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Author Topic: Things you wish instructors would emphasize sooner  (Read 14013 times)
ZPomeroy
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Victoria, Australia


« Reply #105 on: November 01, 2009, 07:07:58 PM »

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Lioness
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« Reply #106 on: November 01, 2009, 07:12:17 PM »

Shall we get this thread locked then? Or just the off topic posts removed. He's already got two topics devoted to his opinion, a third isn't needed.
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Ginger
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I see what you did there.


« Reply #107 on: November 02, 2009, 01:30:58 AM »

They're speaking... and I'm agreeing...
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elisedance
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ee


« Reply #108 on: November 02, 2009, 02:42:51 AM »

Shall we get this thread locked then? Or just the off topic posts removed. He's already got two topics devoted to his opinion, a third isn't needed.

[This is an excellent topic and I am not going to lock it because someone is abusing the forum.  I would rather put a temporary ban on the poster for disrespect to other forum members.  I can delete content to keep it on-track - I just want there to be a trace for the other members to see the extent to which AB is abusing the forum.  If and when I do instigate a ban it will be painfully obvious to everyone why.  Eventually I will go back and delete the posts too.]
« Last Edit: November 02, 2009, 02:50:02 AM by elisedance » Logged

If you must leave the house, go build a home...

The limit of your love is also the limit of your art...
Lioness
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« Reply #109 on: November 02, 2009, 06:46:50 AM »

Shall we get this thread locked then? Or just the off topic posts removed. He's already got two topics devoted to his opinion, a third isn't needed.

[This is an excellent topic and I am not going to lock it because someone is abusing the forum.  I would rather put a temporary ban on the poster for disrespect to other forum members.  I can delete content to keep it on-track - I just want there to be a trace for the other members to see the extent to which AB is abusing the forum.  If and when I do instigate a ban it will be painfully obvious to everyone why.  Eventually I will go back and delete the posts too.]

Cool. I'm happy with that.
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elisedance
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ee


« Reply #110 on: November 02, 2009, 07:50:40 AM »

thanks
ee
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If you must leave the house, go build a home...

The limit of your love is also the limit of your art...
Some guy
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« Reply #111 on: November 02, 2009, 01:29:39 PM »

Wow!!  I missed all this!!!
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Dora-Satya Veda
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« Reply #112 on: November 02, 2009, 01:31:32 PM »

Wow!!  I missed all this!!!

That what happens when you sleep all weekend Wink
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"As we understand more things, everthing is becoming simpler"

Edward Teller
elisedance
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« Reply #113 on: November 02, 2009, 01:46:59 PM »

Wow!!  I missed all this!!!

....wish I had... Undecided
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If you must leave the house, go build a home...

The limit of your love is also the limit of your art...
Some guy
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« Reply #114 on: November 02, 2009, 01:59:25 PM »

That what happens when you sleep all weekend Wink

Guilty!  How'd you kn... never mind.  Embarrassed
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albanaich
Intermediate Bronze

Posts: 236


« Reply #115 on: November 03, 2009, 11:36:32 AM »

What I should have been taught about dancing and wasn't - some opinions that are open to challenge and criticism

Introduction

This essay is about my experiences (and they are my experiences, not anyone elses)  as a beginner dancer. It will I hope it useful to both teachers and other novices. My work means I travel the UK and Europe on business. As a result of this I have to take my dancing and my dance classes where I find them.  I have taken salsa classes in Germany, ballroom classes in Cumbria and Argentine tango classes in Ireland.  The result of this is that have not had a consistent pattern of classes.  It has however  enabled me to experience teaching methods of many leading teachers in a variety of different dance forms.

This piece is the distillation and my experience, and my views on how the teaching of dance can be improved. It's not meant definitive guids, its just a reflection of my experience - which is rather different to most people because the variety of teachers and dances I've been involved with.

1. Start with a beginner dance.

In Germany Discofox is often taught at an introduction to ballroom dancers. In the United Kingdom many dancers are introduced to dancing to Modern Jive. This is a good strategy. These dance give the novice feeling that they are progressing quickly, provide good framework for the teaching lead and follow, and a simple understanding of the need to hold the beat.

To do any partner dance well you need an understanding of lead and follow. While teachers usually emphasise this they often do not ensure that leaders in particular understand what their role is.

The beginner lead and follow invariably come to partner dance with the impression that they should be synchronising the movement to beat. The method of teaching is often one of showing the lead and follow steps or patterns which they work on together. While it is necessary it does give the wrong impression. It should be made clear that in the simple dancers like modern jive it is possible for the leader to lead the follow without the follow knowing the steps at all.

