strathspey Archive: Objective tests to determine dancing ability

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Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18938 · Alan Paterson · 20 Oct 1999 22:18:26 · Top

Like every other SCD group in the known universe, we in Bern currently have the
problem of a couple of dancers who feel that they should be permitted to take
part in the advanced class. In my opinion, which I grant is not very extensive,
they should be classed as level elementary, in that, when dancing in the same
set, other dancers are continually having to nurse them through.

So, my question is as follows: Has anyone determined any series of objective
tests which could be used to give an accurate description of the level of a
dancer?

Alan

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18944 · Freeman/Pavey · 21 Oct 1999 01:06:06 · Top

Alan Paterson wrote:
>
> Like every other SCD group in the known universe, we in Bern currently have the
> problem of a couple of dancers who feel that they should be permitted to take
> part in the advanced class......

Having recently intruded myself into an "advanced" class I have given
this some thought in trying to determine if I was justified. I asked the
teacher of the advanced class and she said I could handle it, but I
still wanted to do my own assessment, which has been ongoing as the fall
classes have progressed. In case they may be of interest, here are my
subjective conclusions.

There seem to be three aspects to advanced dancing:

1) Being able to complete an unfamiliar dance correctly after receiving
instruction.
2) Being in the right place at the right time.
3) Performing the necessary steps (pas de basque and travelling)
required.

In the above I would assign the following values:
1) 40
2) 40
3) 20 ..... totalling 100

The reason I assign so little to 3), correct footwork, is because it
does not significantly affect the other dancers. We all know experienced
dancers and teachers who's foot work is not great, but who are still
considered advanced dancers, and justifiably so, because they can do an
unfamiliar dance from a talk through and are always in the right place
at the right time. Excellent footwork may make a promenade, poussette or
"down the middle and back" more enjoyable for one's partner, but in
general I think excellent footwork is a personal goal, as long as one
can travel fast enough to complete 1) and 2) above.

Incidentally, my own self analysis, using the above allocations of
value, put me at the 37th percentile when I compared myself with the
others in the class. I wonder what my teacher would say ......

Cole Pavey
Maberly, Ontario, Canada

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18946 · ron.mackey · 21 Oct 1999 01:44:35 · Top

> So, my question is as follows: Has anyone determined any series of objective
> tests which could be used to give an accurate description of the level of a
> dancer?
>
> Alan

I can offer an observation which I use in class, which when offered
to them increased their self assesment and determination to improve.
Beginners and early intermediates dance best in 8 bar phrases,
full intermediates dance in 4 bar phrases, while advanced to
celestial dancers dance in 2 bar phrases or less !
Cheers, Ron :)

< 0 Ron Mackey,(Purveyor of Pat's Party Pieces)
'O> Mottingham,
/#\ London. UK.
l>
Ron.Mackey@btinternet.com

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18955 · Priscilla M. Burrage · 21 Oct 1999 19:31:27 · Top

On Wed, 20 Oct 1999, Alan Paterson wrote:

> So, my question is as follows: Has anyone determined any series of objective
> tests which could be used to give an accurate description of the level of a
> dancer?

Scottish dancing is social dancing.

Home truth department:

Beginner: Can get self through dance most of the time. Really needs good,
helpful partner. Should stay out of dances in which partner is not in a
place to help. Technique: Looks at feet.

Intermediate: Can get self through dances. Helps partner. Occasionally
recognizes that there are other dancers in the set (other than the one
that he/she is dancing with). Technique: Panics frequently. woman can
dance on man's side in a few dances. Woman wants man to dance with most
of the time. Either sex: Books dances with partner in whom dancer is
confident.

Newly Advanced: Has great footwork and knows it. Impatient with dancers
who don't 'get it' right away. Occasionally dances solo even though in
four-couple set. Technique: Needs to relax while dancing. Books entire
set for challenging dances.

Experienced Advanced: Looks for beginners if the dance is an easy one.
Laughs when makes mistake, but is in the right within a bar of music.
Looks at a dance program and knows all but two or three. Technique: Has
been dancing a lonnng time. Is usually heard complaining aabout feet,
knees, hips, or back. Fussy about the type of floor for dancing. Uses
good footwork when it matters to other dancers (sometimes with a grimace).

Been there, done that.

Love to dance.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Priscilla Burrage Vermont US
(pburrage@zoo.uvm.edu)

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18958 · Martin.Sheffield · 21 Oct 1999 20:29:49 · Top

Alan asked:
> Has anyone determined any series of objective
>tests which could be used to give an accurate description of the level of a
>dancer?

Yes, a hundred times.

Unfortunately none of the dancers that have ever been subjected to my
MCing/teaching/leadership/enouragement have ever shown the slightest
interest in knowing which would be the most appropriate group for their
abilities.
Two criteria only come into play when choosing which "class" to attend out
of the three I am now running :
1. Does the time and day suit me?
2. Is it reachable from where I live?

I don't think anyone has ever wondered if their lack of practice would be a
hindrance for other members of the group.

So we live with the problem.
A recent influx of beginners in my more experienced group was a surprise to
which I reacted with a big smile. To one person only, knowing she would be
a slow learner, did I say "Why don't you come to the Friday group, just
down the road from where you live, rather than traveling all across town?"
"Oh, no. I have other things to do on Fridays."
I hadn't the heart to say she might slow down the progress of the
experienced group, so she'll be staying, and my reward will be the evident
pleasure she is taking in the activity.

