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Author Topic: Things you wish instructors would emphasize sooner  (Read 14028 times)
cornutt
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« on: September 06, 2009, 12:17:07 PM »

Here's a thread for things you wish that instructors would emphasize earlier in the learning process:

I wish that, for followers, instructors would show them the proper technique for underarm turns earlier.  We've had an influx of new students at our studio this year, and I noticed last Friday that quite a few of them try to do underarm turns as spins.  They go flying off to my left, and then they end up facing in some random direction.  And then I have to chase them around the floor to get back in frame.   Shocked

For leads, I wish I'd been taught sooner about "dancing into the floor" and using flex in my knees. 
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elisedance
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« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2009, 02:04:05 PM »

The big one for me - is already a topic here and that is that timing is about body motion and not about foot placement.  instead everyone is transformed into plodders - place the foot, move the body etc instead of place the body and the foot will follow.

[great topic idea too C - maybe some of our instructors would give some feedback]
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MusicChica
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« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2009, 04:40:48 PM »

I wish that, for followers, instructors would show them the proper technique for underarm turns earlier.  We've had an influx of new students at our studio this year, and I noticed last Friday that quite a few of them try to do underarm turns as spins.  They go flying off to my left, and then they end up facing in some random direction.  And then I have to chase them around the floor to get back in frame.   Shocked

That's interesting--when I was first learning how to dance, my instructor really emphasized that the underarm turns were a TURN, danced in time, and that I wouldn't end up back with the lead immediately.  I don't remember ever dancing the underarm turn as more of a spin.

I wish, for leads, that instructors would try to fix the truly awful posture problems before teaching them anything more complicated than a box and underarm turn.  Now, not all beginner leads have posture that horrifying, but for the ones that do, it's absolutely VITAL to fix it early.  There's this one guy at my studio who's not actually a terrible dancer, but he's got such shockingly bad posture that I half-wonder if he's got some kind of spinal deformity.  Seriously--he's already developing a hunchback, and he looks to only be in his late 20s or maybe early 30s.

Also, I'd love it if teachers would address the spaghetti arms vs. Cro Magnon lead right from the beginning as well.
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Ginger
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I see what you did there.


« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2009, 02:41:29 AM »

Floorcraft, LOD.

Follows carrying their own weight/balance issues instead of hanging onto leads. Leads should aim for clarity, not strength/force.
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Some guy
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« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2009, 03:06:26 AM »

I think, like Elise, I wish instructors explained that "stepping" is not dancing.  Dancing is what the body does.  "Stepping"... well, that's just unnatural and can cause horrendous injuries.  However, I have also come to realize that the reason most coaches concentrate on steps is because they are not aware of the illusion that is ballroom dancing.  Most of them learned as children and try to explain as adults what they're doing.  Little did they realize that as children, most of the information they gathered was non verbal.  Trying to explain things verbally as adults causes them to stress on the visual aspects that they can see in the mirror, and not necessarily what they're doing to produce the image they see in the mirror. 
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Ginger
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I see what you did there.


« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2009, 03:47:26 AM »

I for one am trying to do away with the use of "steps" as a word to define "figures" or patterns, or even elements.  It's just such a... it crawls on me the way the big blue M&M did at the head of Tourette's Guy's bed, or Billy Mays did, or that Head-On commercial.

A step is the thing that's in front of my home that I climb or descend daily, and ices over and throws me on my ass in the winter time. It's when I move one foot in any direction, proceeded often by others. If people imperiously flick their hand in a dismissively superior gesture and declare airily "Show us some new steps- we don't want that technique stuff", I stride very slowly off in a random direction and say "Okay... here's one... (step) and another... (step)... and another... yay, congrats, thirty bucks, go home."

That, and I'm a bit bitchy tonight thanks to some Famileh Draamah that's at an end at least until tomorrow.
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elisedance
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« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2009, 04:05:04 AM »


Follows carrying their own weight/balance issues instead of hanging onto leads. Leads should aim for clarity, not strength/force.
decidedly
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cornutt
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« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2009, 09:45:12 AM »

However, I have also come to realize that the reason most coaches concentrate on steps is because they are not aware of the illusion that is ballroom dancing.   

