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Author Topic: 'analytical' or 'aware' - which is the best way to learn?  (Read 5078 times)
elisedance
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« on: April 13, 2009, 11:19:06 AM »

Most people in NA learn ballroom by first doing steps.  Once they discover that that does not actually make them dance they then learn more parts - heel-toe, 'CBM' rise and fall, swing, sway.  By the time you get to a routine there may is almost an infinite number of 'facts' taht one needs to know.  We are taught to get round these by puting them into 'muscle memory' - a nice term for conditioningn ourselves.  Nonehtheless, while the result can be effective and many couples do dance wonderfully following this course, its too often not perfectly coordinated, musical and is always prone to break apart if one partner makes an error in the myriad of learned pices.

On a different board far, far away this issue wasa raised with the question 'is there a better way?'

The result was both intereesting and polarizing and was discussed as a contrast between 'left brain' and 'right brain' type thinking.  Some (myself included) were astonished at the novel ideas and, frankly, even more amazed at the result for our learning.  I don't think that this answer worked for everyone but for those that it resonated it truly hit very, very deep and in some cases changed many other aspects of our lives outside dance.

So I'd like to revive the discussion here partly because I want to review it myself but mostly because I sspect there are others here that could benefit equally and that there is much yet to discover.

A title for such a thread is difficult to phrase - I hope the one I chose is adequate.
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Dora-Satya Veda
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2009, 01:24:43 PM »

I can give you an account on how many students in northern Europe are taught to dance. I know that many European trained top dancers are trained this way. My teacher used to say that it is the fastest way to get good. Now, not everybody wants to get good fast, so this may not work for you, if you like the scenic route. I was put on “the fast track” from day one and didn’t know there was any other way, until I retired and learned to teach. My teacher told me that there was different ways to learn to dance and that each way had their value. He said that one way was for “the doing” namely dancing competitions, social dancing, shows and practice, the other way was for “the knowing” and would make the student able to write papers, books and/or do lecture. Once I retired I was trained to understand and be able to teach both methods. I mostly train students that want to compete, do social dancing or shows, so I do more of “the doing” teaching then “the knowing” teaching. I have only ever had one student that wanted me to spend hour/day/months/years writing down all the ins and outs, principles and rules for dancing. A job I am still working on, even after 7 years of writing down several decades of knowledge.

In Europe, they also learn steps first. You do need to have some form of format from which you can build, foundation so to speak. These step combinations are often called “Golden Routines”. Each teacher has different “Golden Routines” but they are all similar, in that they include the basic steps that are danced all the way to and through open. Steps that are not used often (some would call them “outdated”) are not included in these routines. Many of the basic principles like… heel-toe, 'CBM' rise and fall, swing, sway are then taught but only in the manner of planting seeds (not too much detail is given). This should not take more then about a year with regular lessons. After the first initial way of learning the “the doing” way of learning then starts. This way of learning is basically based on the way children learn to stand, walk and then run. All actions in dancing are referred to actions done in everyday life. Drills are introduced that you do to condition the body to do what it needs to do without conscious thought. Many compare it to the idea of learning to drive a car. At first everything is very overwhelming but soon you get to a point where you are not even consciously aware how you get from point A to B let alone how you got to C.

My teacher use ideas, concepts, principle and rules that are as important in “real” life as they are in dancing. I learned that the more I used the dance ideas the better everything in life got and visa versa. My life was changed in manner I couldn’t even have imagined. I still to this day use everything I learned in both my “dancing life” as well as my “real” life. To me, life and dance is one and the same. Life is a dance (on roses) and dancing is life (relationship to self, partner, others and space). My grandfather used to say that, a great way to get higher enlightenment is to dance towards it. I can say this; my life was change for the better, forever. Smiley

To answer the question, I will have to first ask why do you dance and what do you want to achieve from it?   