In any case, I prefer to consider what some people would call "classes" to
be social gatherings, pleasant (I hope) and as satisfying as possible for
the majority. Hardly any of my dancers are learning dancing/dances in
order to go and perform somehwere else. The meetings are not a means to an
end, they are an end in themselves.

We have only one roving ambassadress (that some of you have met); the rest
are quite unadventurous, and an accurate assessment of their level is of no
importance.

Whatever their teacher may think !
Martin,
in Grenoble, France.
---
http://perso.wanadoo.fr/scots.in.france/
(dancing, dances, cycling ...)

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18959 · Alan Paterson · 21 Oct 1999 21:11:45 · Top

Martin Sheffield wrote:

<snip a lot of text with which I have a lot of agreement>

> I hadn't the heart to say she might slow down the progress of the
> experienced group, so she'll be staying, and my reward will be the evident
> pleasure she is taking in the activity.

But what of the reduction in the pleasure of the others in the group? Is it
imaginable that you could feel worse by observing that others are unhappier with
this situation?

Swings and roundabouts.

If I might give just a touch more background on my situation (which started this
thread):

For the first 6-7 years or so we were only one group/class. 9By the way,
Martin's excellent observation that most evenings are to be thought of as ends
in themselves rather than means to achieve an end fits completely with us as
well.) This group expanded, became more competent, but, of course, the range of
ability slowly got wider and wider.

It eventually reached the point where there was a clear distinction between
people who needed to be helped through a dance and people who did the helping.
Now, I can truly say that all of those who did the helping were aware of the
necessity for it and accepted that in SCD "That's the way it is". However, an
increased level of enjoyment could be reached - for these people - by allowing
them to dance in sets where they were not required to help people or to modify
their own dancing to accommodate others. So, the group/class was split.

On the whole this works well. The 'advanced' group can work on technique, dance
more complex dances, try dancing the simpler dances with more elegance,
precision, whatever ... and, in the social dancing part of the evening - the
larger part, the combined group still works well. In fact, having been given a
time without having to be nursemaids, the more advanced group are very much
better at helping the others and being tolerant of their weaknesses.

I suspect, human nature being what it is, that pure altruism would run out
eventually if one is *always* dancing with at least one eye open for having to
correct the movements of others.

The situation, as I said is an agreeable one. Until now. Now, 2 of our
elementary dancers are pushing their way into the other group. Should we allow
this to happen, we are back to the original situation. My am is to avoid this
and to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Preferably
without hurting people too much.

This is why I was asking for an objective set of 'tests' which could be seen by
all to reflect the true state of an individual's ability.

And yes, Priscilla and Martin, SCD IS social dancing. No argument. My aim is to
get the maximum of pleasure for the maximum number. Not just for 2.

Alan

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18960 · JMcColl526 · 21 Oct 1999 21:37:21 · Top

I quite agree with Priscilla Burrage's definition of levels of
dancing. I chuckled at her description of the Experienced Advanced group
as that is where I consider myself after fifty years+ of SCD. Most of my
good friends are in this category.

Love to dance and teach.

Jeanetta McColl Framingham, MA
(JMcColl526@aol.com)

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18962 · Maclachlan · 21 Oct 1999 22:08:18 · Top

In a message dated 10/21/99, 1:12:12 PM,
strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de writes:
<<I suspect, human nature being what it is, that pure altruism would run out
eventually if one is *always* dancing with at least one eye open for having
to
correct the movements of others.
>>

I agree with Alan. In our group, I would be an "intermediate--advanced"
dancer, and am the one who gets to steer new people through poussettes,
allemands, etc. My husband is now one of the more advanced of the men,
although of the "intermediate" level. 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.

Unfortunately, we are too small to divide, so...

Wondering though, could part of the problem be that the two dancers think
that length of time dancing equals ability? As in, I'm no longer a newcomer,
I should be allowed in that other class? Perhaps using the terms beginner,
intermediate, advanced, is part of the problem. There has been much
discussion about familiarity with a dance makes a "difficult" one easier for
beginners, and that some people remain clueless regardless of how long
they've danced, or how good they think they are.

Are there some basic dances that could be used as the test? As in,
successful completetion of these dances with just a briefing, qualifies you
to change to a different class. Because different groups teach different
dances, the basic set might vary widely between groups.

Beverly Laughlin
Eunice, Louisiana

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18963 · Norah Link · 21 Oct 1999 22:27:37 · Top

>>> Alan Paterson <alanp@paranor.ch> 21/10/99 01:15 pm >>>

If I might give just a touch more background on my situation (which started this
thread):
<<<

Alan - a toughie! And the way groups evolve, although it sounds like you had
reached what still is for the majority a happy compromise. Let me start by
congratulating you on growing your group enough both in numbers and in skill level
to have this problem! Now then...

Have you transitioned anyone from the "basic" level to the "advanced" level yet?
How did you decide they were ready, and how much work was it for them & for the
rest of the advanced class to integrate them?

Have you asked this couple what they think they're NOT getting out of the "basic"
class that they WOULD get in the "advanced" class? Maybe you can make some small
adjustments to the way you handle the "basic" class that would satisfy their
needs. (Some random thoughts that spring to mind... occasionally doing more
difficult dances in the basic class so they find out what the
challenge/satisfaction is... having them observe the advanced class at work from
time to time... having integrated technique classes from time to time...
intensifying THIS COUPLE'S technique work so they can advance more quickly...
having a party without dancing where everyone can socialize together without the
pressure of being a "good" dancer or not...). At least, getting more information
on what's bugging them would give you a context to frame your response around.