All fixed partnerships should be broken up in the early stages so leaders and follows can experience the qualities needed in lead and follow. It is especially important that leads should be led. Novice leaders often have issues with the physical contact needed to make a good lead. The breakthrough for me in my first few classes was when a strong female lead took me on the floor and said "you are too tentative this is how you lead". The soft or tentative lead is invariably the result of a beginner not knowing the amount of physicality required to lead well. If the leader is unaware that they are a tentative lead they persist in leading poorly - much to the annoyance of followers who continually complain of it.

Followers have the reverse problem. They must be taught to be passive and receptive to the lead. They must not anticipate. To that end it is important for them to realise that they must follow the lead and not the patterns on steps they have been taught. 

This is best done by letting them experience a strong lead who can put them through moves and patterns they have not encountered.

A problem often encountered with young women with considerable solo disco dance experience, is that of "noisy" arm and leg movement. When first encountered it gives the impression that the dancer has no rhythmi at all. There's a random apparently uncontrolled movement of the legs and arms while dancing. These dancers actually have a very strong sense of rhythm, but they have not learned to isolate it from the arms. They are moving their arms to keep time beat.  When the lead stops that movement their timing becomes confused. They should be encouraged to do their disco dancing in the home with their arms at their side in the style of Irish step dancers. It should also be made clear to them that they will be unable to receive the lead if they do not control the movement and their arms.

Too strong or too soft correction is often best corrected by putting the beginner together with a dancer with the same problem and asking them to reverse their normal lead/follow role. It immeadiately becomes clear that there is 'nothing to lead' or that they have to crank like mad to get any response. This is a particular problem with light framed women who should be encouraged to 'give it welly'

Lessons should be structured so that there is an amount of practice time equal to the length of the lesson. Experienced dancers should be on hand to help them in the practice session.

2.  Formally Assess the Student

After about six to ten weeks dancers should be introduced to formal steps and moving the feet in time to the beat - there should also be some form of formal assement of what their weaknesses and strengths are.

If taught in a group session in the MJ system they will have learned to get in and out of patterns on time because all the other couples will be doing the same. It is a coordinated, synchronised activity. Getting the steps of Discofox on time with the other couples will follow on naturally from that.

The assessment should give the student an awareness of the areas they should work on and cover: Connection, Lead and Follow, Balance, Co-ordination and rhythm.

The assesment will also make some judgement on what dance form is most likely to suit them, Standard, Latin, Swing or Argentine Tango or Informal Latin (Salsa)

At this stage the student should be able to lead basic MJ or Discofox on a social dance floor. Ok, they won't be very good, but they should have the confidence to go on the social dance floor if asked. Leads should be encouraged to ask more experienced dancers to dance, again to improve their confidence.

It's is important to bear in mind that less than 1 in 5 beginners naturally hold the beat, less than 1 in 10 can hear the phrasing in a piece of music.

3. Choose the right dance form for the Student

In assessing the new student, its important to identify if they are a musical or musician dancer - these are the 1 in 10 dancers who can hear the phrasing in a piece of music. They have the potential to be the very best dancers, but need particularly careful handling if they are not to be discouraged.

In the assessment dance you will notice that they try to improvise to hit the breaks and pauses in the music. The patterns do not flow in a continous unbroken cycle. There will be breaks and pauses and attempts made to extent or shorten patterns to fit the music.

These students are particularly difficult to teach because when it comes to steps and patterns.  They are trying to do something the normal student is not able to even think about, that is hit the steps with musical precision and to adapt the patterns to fit the music. At this early stage they are unable to do either and they are forced to dance in way that to them feels 'out of time' and 'out of alighnment' to the music. They will continually rush steps and fluff them in an effort to stay on time and on phrase.

They should not be encouraged to do formal Ballroom or Latin, at this stage - Salsa, AT and Swing are to preferred. These forms are more tolerant of improvisation and dodgy footwork, and students will acquire the necessary co-ordination needed to 'hit the beat' with the precision they require. They then may at a later stage return to Ballroom or formal Latin.

4. On Switching Between various Dance Forms.

The lead and follow skills required in Swing and Argentine Tango are much higher than Ballroom or formal Latin (Salsa is somewhat intermediate between the two). The dancers are trying to match the musical phrasing not the beat so the patterns or step sequences are not predictable (or they only become predictable after a great deal of experience) For the swing or AT dancer doing Ballroom there is the sensation, even at bronze level they they are not leading at all. Leading is intimately tied up with following the musical phrasing, and if you are not doing that, you are not leading, or even dancing.

