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Author Topic: Things you wish instructors would emphasize sooner  (Read 13804 times)
Some guy
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« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2009, 01:08:27 PM »

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)
A combination of both. 

Well, one other coach tried to help me with similar principles my current coach is helping me learn.  However, at the time, the other coach failed to get through to me because every other coach in my city rejected his methods to the point that he never visits any of those studios anymore.  So he was not the right person to get through to me, and I wasn't ready either because I was only brainwashed with the fine-tuning approach.

My current coach and I got connected because I was sick of the way things were going and I decided there had to be a better way than the fine-tuning approach (when going to the Vatican, it doesn't help to get turn-by-turn directions from your front porch.  6-years later, I hadn't even left my neighborhood subdivision).  Just because everyone else was taking a decade to learn to dance decently didn't mean I had to be okay with that time frame.  They say the teacher appears when the student is ready.  So I guess, in a way, I was "ready", but it took a very special person to be able to get through my "defenses".   So as "ready" as I was, I'm sure my current coach can attest to the fact that I put up quite a fight at every turn regarding her teaching methods.  My current coach has many methods of getting through to me, such as planting seeds, helping me discover the truth myself, or by telling me that she's more than happy to let me pay her mortgage.     
« Last Edit: September 16, 2009, 01:25:37 PM by Some guy » Logged
Some guy
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« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2009, 01:15:38 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
Well, the problem is, most teachers I've known take the one-size-fits all approach instead of realizing that some of their students can skip a few of the pre-reqs.   
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Medira
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« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2009, 01:29:03 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
Well, the problem is, most teachers I've known take the one-size-fits all approach instead of realizing that some of their students can skip a few of the pre-reqs.   
Agreed.  When I started, I "broke" one of the franchise studios systems because I progressed faster than they had expected.
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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"
Dora-Satya Veda
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« Reply #18 on: September 16, 2009, 01:38:25 PM »

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.  

WOW SG, you just described what puzzles me about the way dancing is taught here in the US. Shocked When I was taught to teach, what you are describing as the “new way” is how I was taught to teach. My main teacher would actually often say that was why he had multiple sources of income and then he would laugh. He said that with this method of teaching the student would learn to dance so fast that they "graduate" after a few year of instruction. He also said that sometimes a student is look upon as the person the make the teacher’s mortgage payment or car payment. He was appalled about that way of thinking. Unfortunately that way of thinking is very common in the US and many students buy into that concept. My teacher’s favorite saying when this topic came up was “if you can walk then you can dance” and he proved several times that this was a very true statement. He would take a raw beginner and within a year they would be in the top 96 in amateur or even higher then after 2 year they would be in the top 24. I have however found that many people find it unbelievable that it is easy and they insist that it has to be difficult and cause injuries to the body. Shocked I find that kind of thinking illogical and destructive. I know for a fact that nothing could be further from the truth. If a student insists in making it difficult then by all means I will indulge them. Tongue If a student insists in paying my mortgage then by all means go for it. I do however normally tell students that insist on making it difficult to write the check for my mortgage and then let’s still take the short path to good dancing.  Wink
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Edward Teller
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« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2009, 01:43:59 PM »

My current coach has many methods of getting through to me, such as planting seeds, helping me discover the truth myself, or by telling me that she's more than happy to let me pay her mortgage.     

Good for her. If you want to pay my mortgage as well, then I will be happy to give you my account number.  Tongue Wink Cheesy
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Edward Teller
Ginger
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I see what you did there.


« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2009, 01:54:05 PM »

What do you guys think of teaching footwork first, then technique to make the figure easier to physically perform, then adding the musicality, THEN the styling?

We like to build them up from the floor by giving them one thing to worry about at a time, instead of all at once- at least until later, and we think they can handle it.
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Dora-Satya Veda
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« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2009, 02:12:58 PM »

What do you guys think of teaching footwork first, then technique to make the figure easier to physically perform, then adding the musicality, THEN the styling?

We like to build them up from the floor by giving them one thing to worry about at a time, instead of all at once- at least until later, and we think they can handle it.

My teacher never taught footwork, yet his students were known as having the best footwork in the business. After 7 month of dancing pro I asked him to teach me footwork. After two months of insisting on working on footwork he indulged me and gave me one lesson on footwork. I never had another lesson on footwork after that and I was known for having great footwork.

When I teach beginners we have a couple of “play with coins” lessons, but that is really all I will teach in regards to footwork. 

Teaching footwork is a different approach then what I was taught to do and teach. You have to find out what your mentor teacher suggest you do and follow that.

DSV


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

Edward Teller
cornutt
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« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2009, 02:15:53 PM »


We like to build them up from the floor by giving them one thing to worry about at a time, instead of all at once- at least until later, and we think they can handle it.

Yeah, that's what I'm kind of concerned about, from reading some of the above comments.  They're talking about people who aspire to be serious competitive dancers, who have been exposed to dancing from a young age, who can afford to take 4 hours of coaching a day, and have a more or less infinite amount of time to practice.  None of those things describe me, or most of the dancers at our studio.  