Sorry I got a little carried away. Wink Grin

Dora-Satya Veda
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"As we understand more things, everthing is becoming simpler"

Edward Teller
cornutt
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2009, 04:18:29 PM »

Most people in NA learn ballroom by first doing steps.  Once they discover that that does not actually make them dance they then learn more parts - heel-toe, 'CBM' rise and fall, swing, sway.  By the time you get to a routine there may is almost an infinite number of 'facts' taht one needs to know.  We are taught to get round these by puting them into 'muscle memory' - a nice term for conditioningn ourselves.  Nonehtheless, while the result can be effective and many couples do dance wonderfully following this course, its too often not perfectly coordinated, musical and is always prone to break apart if one partner makes an error in the myriad of learned pices.


I just made a post on the other routine-learning thread about this.  Maybe it's a matter of semantics, but I don't think of muscle memory as rote repitition of a routine, and my own muscle memory doesn't work that way.  I think of it more as an unconscious level of processing.  I can tell it "execute an open left", and (when things are going well) it does it while I listen to the music, think about my partner in my arms, check floorcraft, and decide what my next move is going to be. 

I like to compare it to the way the control computers on the Space Shuttlle operate the main engines.  A lot of people are surprised to find out how little the main computers have to do with the operation of the engines.  There are only a handful of commands that the main computers send to the engines: "start", "stop", "run at throttle setting xxx", a few others.  Processors in the engines themselves move the valves and worry about the temperatures and pressures and so forth.
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Dora-Satya Veda
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2009, 05:04:40 PM »

I do find it interesting that a baby only falls down an average of 264 times before walking. They come from having no concept of being upright and no conscious awareness of even being upright, to full walking in a very short time. Why does it take an adult, years to learn an open left turn, a natural turn, a rumba walk and a samba basic? Why can’t we as adults learn, at the same speed as a baby does? Are they that much more intelligent then we are? Or are they just more ready to learn and more open minded then an adult is?   

I firmly believe that adults can learn as fast as any child. Adults do need to adapt a child’s mind mindset of being totally open and free of past experiences, to learn really fast. I am sorry but I don’t see the necessity to anything a quadrazillion times to be able to do it well. I never did anything in dancing that many times and I did pretty well with what I did. Mind you I am really, really lazy.  I don’t like sweating or working hard in any way or form. I like to play and that was really all I did with my dancing. 

I have seen students and colleges from all over the world get to dance really well within a very short time. We are talking within a few years (5 years or less). I have even heard of some getting it within a year, even though that is in rare cases.

Just recently a couple of friends on mine have seen tremendous change in their dancing with just a change of mindset. They didn’t change anything physically to start with, even though the physical did change as a result of it. All they did was change, how they looked at dancing and life. They adapted a child’s mind into their dancing and into their way of learning.       

Sorry if I am rocking a few boats here

Dora-Satya Veda
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"As we understand more things, everthing is becoming simpler"

Edward Teller
Some guy
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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2009, 05:46:26 PM »

For a long time I became my own worst nightmare: a "benchmark" on the dance floor, a level at which people saw me dance at but never improve.  Just a change in mindset brought on by one of the most powerful people I ever met changed my life for good (you know who you are  Wink

The other day I was thinking about all the coaches I knew that used left-brained teaching techniques: the ones that taught me how many degrees my feet had to be turned out compared to my hips, how many pounds-per-square inch of pressure to exert on the ball of my right foot on count "1", etc. (okay, so I'm exaggerating a little).  As it turns out, NONE OF THEM learned it that way.  None!  The reason they teach it that way is because they're trying to explain what they do and how they do it.   Most of them were taught as kids, and nearly all of them were taught how to "walk" first, and eventually they figured out how to "run" with what they knew leading them to grow as dancers. 

I think the key is that there's a BIG difference between explaining to someone what you're doing, versus teaching someone how to do it.  There's a time and a place for each approach, but more importantly, there's a unique purpose for each.  Almost coincidentally, the ones that I've come to regard as the best "teachers" never bother with the "explanation".  Like someone I highly regard once said,  students are on a "need-to-know" basis.  Only one or two teachers I've met have realized the difference between teaching and explaining, and even fewer have realized the unique purpose of each.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2009, 05:55:13 PM by Some guy » Logged
Some guy
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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2009, 06:07:20 PM »

I know my post will offend some, sadly, but I would like to add that what I said is my experience and my opinion, and you're completely free to disagree with it.  [transferring all power to shields!] Cool 
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Dora-Satya Veda
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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2009, 07:33:13 PM »

For a long time I became my own worst nightmare: a "benchmark" on the dance floor, a level at which people saw me dance at but never improve. 