If you've tried this and it's really a case of they say they're ready, you say
they're not, why not give them a chance to observe the advanced class one night &
then the next night give them a trial run (if they still want to)? On both
nights, avoid technique work and just do a variety of dances, from simple with
talk-through only to advanced figures that you would expect them to be able to do
when they START with the group. That's what really shows their skill level. You
might find it useful to make this a standard "test". And do make sure you CAN
provide your dancers with a way of acquiring the necessary skills to "move up" -
make it part of your curriculum to teach the necessary figures, and if the
majority of the "basic" class can't handle them, create situations like guest
evenings with the advanced class for the "nearly there" students to have a chance
to learn and practise them.

Of course, this is all very easy to say from this side of the ocean. Best of luck
- let us know what you did and how it turned out.

regards,
Norah

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18972 · Richard L. Walker · 22 Oct 1999 01:30:33 · Top

Interesting. Ron Wallace addressed this very issue at a workshop once. He
asked (essentially), "Why are you shepherding anyone through a dance?" His
advice was to let everyone make their own mistakes and ultimately assume
responsibility for their own dancing. Even though I violate this (good)
advice frequently, it is sound and I do like it. The dancers who are used
to all the help will certainly have fits when they are allowed to make those
mistakes (at least at first), but a few restarts following the mistakes,
with a bit of additional instruction prior to each restart, might let them
get through the dances solo and take that burden from your shoulders. I
know I need to take this recommendation myself.

-----Original Message-----
From: Maclachlan@aol.com [mailto:Maclachlan@aol.com]
...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...

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18973 · Norah Link · 22 Oct 1999 01:59:49 · Top

>>> <strathspey-request@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de> 21/10/99 05:29 pm >>>
Interesting. Ron Wallace addressed this very issue at a workshop once. He
asked (essentially), "Why are you shepherding anyone through a dance?" His
advice was to let everyone make their own mistakes and ultimately assume
responsibility for their own dancing.
<<<

Sage advice, indeed. Especially when "shepherding" involves being out of place
yourself. Doesn't set the best example to your partner, although it is sometimes
necessary.

BTW, going back to the original question here, the same gentleman used a
quick-time dance with turn corner-partner in it to separate the advanced dancers
from the not-yet or no-longer there dancers at a workshop where the advanced class
was particularly large and needed culling quickly. I was not in there, but I
understand it worked quite well for that situation.

cheers,
Norah

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18975 · RuddBaron · 22 Oct 1999 03:09:29 · Top

Another thing I have noticed is that many classes feel like they have to walk
a dance through all eight times before they can do it. It seems to me that
this is a result of operant (and perhaps a bit of classical) conditioning
over the years, i.e., they start out walking the dance through eight times
and this behaviour is reinforced by the teacher or class marshal.
Consequently, one has compotent, veteran dancers that feel as if they must
walk a dance through from every single possible position before they can do
it. It seems to me that if they were to be taught from the beginning to walk
it through from a single position and be able to do the entire dance (except
that new dancers may need a bit more walking to start with), and then
eventually get them to where they can have a talk-through only and do the
dance, they would become much more confident, enjoys dances and balls more,
and save time during class. Whenever I mention this, the response I usually
get is that they aren't experienced enough to do that. However, if they try
it, they usually find they can actually do it with minimal walking.

s/RBJ

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18976 · Priscilla M. Burrage · 22 Oct 1999 04:33:02 · Top

On Thu, 21 Oct 1999 RuddBaron@aol.com wrote:

> Another thing I have noticed is that many classes feel like they have to walk
> a dance through all eight times before they can do it. It seems to me that
> this is a result of operant (and perhaps a bit of classical) conditioning
> over the years, i.e., they start out walking the dance through eight times
> and this behaviour is reinforced by the teacher or class marshal.

Many times it's the members of the class who feel insecure and ask for a
another walkthrough. Often the teacher has to emphasize learning other
ways and giving the members of the class the opportunity to learn these
other ways. For example, watching from fourth place; dancing it the
second or third week from just a talk-through; talking the dance through
as though they were leading the class. All of these are good practise for
socials.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Priscilla Burrage Vermont US
(pburrage@zoo.uvm.edu)

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18988 · Martin.Sheffield · 23 Oct 1999 13:14:47 · Top

Reading your messages late at night after returning from my Friday
beginners' class ...

Last week, we guided a whole bunch of new people through "St Andrews Fair"
(perfect beginners' dance, imho, and I like Ron Gonella's recording of it).
This evening I walked one new person through, then asked who else would
like to walk as first couple (expecting we 'd have to walk at least 4
times, if not more), and no-one wanted to ! ! !
On your own heads be it, thought I, as I put on the music -- and both sets
were almost perfect.
I haven't recovered yet.
If they have confidence in themselves, they'll get it right, and,
apparently, seeing the figures walked through once was enough to give them
that confidence.
And on the strength of that succesful piece of dancing, we went on to have
a whole evening of reasonably well-done dances, so much so, that I had
difficulty persuading them to go home at the end of the prescribed two
hours ! "More," they said. "Let's do some more."
I'm not sure I'm going to survive this year.
Martin,
in Grenoble, France.
---
http://perso.wanadoo.fr/scots.in.france/
(dancing, dances, cycling ...)

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18992 · J. Stewart Cunningham · 23 Oct 1999 19:00:11 · Top

I don't think that the original request for an objective set of tests
has ever been answered except for one delightful tongue-in-cheek reply.
There has been lots of anecdotal information and considerable chat about
the difficulties that a few dancers cause when they don't know their
level of ability. However, getting back to the original request - Are
there any objective tests of dancing ability? My observation would be
that this is an important subject and one that is a challenge which
should be faced and overcome by the SCD dancing and teaching community.

