor.  I found it interesting that 30-years coincides with most mortgage plans.

When DSV's sister showed me how a singular action and focus creates all these little elements that are taught piecemeal over here, that is when it really sunk in that dancing is a bit like speed skating.  Yes, when you strap the skates on first, you're hugging the walls, but when you start to stride out on your own, then you're able to skate along just fine.  After a few months you'll be comfortable doing it, nice posture, easy movement, etc.  The more you do it, the faster and more comfortable you get at it, but even when you're in the early stages and just gliding along, there's nothing really wrong with your technique, posture, what your body is doing etc.  So it's quite easy to go skating with your friends 'cause nobody is trying to break any speed records.  That to me is "social dancing".  Everything is still correct, just not maximized to it's maximum stride.  Your lead is correct, your movement is correct, your technique, frame, posture, everything is nice and correct.  When you start to break speed records, that's what I like to call "competitive dancing".  

After you learn it whole, then you can take it apart piecemeal all you want.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2010, 02:31:23 PM by Some guy » Logged
Some guy
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« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2010, 01:56:58 PM »

Well, considering that it only takes minutes to lace up the skates, and then a few months to get comfortable on the ice, I don't think age is an issue.  I just saw a 50+ yr old Canadian pro take my partner for a spin around the floor.  She not only looked better than she ever has, she looked better than most girls I've ever seen on a dance floor.  The fact he used zero muscle (didn't even so much as breathe hard) to do it tells me that age has nothing to do with it.  To me age would only matter if something were physical.
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ttd
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« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2010, 02:03:26 PM »

I agree with you but just want to avoid the possibility that someone might think that lat 40s is over the hill dance wise.  I started (serious) ballroom in my late 40s - it was just shy of my early 50s actually Shocked  Wink

There are always exceptions, obviously. And sometimes you can even have an empty-nester couple get into it with a more serious attitude than "we want to do something fun on Friday nights". But that's not a typical case.
I'm not sure that it isn't.  Least here.  I wonder if you would find a larger fraction of young dancers doing competition than of old ones.  Not sure at all - in both cases its microscopically small.
This probably deserves its own thread but my observation/experience is that there are larger am/am fields for younger group, and larger pro-am fields for older group because pro-am is expensive and younger adults typically just don't have that kind of money yet. And there is a gap in the middle, because 30-somethings are more likely to have young children which prevent them from dancing at all.
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Dora-Satya Veda
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« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2010, 07:48:53 PM »

DSV, I found it really interesting when you said that it was only in the U.S. that you learned that all the pieces could be taken apart and taught separately.  I've been taught the piecemeal way for years before I started taking lessons from your sister.  I think we need to stop making excuses for the current system of teaching (and learning) and consider a paradigm shift. 

I am glad to hear that you learned that there is another way.

Quote
I learned piecemeal for years.  I was taught that I can only focus on one thing, and after a few years when I can stop making it look awkward, I can go on to the next piece.  At my rate, I was estimating a minimum of 30-years before I could look like a decent social dancer, let alone a competitor.  I found it interesting that 30-years coincides with most mortgage plans.

Yes, I also found that time frame very interesting. Wink

Quote
When DSV's sister showed me how a singular action and focus creates all these little elements that are taught piecemeal over here, that is when it really sunk in that dancing is a bit like speed skating.  Yes, when you strap the skates on first, you're hugging the walls, but when you start to stride out on your own, then you're able to skate along just fine.  After a few months you'll be comfortable doing it, nice posture, easy movement, etc.  The more you do it, the faster and more comfortable you get at it, but even when you're in the early stages and just gliding along, there's nothing really wrong with your technique, posture, what your body is doing etc.  So it's quite easy to go skating with your friends 'cause nobody is trying to break any speed records.  That to me is "social dancing".  Everything is still correct, just not maximized to it's maximum stride.  Your lead is correct, your movement is correct, your technique, frame, posture, everything is nice and correct.  When you start to break speed records, that's what I like to call "competitive dancing". 

There are many different things you can compare it to, like a child learning to walk, the person learning to drive and many, many more. I do like the one you came up with using the speed skating for your comparison.

Quote
After you learn it whole, then you can take it apart piecemeal all you want.

Yes, totally agree. Don't take apart the plant until you have at least enjoyed the flower.

DSV
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elisedance
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« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2010, 09:55:47 PM »

...but once the plant is grown, you can eat of the fruit Wink
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