> >...It gets very tiring for us always to be partnered with the > >beginners, or those easily lost in a reel, when, rather than keeping an eye out, you are shepherding them through. The enjoyment of the evening wears thin... > > "Why are you shepherding anyone through a dance?"
Both of these concerns have been rambling through my brain in the past
week or so. First of all, I'd like to thank Bruce Hamilton for his
insightful comments (such as I've come to expect of this thoughtful
teacher) which helped distill much of what had been troubling me.
I freely confess that I do help beginners (including the loooong term
"beginners") at social events. In a class I can stop and start, point
out errors, offer suggestions, and allow them to try the movement again.
But in a social setting there isn't time for that. I generally don't
feel it is an imposition to help, or that I failed some standard that
says - everyone must be responsible for his or her own dancing. In the
long run I hope it can contribute to learning, and in the immediate it
can help the whole set enjoy a dance rather than have it dissolve into
Of course I enjoy dancing in a set with competent dancers, but in one
dance last night I realized how I find a balance that works for me. One
older couple in the set were hampered by being physically unable to
complete movements quickly and were new enough to all of this to be a
little unsure. The other three couples were all of a good standard. When
the less-sure couple were involved we all helped in one way or another,
either by a hand gesture, or by moving in a way which assisted them into
place (and, I admit, Bruce, with the occasional verbal hint). But when
they were inactive, the rest of us enjoyed the freedom of movement, the
phrasing, and the pleasure of the dance.
I grant you a whole night of shepherding beginners (either in class or
at a social event) will make for a less enjoyable evening. But the
delights come unexpectedly. I enjoy it when new dancers are obviously
appreciative of friendly support, and I enjoy it when I can indulge in
controlled abandon with good, experienced dancers. And sometimes both of
those things happen within the same 8x32 dance.