Walking & Teaching (Long)

Message 18998 · mlbrown · 24 Oct 1999 16:57:27 · Top

Greetings:

I have been worried during the last week by some of the replies, especially
those which discussed walking before dancing. I have never ever thought of
classifying a dancer by how many times they needed to walk through a dance.
Walking gives people confidence, but it doesn't help them to dance the dance
very much. Last Friday we were doing a dance (The Full Monty), which was new
to all of us, and had a few unusual movements, so I let each couple walk the
last 24 bars - and writing this I now know why it didn't work - at the end
of 8 bars of setting the dancing couple are facing 3rd corner positions and
then have to dance round 2nd corner positions - yes it was easy for some,
but it was a movement which needed practicing at dancing speed (they could
all walk it perfectly!).
In most dances there are only a couple of tricky bits, so why not get the
couples to dance as far as that, then walk the tricky bit,and then dance it.
(The movement practice should have taken place before the dance started, or
even before teaching / dancing the first 8 bars - the problem with dances
that are new to the teacher is that they often think another part of the
dance is a problem!)

If people want to walk they should take up rambling - at an SCD class they
have usually come to dance, and the teacher should ensure they do a lot of
it, even if it is only 8 bars at a time. But they all need to do it (get
them used to dancing down the middle and up en-masse, even if in the dance
it is only 1st couple). I like to get 1st couple to walk then dance the
first 8 bars, then slip to the bottom. 2nd couple dances the first 8 bars,
walks and dance the 2nd 8 bars, then slips to the bottom. 3rd couple dances
first 16 bars, walks and dances 3rd 8 bars. 4th couple dances first 24 bars,
walks and dances last 8 bars. Original 1st couple dances the whole dance and
slips to the bottom, (usually with loud complaints when they go wrong theat
they had only danced the first 8 bars!). 2nd couple dances all 32, then 3rd
couple. So no-one stands for long, they all practice dancing, and they all
know that they need to watch because they are not going to get a walk
through (unless they go completely wrong - I'm not that hard).

Which brings me to the other concern I had about needing to persuade people
not to go into a particular class. Perhaps I'm lucky, but the stonger people
in my class automatically ask the less skillful ones. I can remember one
occasion when we had 4 really good dancers dancing with each other, which
was nice because I could use them to show what a particular progression
should really look like, but I remeber it because it is so rare. As a
general rule, if the class cannot perform the dance correctly, then it is
the teacher`s fault (even when I know I have done everything correctly, and
yet the class is having a bad Friday night, in my calmer moments I know it
is my fault, not theirs!). If the dance is broken down so that even the
weaker dancers can master the difficulties, then it shouldn't matter what
the composition of the class is.

Sorry to have gone on at such length, but it is a wet October Sunday.

Malcolm

Walking & Teaching (Long)

Message 19013 · SMiskoe · 25 Oct 1999 03:31:24 · Top

Malcolm makes an interesting comment that people need to dance a dance rather
than walk it inorder to learn it. Way back when the world was young, I
remember Miss Milligan teaching a dance, then having the couples walk it to
the music, so they could have the tune ingrained in their heads, get a sense
of the dance, but not have the added task of remembering the footwork. After
they had learned that part of the dance, they would add the footwork. An
interesting learning approach that one seldom sees these days.
Cheers,
Sylvia Miskoe, Concord, NH USA

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18999 · mlbrown · 24 Oct 1999 17:26:24 · Top

Stewart wrote:

>I don't think that the original request for an objective set of tests
>has ever been answered except for one delightful tongue-in-cheek reply.
>There has been lots of anecdotal information and considerable chat about
>the difficulties that a few dancers cause when they don't know their
>level of ability. However, getting back to the original request - Are
>there any objective tests of dancing ability? My observation would be
>that this is an important subject and one that is a challenge which
>should be faced and overcome by the SCD dancing and teaching community.

There are at least four ways of assessing dancing standards which I can
think of that are pseudo objective (i.e. they claim to be but I don't
believe them!).
1)The one that most of us have access to are the dancing parts of the
teaching exams. Two people with many years experience of dancing and
teaching watch and assess each individuals dancing against certain criteria.
2)Similar, but not available to many, are competitive festivals. The problem
with these is that it is the entire team which is being assessed, so not so
much help for individual dancers.
3)Certain branches, especially those which run childre's classes, have
grading exams for their students. We based ours on Newcastle's system (they
had two grades, so we had three, but who's counting!).
4)Lastly there are the exams set by the I.D.T.A.

I think that we have a real dilemma in trying to assess standards of dancing
in an objective way,even if we have a few broad categories (Beginner,
Intermediate, Advanced, Very Advanced).
If standards are important then we need to asess ourselves against the
standards, and before we know it we are having competitive festivals. If you
look at the standard of country dancing from around the world as seen in the
75th anniversary video, and compare it with the highland dancing on the same
thing you will see the effect of competition. (The Llangollen international
folk festival was originally non-competitive, but they needed to raise the
standards so they changed it!)
But is that what SCD is all about? If you look at the description of how we
should be dancing then it is obviously an athletic activity, and as with all
such you need to be less than 35 to do it properly - (when I see young
dancers getting off the ground so effortlessly I turn a
dark shade of green) - So does that mean that we should all stop SCD once we
reach 40? Sorry, but I'm taking my example from Miss Milligan; to quote
whoever it was, "I'll carry on until I just slip to the bottom of the set!"