It really merits a separate topic, but I'll put the lead-in here.  If I had been told at the beginning that I needed to undergo hours a day of intensive training and practice, for several months, before I could be let loose with a partner, I would never have started dancing.  I am probably one of the most difficult students my instructor has ever had, because I not only had had little previous experience with dancing (and what experience I did have was all bad), but I had no exposure to any kind of performance art at all.  I knew a lot about music, but I've come to realize that in dancing, that's a detriment as often as it is an advantage.  I kind of feel like I'm having to defend my instructor here, because she is a good instructor with plenty of competitive experience.  And further, she understands that I do not have an artist's vision; I come at it with an engineering mind-set because that's who I am.  In the beginning, if I had had an instructor who didn't understand that, I would have quit.  
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Medira
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« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2009, 02:21:53 PM »

When I teach beginners we have a couple of “play with coins” lessons, but that is really all I will teach in regards to footwork. 
What do you mean by "play with coins" lessons, DSV?
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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 #24 on: September 16, 2009, 02:27:48 PM »

When I teach beginners we have a couple of “play with coins” lessons, but that is really all I will teach in regards to footwork. 
What do you mean by "play with coins" lessons, DSV?

I think she means the exercise where you put coins or pieces of paper on the floor, and use them to demonstrate footwork and maintaining contact with the floor.
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Ginger
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I see what you did there.


« Reply #25 on: September 16, 2009, 02:44:23 PM »

Okay, I think I'm unclear on "footwork"- for clarity's sake, could I please see a popular definition of it? D'oh!

I honestly don't think you have to have "hours of coaching a day"- that just... is overkill, unless you're really set on being the next Jesse DeSoto.

Let's be honest- for MOST of us, at our level as "hybrid social dancers with non-competition-oriented aspirations of betterness", that's overkill and a quick route to burnout.
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Dora-Satya Veda
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« Reply #26 on: September 16, 2009, 02:58:23 PM »

Yeah, that's what I'm kind of concerned about, from reading some of the above comments.  They're talking about people who aspire to be serious competitive dancers, who have been exposed to dancing from a young age, who can afford to take 4 hours of coaching a day, and have a more or less infinite amount of time to practice.  None of those things describe me, or most of the dancers at our studio.  

Actually this is not true. Many great social dancers in Europe are trained the way I describe. Many social dancers that are trained this way would do very well in competitions but they choose to dance social events and not compete. I also know as a fact that two of the top pro dancers of the US only had two lessons a week (on Sunday) and only practiced on Friday for 2 hours and Sunday for 2 hours at social events. They did this all through their amateur career and still made it to a world final. They were taught that what they perceived would become their reality and they perceived that they would become world class dancers with 6 hours of dancing a week and so they did.

Quote
If I had been told at the beginning that I needed to undergo hours a day of intensive training and practice, for several months, before I could be let loose with a partner, I would never have started dancing.  I am probably one of the most difficult students my instructor has ever had, because I not only had had little previous experience with dancing (and what experience I did have was all bad), but I had no exposure to any kind of performance art at all.  I knew a lot about music, but I've come to realize that in dancing, that's a detriment as often as it is an advantage.  I kind of feel like I'm having to defend my instructor here, because she is a good instructor with plenty of competitive experience.  And further, she understands that I do not have an artist's vision; I come at it with an engineering mind-set because that's who I am.  In the beginning, if I had had an instructor who didn't understand that, I would have quit.  

I will have to disagree here. Why would you have to spend hours of intensive training for months to become a great dancer? I do agree if that is your perception then that will be your reality. People that are willing to learn being in a child’s mindset, will learn to dance at a high level whether social or competitive in a very short time. A child learns to walk and run within 2 – 3 years of being born. Why would it then take an adult 5 – 10 years to learn to walk or run with music?

DSV

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

Edward Teller
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« Reply #27 on: September 16, 2009, 03:01:52 PM »

When I teach beginners we have a couple of “play with coins” lessons, but that is really all I will teach in regards to footwork. 
What do you mean by "play with coins" lessons, DSV?

Ask my sister at OSB. She also uses the "play with coins" when she tains her students. She actually used this with the couple I spoke of earlier.
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"As we understand more things, everthing is becoming simpler"

Edward Teller
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I see what you did there.


« Reply #28 on: September 16, 2009, 03:03:02 PM »

At least for me, coin between thighs would be counter to "move from the hip to get out of the lead's way", especially in closed changes. I'm trying to figure out accurate and understandable terminology for that right there for one of our couples. The right box always hangs them up, which is why we give them at least a simplistic 'figure eight' pattern as soon as we can. Getting the left leg out of the way is a big hangup for beginners here.
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Medira
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« Reply #29 on: September 16, 2009, 03:08:22 PM »

When I teach beginners we have a couple of “play with coins” lessons, but that is really all I will teach in regards to footwork. 
What do you mean by "play with coins" lessons, DSV?

Ask my sister at OSB. She also uses the "play with coins" when she tains her students. She actually used this with the couple I spoke of earlier.
Will do. Smiley
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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"
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