For the Swing or AT dancer absolute precision in the execution of a pattern/steps is not required, (its actually impossible if you are to do AT or Swing well) they will be adapted so as to hit the phrasing on time. When learning ballroom they have to learn NOT to listen to the music - which is very difficult (and why beginner musican dancers should be pointed in the direction of Swing or AT)

It should be emphasised that they are attempting to achieve physical precision and to resist the urge to interpret the music.

The reverse is true of the Ballroom dancer doing Swing or Argentine Tango. They often pick up the pattern/moves and technique with extraordinary ease but, to the experienced Swing or AT dancer their dancing, although fluid, often appears 'wooden' and 'unimaginative'. They have to be taught to give up the rules and formal framework they are used to and to listen to the music.

5. On the Teaching Techiques of Various Dance Forms.

I've had the good fortune to be taught by the leading teachers in Swing, Argentine Tango, and Ballroom in the UK, each of them has brought something different to my dancing. In simple terms, from Ballroom I've learned the need for body and movement control, from Swing, timing and rhythm and from Argentine Tango, Lead and Follow.

The biggest step forward I think was Argentine Tango, where it was emphasised that all that was required of a good lead was to know what foot your partner was on - and to get her to move the free foot in the direction you want. All dancing comes down to that in essence. You then have to get her to move that in time the music and rhythm (learned from Swing) and you have to have the physical control to be able to do that (learned from Ballroom)

Comments? Opinions?
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elisedance
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« Reply #116 on: November 03, 2009, 11:45:24 AM »

[do you mind if I put this in the 'what you wish teachers had taught you (or whatever its called) topic?  This actually fits there. Wink]
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If you must leave the house, go build a home...

The limit of your love is also the limit of your art...
albanaich
Intermediate Bronze

Posts: 236


« Reply #117 on: November 03, 2009, 12:06:37 PM »

Fair enough. . . .
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emeralddancer
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« Reply #118 on: November 03, 2009, 12:54:05 PM »

good post ... thought provoking ... first thought (will touch on more later but)

ok here is my question ... but feel free to correct me if I read this wrong ...

3. Choose the right dance form for the Student

These students are particularly difficult to teach because when it comes to steps and patterns.  They are trying to do something the normal student is not able to even think about, that is hit the steps with musical precision and to adapt the patterns to fit the music. At this early stage they are unable to do either and they are forced to dance in way that to them feels 'out of time' and 'out of alighnment' to the music. They will continually rush steps and fluff them in an effort to stay on time and on phrase.

They should not be encouraged to do formal Ballroom or Latin, at this stage - Salsa, AT and Swing are to preferred. These forms are more tolerant of improvisation and dodgy footwork, and students will acquire the necessary co-ordination needed to 'hit the beat' with the precision they require. They then may at a later stage return to Ballroom or formal Latin.


Why should someone "choose" the dance I want to learn? and Why would I as a student be discouraged even if I do continually rush or fluff steps? or if it is not the dance for me?

Isn't this why I am learning? To learn something I know I need to learn and work on?

I ask because THIS is one of my very issues with dancing. I am always "rushing" the steps. (I am a standard dancer) I know I do this and this is WHY I choose (er one of the reasons) to learn standard. It is difficult for me but it is because of it's "difficulty" that I like it. It is a challenge and a worthy one.

Hm... I wonder if my instructor gets frustrated WITH teaching me because I am off timing?

I tell ya though ... my instructor TRIED to put me where he thought I should be dancing style wise. Yeah no didn't work ... I was insistent and demanding and not budging at all  in wanting to learn standard so .... here I am.
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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
albanaich
Intermediate Bronze

Posts: 236


« Reply #119 on: November 03, 2009, 02:12:12 PM »

'm not saying that you should not do the dance of your choice, but that the problems of different dance forms are different. Everyone has different talents.

It's my experience that when you start dancing forcing yourself to do a dance form that is against your natural talents it restricts your development as a dancer. When I intially started dancing ballroom sometime back because I had my Swing dance head on. It was trying to dance while listening to the music, my head kept telling me I should be 'doing stuff to the music' and I kept screwing things up, or it took so much concentration it was not pleasurable experience.

I needed to relax and acquire the physical displines necessary to do ballroom through Swing dance. Most recently when I came back to ballroom I could put my feet where I wanted to when I wanted and understood why I needed to do things in certain way. Previously I was fighting against my natural inclination to do something else,

If someone has a natural inclination or talent they should follow as other skills will develop from that. If you are struggling against your natural inclination you'll find it difficult to pick up the basic skills of balance and co-ordination that are needed as a miinmum in all dance forms, bascially you are trying to learn too many difficult things at the same time.

It's not a matter of what you do or do not want to do, but rather what route is going to best help you develop as a dancer
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