Malcolm

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19000 · eclyde · 24 Oct 1999 18:34:02 · Top

*Very* interesting!

> Malcolm wrote:
> There are at least four ways of assessing dancing standards which I can
> think of that are pseudo objective (i.e. they claim to be but I don't
> believe them!).
> 1)The one that most of us have access to are the dancing parts of the
> teaching exams. Two people with many years experience of dancing and
> teaching watch and assess each individuals dancing against certain
criteria.
> [etc.]

At least in North America, the only people with access to the teaching
exams are the candidates (of course), the tutor, and two sets of stooges.
No other teachers or class members are allowed to watch -- it used to be
done when Dr. Jean Milligan was examining.

I realize that this might make the exam even more of an ordeal
but I would like to see the examiners show how they would teach a lesson
(as used to happen during and after Dr. Milligan's exams).

Eric Clyde
Ottawa Branch

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19001 · Andrew Patterson · 24 Oct 1999 20:52:28 · Top

In-Reply-To: <3.0.5.32.19991023104133.007cbdc0@pop.wanadoo.fr>
Martin

One of the reasons why St. Andrew's Fair is particularly
suitable for beginners is that, after the relatively
simple first 8 bars, all three couples dance
identical movements. This may explain why your class found
it unnecessary to walk through from different positions.

Andrew Patterson

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19007 · Marjorie McLaughlin · 24 Oct 1999 23:01:08 · Top

> >...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
chaos.

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.

Marjorie McLaughlin
San Diego, CA

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19011 · AGallamore · 25 Oct 1999 00:22:20 · Top

Following on Marjorie's astounding observation, I have to recant a story that
just happened to me last weekend in Atlanta....

A woman, of "limited exposure" to dancing, came up to me and said she admired
my dancing. I, in turn, said "thank you" The next statement that she made
left a horrid rift in my thoughts.....

"One day I hope that I can dance well enough so that I may be able to dance
with you."

As flattering as that may be, I felt empty. Did all my experienced dancing
make me different? 19 years of dancing certainly does make me "advanced", but
like in the south, we use manners to give everyone the same standard to feel
comfortable, not some club that are used on other people's head. The same
applies in dancing. Only by integration will they be able to grow and reach
new levels.

So, the next time someone wants to leave move up to the next level of
dancing, give them the chance. If they don't succeed, just politely explain
that they are not ready yet, but their potential is very strong.......

Well, that's how WE in the south would do it, bless their heart.

-Mr. Sandy Gallamore
Charlotte, NC

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19019 · parrymac · 25 Oct 1999 11:33:23 · Top

I have followed this thread with great distress. Did anyone besides me
notice that while this thread's been going regarding those annoying
beginners and inexperienced dancers who manage to ruin the evening for
experienced folk, in another thread someone pointed out how useful
two-couple dances are for those occasions when a third couple doesn't show
up?

Who is going to increase membership, fill sets, and carry on Scottish
Country Dancing if folks are made to feel they are ruining the dancing?

I am extremely fortunate, I can see, that here in Wellington, New Zealand,
Scottish Country Dancers embrace the masses, obviously delighted to have
new blood to increase the number of sets. More people dancing = more
dancing! The grand dames of SCD here go out of their way to pull us
newcomers into the fold, and, to be sure, we get muddled sometimes...AND
some of the experienced dancers are making the same mistakes we new folks
are making! Yet I have not yet heard a single word of discouragement spoken
to the inept -- and our dancers seem quite capable of directing lost sheep
WITHOUT being out of place or out of time.

Too bad so many out there need to ask for ways to discourage folks. What
happens when you run out of dancers?

With thanks to Sandy Gallamore, Malcolm L Brown, Bruce Hamilton, and
everyone else who see neophytes as an investment in SCD's future,

Nona Parry

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19020 · Pia Walker · 25 Oct 1999 12:16:43 · Top

I had promised myself that I did not want to get involved in this line of
discussion - but my toungue is getting very sore from all the biting.

I was of the opinion that the people on Strathspey were not or at least very
little "elitist" but I'm beginning to change my mind. In stead I have
heard a lot of answers from people who have talked about people being worse
than them - it is very assuring to know that we are so many excellent
dancers out there - and that this server only is read by very advanced,
brilliant dancers.

I for one take great delight in dancing with anybody - good or not so good -
the great thing about SCD is that all can participate - I have danced with
old, infirm, blind, deaf, young, children etc etc. and they have all given
me something back, namely the enjoyment of dancing scottish dancing.

I personally find that I can continue to improve my dancing technique no
matter what the standard of other dancers are - If they are better than me
fine - I will rise to the challange and also learn something from them -
hoping that they will allow me to learn from them. If they are less able
than me, then I hope that I have the skill to help them achieve a truly
fantastic experience and come away feeling that SCD is for them also.

Remember there are upto 8 people dancing TOGETHER, which means all 8 should
be able to enjoy themselves.

In this present day where RSCDS are trying to get more members, it is not
the truly brilliant dancer - with the perfect technique and an awesome
demeanour. which get people interested - no! it is the less able dancer, who
when they dance and enjoy themselves, other people can say: "that looks fun
and if he can do it then I can do it"

If we give people the confidence to improve themselves, then they will get
better - if we keep saying "you are still not good enough" - then they will
leave and we will be even more an exclusive group with no future.

The only true objective tests should be a willingness to observe dance
etiquette and help others - both those who are better than one-self and
those who are not so good.