I found the same in my dancing. I was also my own worst nightmare. I didn't think a lot, but my teachers still complaint that I was thinking way too much. One of my teachers would often (almost every time) tell me to work less and when I did, she would compliment me on my dancing. I would often protest and say "but I am not doing anything" she would then smile and say “exactly my point, but look at for you are moving”. She was of course right as we would be down the other end with only a few steps.

Quote
The other day I was thinking about all the coaches I knew that used left-brained teaching techniques: the ones that taught me how many degrees my feet had to be turned out compared to my hips, how many pounds-per-square inch of pressure to exert on the ball of my right foot on count "1", etc. (okay, so I'm exaggerating a little).  As it turns out, NONE OF THEM learned it that way.  None! 

Of all the teachers I had, there was only one that was going into all the little details. When we would then come back to our main teacher, he would always tell us it was time to dance and stop that thinking crap. All, the other teacher were all into the doing. I actually would sometime ask questions of my "dance" teachers and they would look at me like I had lost my marbles. I would then wait and ask my “theory” teacher and he would spend a 1 ½ talking about that one little issue and we never danced one single step. I do think there is a time and place for both dancing and talking. Talking for that long about one little issue does not help you get there fast when there are 200+ bones, 400+ muscles, one messed up brain and 8000+ rules of dance. I can tell you that of all the great dancers, that I have known in my time, they have all learned by doing not by thinking.

Quote
The reason they teach it that way is because they're trying to explain what they do and how they do it.   Most of them were taught as kids, and nearly all of them were taught how to "walk" first, and eventually they figured out how to "run" with what they knew leading them to grow as dancers. 

Most of them started finding out, what they did when the retired. They (including myself) were so proud of what they/I had done, that they/I had to tell the world. Our ego was growing so big that we (or many of us) forgot what we had really done to get there. I was lucky that my teacher caught that before I was send into the world to teach. He got me back to reality (back to earth) and taught me to teach his system. I still follow his system today.

Quote
I think the key is that there's a BIG difference between explaining to someone what you're doing, versus teaching someone how to do it.  There's a time and a place for each approach, but more importantly, there's a unique purpose for each.  Almost coincidentally, the ones that I've come to regard as the best "teachers" never bother with the "explanation".  Like someone I highly regard once said,  students are on a "need-to-know" basis.  Only one or two teachers I've met have realized the difference between teaching and explaining, and even fewer have realized the unique purpose of each.

I agree there I a very, very BIG difference between the two. I also agree there absolutely is a time and place for both, but not at the same time. My teacher never explained anything. I had to drag every piece of information I got out of him. His technical explanations always referred back to something you did/do in your everyday life. Nothing fancy at all, just pure, simple and beautiful. He was one of the teachers that believed that students should be on a need-to-know basis. Sure sounds like you Some Guy and I had the same teacher.

As I said earlier, most of the teachers that I had only taught the “doing way”. I would go as far as to say that 99% of my teachers taught that way and only 1% taught “the knowing” way.

Dora-Satya Veda

PS. Let me just do a disclaimer here. This is my opinion, my perception and mine alone. Feel free to disagree with me. I have no problem with that. Everybody has the right to think however they want. 

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"As we understand more things, everthing is becoming simpler"

Edward Teller
Dora-Satya Veda
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2009, 07:37:17 PM »

I know my post will offend some, sadly, but I would like to add that what I said is my experience and my opinion, and you're completely free to disagree with it.  [transferring all power to shields!] Cool 

I agree with you Wink

Dora-Satya Veda
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"As we understand more things, everthing is becoming simpler"

Edward Teller
Some guy
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2009, 08:04:56 PM »

Sure sounds like you Some Guy and I had the same teacher.

I believe YOU were the person that told me that students were on a "need to know basis".   Cool
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Blue Tango
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2009, 08:11:57 PM »

Mmmm... interesting points being brought up.