I tend to give them a bit more credit than that... the problem they have is that they're running a business, and they know that within the first few weeks they have to teach the new student enough so that they can dance a few dances on Friday night, or they will quit coming back.  This is a particular problem for leads, particularly those of us that learned later in life -- how many of us would have stuck with it if we had been told at the beginning that we would be required to undergo six months of training before we would be allowed to ask a woman for a dance?  Not me. 
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Medira
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« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2009, 09:51:06 AM »

I agree with Cornutt.  There's a certain amount of progression that needs to happen quickly to keep newcomers wanting to walk back in the studio door after they've gotten the courage together to do it the first time.  The sooner a newcomer couple can begin progressing around the floor, even if it's just doing basic waltz change steps, the more likely it is that they'll want to continue.  Posture and lead/follow must certainly come into play early, but not to the point where they dominate the lesson at the beginning.
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People can be divided into three classes: the few who make things happen, the many who watch things happen and the overwhelming majority who have no idea what has happened - Warren Miller's "Off The Grid"
cornutt
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« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2009, 10:02:49 AM »

I agree with Cornutt.  There's a certain amount of progression that needs to happen quickly to keep newcomers wanting to walk back in the studio door after they've gotten the courage together to do it the first time.  The sooner a newcomer couple can begin progressing around the floor, even if it's just doing basic waltz change steps, the more likely it is that they'll want to continue.  Posture and lead/follow must certainly come into play early, but not to the point where they dominate the lesson at the beginning.

Yes, the trick is to get the beginner up and running without their self-learning a lot of bad habits that will have to be corrected later. 
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Some guy
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« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2009, 10:37:39 AM »

I disagree Cornutt and Medira, I believe it's the teachers that don't give the students enough credit.  Maybe we're talking of two different time lines here.  I agree that steps are important to give an idea of what a figure looks like, but why is ballroom so unique that it takes the longest to create a decent looking dancer?  Why does the use of body come secondary to footwork and patterns?  

I for one have experimented with this approach of stressing the importance of the body first with flying colors at the University ballroom club I help teach.  It baffled me that the students could lead and follow Salsa, West Coast Swing, Argentine Tango, but had no clue when it came to basic Cha Cha, Rumba, Jive, Waltz, etc.  Soon as we switch to International Ballroom, I see legs stretching out reaching around the floor.  It's as if they remove dancing abilities, their eyes, their senses, then, short of picking up canes, they start walking around the floor like blind people feeling the floor in front of them with their legs and feet before taking steps, never transferring weight all the way, etc.  Just as an experiment, I tried to get them to not think of steps, and the results were staggering.  They suddenly enjoy it a lot more, their footwork improved, and now they don't feel scared to come to social dances and ask people they don't know to dance.  What's more, they even referred other people to come try this "new approach".  These are people who tried it the first time around and got put off by how "complicated" and "time consuming" it seemed.  They told me that they weren't interested because it seemed like it would take years before they could stop looking awkward and just "dance".  I know for a fact (evidenced by the pictures) that it took me 6-years before I could get pictures that didn't make me look like the Hunchback of Notredame.    

I for didn't know steps and footwork were second to body movement until about 8-months ago.  When people teach you to play tennis, apart from some very basic placement of feet before taking a shot, the actual "footwork" is not taught until the very high levels.  Most people love hitting the ball around without any knowledge of proper "footwork".  So I think teachers will be pleasantly surprised if they were to teach actual dancing first and then "footwork" and technicalities later.  The way I see it, there's "tuning" and there's "fine-tuning".  You tune first, then you fine tune.  Most teachers I've worked with spend decades with their fresh students on the "fine tune" knob.  They should be tuning first before fine-tuning.  Of course, this will lead to the danger that people will learn to dance faster, thereby not taking as many years of lessons, but the ability to dance and lead/follow sooner would, in my opinion, get more people in the door and keep them there instead of scaring them away.  
« Last Edit: September 16, 2009, 10:51:32 AM by Some guy » Logged
Medira
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« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2009, 11:00:07 AM »

I see exactly where you're coming from SG, and I agree to an extent, but I'm talking about giving brand new students a few basic steps to get them moving around a floor.  That's it.  I'm not talking about getting into complicated figures or anything.  Give them enough to get moving, then start working on the rest.
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People can be divided into three classes: the few who make things happen, the many who watch things happen and the overwhelming majority who have no idea what has happened - Warren Miller's "Off The Grid"
Some guy
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« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2009, 11:17:26 AM »

We're on the same page then.  It's just that I've been on fine-tune mode for 6-years and that's pretty much the case for an alarming number of people I know.  Then within the last few weeks I have experienced what real "tuning" is supposed to be and wish that I got that, say, five and a half years ago.   
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Medira
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« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2009, 11:30:06 AM »

I understand what you're saying, and I had a feeling we were trying to say the same thing too.

Is the recent, real "fine tuning" because of finding the right person to convey it, or because you were ready to learn it? (just curious)
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People can be divided into three classes: the few who make things happen, the many who watch things happen and the overwhelming majority who have no idea what has happened - Warren Miller's "Off The Grid"
elisedance
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« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2009, 12:29:14 PM »

I don't think its a one-size-fits all.  As with anything tought it depends on the goal.  If you just want to do a box step in a wedding your attention span is very different from an ex ballet dancer who wants to compete in blackpool Smiley
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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...
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