I won't apologize for my ramblings today

Pia

>Following on Marjorie's astounding observation, I have to recant a story
that
>just happened to me last weekend in Atlanta....
>
>A woman, of "limited exposure" to dancing, came up to me and said she
admired
>my dancing. I, in turn, said "thank you" The next statement that she made
>left a horrid rift in my thoughts.....
>
>"One day I hope that I can dance well enough so that I may be able to dance
>with you."
>
>As flattering as that may be, I felt empty. Did all my experienced dancing
>make me different? 19 years of dancing certainly does make me "advanced",
but
>like in the south, we use manners to give everyone the same standard to
feel
>comfortable, not some club that are used on other people's head. The same
>applies in dancing. Only by integration will they be able to grow and
reach
>new levels.
>
>So, the next time someone wants to leave move up to the next level of
>dancing, give them the chance. If they don't succeed, just politely
explain
>that they are not ready yet, but their potential is very strong.......
>
>Well, that's how WE in the south would do it, bless their heart.
>
>-Mr. Sandy Gallamore
>Charlotte, NC
>
>--
>AGallamore@aol.com
>
>

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19022 · Alan Paterson · 25 Oct 1999 16:34:04 · Top

It's me again, the one who started this thread!

I was distressed to read the last message from Pia (whom I know
personally - a lovely lady - Hi Pia!). There was nothing further from my
thoughts as I posted the original question than to imply that any
elitist structure be set up and/or maintained.

In as few words as possible, the original question follows:

I have 2 classes/groups. One is for complete beginners and elementary
level. The other is for those who like to be able to dance more complex
dances and not have to be nursemaids (IMPORTANT: this is only for about
one third of the evening's timetable. Social dancing is the larger
part).

If we are to avoid being elitist, then no group anywhere should have
more than one level of instruction. I do not necessarily like the idea
that there are different levels of ability. (Hey, if I myself could only
dance as well as Ron Wallace, Anna Holden, Linda Gaul, Elke, my wife or
Juergen Munz...!). But they exist - and ignoring them would not be a
wise thing to (IMHO).

I was looking for assistance in explaining to my wayward students that
they, as elementary level dancers, would not be able to take part
successfully in the other group.

My heartfelt thanks to those who have offered their advice. I will be
doing my best to follow some of it.

Alan

--
Alan Paterson
Berne, Switzerland
mailto:alan@scottap.com

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19080 · Bryan McAlister · 27 Oct 1999 00:33:59 · Top

In article <003201bf1ec2$a09e97a0$188593c3@default>, Pia Walker
<piawalke@nascr.net> writes
How about a measure of how rewarding people are to dance with. There are
excellent experienced dancers who do not come into that category at all.
Can they therefore be considered good dancers?

Generally I screw things up early in the evening till my brain gets in
gear and I think I get better, when should I get assessed?
Bryan McAlister B Arch RIBA ARIAS
Web page www.bryanmac.demon.co.uk
Mobile phone 07801 793849

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19092 · Pia Walker · 27 Oct 1999 11:34:17 · Top

Hi Bryan

You obviously have more than I have - a brain :>)
Well saying that - I have a brain, but unfortunately my posterior cuts all
messages off to the feet.

bye for now

Pia
-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan McAlister <Bryan@bryanmac.demon.co.uk>
To: strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de
<strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de>
Date: 26 October 1999 21:47
Subject: Re: Objective tests to determine dancing ability

>In article <003201bf1ec2$a09e97a0$188593c3@default>, Pia Walker
><piawalke@nascr.net> writes
>How about a measure of how rewarding people are to dance with. There are
>excellent experienced dancers who do not come into that category at all.
>Can they therefore be considered good dancers?
>
>Generally I screw things up early in the evening till my brain gets in
>gear and I think I get better, when should I get assessed?
>Bryan McAlister B Arch RIBA ARIAS
>Web page www.bryanmac.demon.co.uk
>Mobile phone 07801 793849
>
>--
>Bryan McAlister <Bryan@bryanmac.demon.co.uk>
>
>

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19023 · Richard L. Walker · 25 Oct 1999 16:34:58 · Top

What I find interesting (it has happened on several topics of discussion) is
how a few statements get quoted out of context and then a few folks make
these damning proclamations amounting to either "how could you" or "how
could we."

One person wanted to know if there was a reasonable way to separate dancers
into more than one class (not social dance; CLASS). It is obvious that
this question would not apply to a town like mine where you are lucky to get
6-8 dancers to show up, but if you live in a location with a lot of dancers
it could make sense.

Another person touched on the burden of helping dancers through all the
dances. I (blush) made a comment (again about a class environment) where
you could let the dancers who have always been helped, and who tend to never
learn dances because they expect to be helped as they always have been
helped. I mentioned a philosophy of letting those dancers make their own
mistakes and then stopping the dance for a bit of additional instruction at
what is causing the problems. I think the idea is if those dancers know the
help will be minimal, they would probably put out a little effort to learn
the formations and remember how they are put together in the dance being
done. In many situations you tend to have a horse and rider situation. The
riders will let others be the horses as long as they are willing. To some,
the horses are mean when they attempt to get the riders to carry a bit of
the load themselves (at least that is what I perceive from many comments
about being harsh). Others see a bit of hope in trying it out (maybe).
Nobody who has spent years helping others through dances is going to stop
cold turkey -- they will probably be unable to stop. The comments were only
meant to provide something that might be done in class to get folks to give
the hesitant folks a bit more confidence while making mistakes, getting
help, and then trying again so the dance itself isn't a bunch of pointing,
shouting, and four dancers getting to the center of the set at the same time
while doing a reel. Again, it isn't a social -- its a CLASS. Restarting a
dance isn't a sin and the dancers can still have a good time.