I can't say that I've been dancing forever, but my relatively short career has been broken into two parts in my mind.  I've always had a strong sense of the rhythm of the music, and often the figures would come easily to me.  Or rather they would come easily to something inside me.  There was a groove, so to speak, that my body could fall into and my teacher would be very happy with me.  Thing is that I couldn't always grab that groove, and also if anything happened to jump me out of the groove it was very difficult, if not impossible to get back into it.  This equates to the 'doing' phase that's being spoken of.  

Nowadays I'm really into the 'knowing' phase.  I cannot continue with my routines without knowing exactly what and why I'm doing them.  I spend hours on one routine, which is expensive by the way, just because I need to know what each figure needs to do.  And to be honest I really enjoy that technical part of my training.  And it has translated into my dancing being much improved.

You know what?  I couldn't have moved into the knowing phase without doing the doing phase.  My primary coach says something that I totally agree with:  sometimes you can't learn something till you're ready to learn it.  

And by the way, been at that 'benchmark' myself.  It can eat away at you...  Wink
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Some guy
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2009, 08:25:09 PM »

That's great that you are already in the "knowing" phase.  The fact that you're in the "knowing" phase and it's improving your dancing, despite your relatively short period of dancing, means that you're a very advanced dancer.  Some day I'll get there. 

I do agree that you have to first go through the "doing" phase.  The "knowing" phase makes things a little more interesting and fun.  It's like watching a movie and enjoying the events unfold only to be explained at the very end what the motives were behind the main characters that caused them to make the events unfold the way they did.  This always adds to the overall enjoyment of the movie.  However, I think my movie just started, and I have a lot more to enjoy before I'm ready to hear the motives and reasons for why things happened the way they did.
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Dora-Satya Veda
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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2009, 08:28:28 PM »

Sure sounds like you Some Guy and I had the same teacher.

I believe YOU were the person that told me that students were on a "need to know basis".   Cool

Really, I said that.  Wink  I think you might be right on that one  Grin Tongue

Dora-Satya Veda
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"As we understand more things, everthing is becoming simpler"

Edward Teller
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« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2009, 08:34:40 PM »

I have found that since we now have two coaches our dancing is changing. Not that the first coach was saying anything wrong or not giving good instruction, they were not able to offer us extra lessons due to time restraints.  We went to another coach as well and we love the fact the one offers us instruction in Standard and the other in New Vogue...Rather than trying to focus on too many things each one offers advice on the style they teach...which we can use for both styles...

We all learn differently and sometimes we need to have a change to review and revitalize.
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elisedance
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« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2009, 09:05:04 PM »

.....

You know what?  I couldn't have moved into the knowing phase without doing the doing phase.  My primary coach says something that I totally agree with:  sometimes you can't learn something till you're ready to learn it.  


My dancing has trasformed due to the same force referred to above (and likely to reply below Cheesy) form a person struggling to learn each particular action in order to put it together into a dance to one that learns to dance first. 

However, the very first step in my learning process my coach (and pro/am partner) demonstrates a step sequence and may point out a particular step feature; next I dance it and then I learn its details.  Thus, instead of dancing and then then later learning I do both in fairly rapid succession.

The absolute key thing here is: it depends on how your mind learns.  We discussed this elsewhere but it was pointed out that there are three ways of learning: visual, verbal and kinesthetic - the latter means 'acting it out'.  I took one of those on-line tests and found out that I am very kinesthetic so this way of learning may suit me particularly well.  It may not suit others.
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The limit of your love is also the limit of your art...
emeralddancer
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« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2009, 10:49:07 AM »

I know my post will offend some, sadly, but I would like to add that what I said is my experience and my opinion, and you're completely free to disagree with it.  [transferring all power to shields!] Cool 

Does not offend at all and totally get it.

My teacher/pro is between the 2 mindsets. Thankfully I have a mentor/mom who is helping me and eventually who I will drag my pro to so he can "get" it hopefully.

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It is more important who they are as people and only then is it important who they are as dancers.~Marcia Haydee
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