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19024 · Norah Link · 25 Oct 1999 18:21:28 · Top

>>>> Marjorie McLaughlin <marjoriem@home.com> 24/10/99 01:58 pm >>>
>> >...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.
><<<

I've been concerned about the content of this conversation mostly because we get
away so quickly from the context of the original comment. Marjorie has made a
valid point, and I would hate to think that remarks about taking responsibility
for one's own dancing or learning to help people "the right way" would mean
someone would never sacrifice a bit (or a lot) of their own dancing to help
someone through. On the other hand, I have watched people get frustrated, and I
have watched individual dancing skills deteriorate and bad habits develop without
much success in really helping anyone, because dancers either don't know HOW to
help or don't know how to get the help they need. The place to teach these things
is in class.

I think the ORIGINAL comment - and Ron Wallace's response to it - were likely in
a workshop or class setting, where we sometimes get so enthusiastic helping
newcomers that we forget it is the teacher's job and training to do the same.
Sometimes if we help too much (or the wrong way), the dancer becomes dependent and
doesn't learn anything, and our own dancing suffers. Knowing Ron, I would guess
that he was responding to a complaint by saying "take responsibility for your own
dancing and enjoyment - if you're having problems helping this person, let me do
it, it's my job".

I have watched entire sets fall apart because someone was so determined to help
without knowing how to do it, and have had to pull a class up and say "well, since
you asked me to be here to teach you, maybe you'd like to regroup and listen to
what I have to say now". As long as you realize that sometimes getting befuddled
and trying to rescue things is half the fun for a class (and can be quite
instructive on its own), it's not usually a problem. But when people are getting
frustrated, you need to take a different tack.

I like Bruce's notion of teaching dancers how to deal with mistakes. I also
remember when I reached the stage of wanting to help dancers through myself but
not being sure how to do it. I asked Ruth Jappy, and she said "the easy answer:
1. know the dance cold yourself so you can do it and think about what your partner
needs to do at the same time without messing up yourself, and 2. once they're set
on their path for the current figure, give them a verbal cue for the next figure,
calmly and in enough time for them to respond to it - usually 2 bars ahead". More
or less. I think if we also teach some basic principles of dancing, such as
leading and following (with arms and with eyes, voice and ears) then dancers can
learn to help each other more effectively. Of course, some people take to it more
naturally than others. But I have found dancers quickly acquire bad habits if we
don't teach it and reinforce it.

Now, please take all of this with the appropriate grains of salt. As Marjorie has
said, we are all here to enjoy ourselves and to enjoy being together. (Aside:
the other week in a social class, one of the dancers asked their set if they could
please have a bit more togetherness. It was one of the best ways of asking for
covering that I've heard!)

best regards,
Norah

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19031 · Bruce Hamilton · 25 Oct 1999 20:14:59 · Top

Stewart Cunningham <stewartc@bc.sympatico.ca> writes:
>I don't think that the original request for an objective set of tests
>has ever been answered except for one delightful tongue-in-cheek reply.

I thought the Seattle branch had these. Can anyone from there
comment?

At the risk of adding noise, here's another tongue-in-cheek reply. I
think it was the New Mexico workshop and Rick Wood's wit that included
this self-assessment (done here from memory):
I feel comfortable correcting:
1. My spouse
2. Myself
3. My partner
4. My set
5. My teacher
6. Miss Milligan

Besides the range, I particularly liked the ordering of 1 & 2.

Bruce Hamilton Hewlett-Packard Laboratories MS-4AD
Phone 650-857-2818 PO Box 10150, Palo Alto, CA 94303-0889
Fax 650-852-8092 bruce_hamilton@hpl.hp.com

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19035 · Marjorie McLaughlin · 25 Oct 1999 21:18:13 · Top

> Stewart Cunningham <stewartc@bc.sympatico.ca> writes:
> >I don't think that the original request for an objective set of tests has ever been answered except for one delightful tongue-in-cheek reply.
>

An article in the September 1998 TACTalk written by Dave Wilson, and
reprinted from the Portland Branch's Ghillie Gazette, offers half a
dozen guidelines for assessing dancing skill. Some of them are
subjective, self-assessing criteria, others are suggestions for tools to
aid in learning that could be followed by a teacher or a dancer. At the
end he provides a list of figures (developed by the Boston Branch) which
distinguish beginner from intermediate/advanced figures. Hardly a
fool-proof "set of objective tests", but at least a place to start.

The TAC Executive and the editor of TACTalk encourage Branch newsletters
to reprint articles such as this one so that they reach dancers of all
levels, not just teachers.

Perhaps the article could also be posted on the Strathspey archives.

Marjorie McLaughlin
San Diego, CA

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19039 · Priscilla M. Burrage · 25 Oct 1999 21:47:53 · Top

On Mon, 25 Oct 1999, Marjorie McLaughlin wrote:

> > Stewart Cunningham <stewartc@bc.sympatico.ca> writes:
> > >I don't think that the original request for an objective set of tests has ever been answered except for one delightful tongue-in-cheek reply.
> >
>
> An article in the September 1998 TACTalk written by Dave Wilson, and
> reprinted from the Portland Branch's Ghillie Gazette, offers half a
> dozen guidelines for assessing dancing skill. Some of them are
> subjective, self-assessing criteria, others are suggestions for tools to
> aid in learning that could be followed by a teacher or a dancer. At the
> end he provides a list of figures (developed by the Boston Branch) which
> distinguish beginner from intermediate/advanced figures. Hardly a
> fool-proof "set of objective tests", but at least a place to start.

It is a very thoughtful list written by an experienced dancer. But I use
it as my list of which figures to be sure that I've taught my students,
not as a test for excluding dancers.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Priscilla Burrage Vermont US
(pburrage@zoo.uvm.edu)

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19040 · barbara mcculloch · 25 Oct 1999 23:07:48 · Top

There are much more than three aspects of advanced dancing!!!

______________________________________________________
Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19042 · barbara mcculloch · 26 Oct 1999 00:06:26 · Top

Sorry - a week late in this particular thread. Comment was simply in
response to the gentleman who presented his assessment of needs for
promotion to an advanced class.

______________________________________________________
Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19043 · Pia Walker · 26 Oct 1999 00:11:23 · Top

Hi lovely Alan

Don't be distressed - I acknowledge that the question should be asked, it
was some of the answers which caused severe bitemarks.

What about asking the absolute best of the dancers (Yes some are better than
others) to got through the difficult dance first - walk it, and dance it -
as it should be done - with the crit. being directed at their advanced
level.

Then get the rest onto the floor and walk it, dance it and direct the crit.
towards their level.

A) The ones who want to dance above class level - get their turn.
b) the ones who wants to get to that stage gets to see what is expected of
them.
c) in an ideal world everyone should now be happy :>)

alternative

People interested in improving their technique - start half an hour
earlier -

people interested in dancing the most intricate dances (one a night) and
this is for VERY experienced dancers / by invitation only / or whatever
excuse you can make up, dance one dance after everyone else has gone.

Remember diplomacy is the name of the game.

bye for now

Pia

>It's me again, the one who started this thread!
>
>I was distressed to read the last message from Pia (whom I know
>personally - a lovely lady - Hi Pia!). There was nothing further from my
>thoughts as I posted the original question than to imply that any
>elitist structure be set up and/or maintained.
>
>In as few words as possible, the original question follows:
>
>I have 2 classes/groups. One is for complete beginners and elementary
>level. The other is for those who like to be able to dance more complex
>dances and not have to be nursemaids (IMPORTANT: this is only for about
>one third of the evening's timetable. Social dancing is the larger
>part).
>
>If we are to avoid being elitist, then no group anywhere should have
>more than one level of instruction. I do not necessarily like the idea
>that there are different levels of ability. (Hey, if I myself could only
>dance as well as Ron Wallace, Anna Holden, Linda Gaul, Elke, my wife or
>Juergen Munz...!). But they exist - and ignoring them would not be a
>wise thing to (IMHO).
>
>I was looking for assistance in explaining to my wayward students that
>they, as elementary level dancers, would not be able to take part
>successfully in the other group.
>
>My heartfelt thanks to those who have offered their advice. I will be
>doing my best to follow some of it.
>
>Alan
>
>--
>Alan Paterson
>Berne, Switzerland
>mailto:alan@scottap.com
>
>
>

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19046 · ron.mackey · 26 Oct 1999 00:31:43 · Top


> On the other hand, I have watched people get frustrated, and I
> have watched individual dancing skills deteriorate and bad habits develop without
> much success in really helping anyone, because dancers either don't know HOW to
> help or don't know how to get the help they need. The place to teach these things
> is in class.
>
> I think the ORIGINAL comment - and Ron Wallace's response to it - were likely in
> a workshop or class setting, where we sometimes get so enthusiastic helping
> newcomers that we forget it is the teacher's job and training to do the same.
> Sometimes if we help too much (or the wrong way), the dancer becomes dependent and
> doesn't learn anything, and our own dancing suffers.

Hi, Norah,
A nice summary of the dynamics----------
Hands up those whose class contains someone who bears the nickname
' BossyBoots' ?
The kind who is always helpful, has a strong right arm to give the
unresponsive a hefty shove in the back, (often in the wrong
direction) and is so busy helping all and sundry (most of whom do
not require it) that the one who goes wrong most often is themselves?
Ah, well............
Cheers, Ron :)

< 0 Ron Mackey,(Purveyor of Pat's Party Pieces)
'O> Mottingham,
/#\ London. UK.
l>
Ron.Mackey@btinternet.com

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19070 · Martin.Sheffield · 26 Oct 1999 13:13:35 · Top

Marjorie wrote:

> I enjoy it when new dancers are obviously
>appreciative of friendly support,

and hate it, when they try to justify their poor phrasing etc, saying they
knew where they were supposed to be, but someone else was ...

They are the ones I'd like to get rid of, the ones that always know what
they should have done, if someone else hadn't gotten in their way.

Martin,
in Grenoble, France.

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19100 · Trans Vector Technologies, Inc · 27 Oct 1999 20:27:17 · Top

>the ones that always know what
>they should have done, if someone else hadn't gotten in their way.

I usually find that the dancers who are in the middle of a mess-up are not
good judges of what caused the problem. In a class situation, that
identification is really the job of the teacher, as is the judgement of
whether it was an isolated incident that should be overlooked or whether it
was an example of a chronic problem that should be worked on. As the
observing teacher, I find that my analysis is often quite different from
what the dancers thought happened.

In social situations, post-mortems are not usually helpful. Whatever
happened, happened--you can't undo it. In the heat of the dance, your
analysis of the problem is likely to miss the mark. Furthermore, it is far
better to keep moving and spend your mental energy on making the remainder
of the dance work.

Bruce's picture of mistakes being part of the fabric of dancing and the
corrollary that error recovery is an important dancing skill correlates
well with my own view.

On the subject of helping OTHER dancers... Being truly helpful takes a lot
of skill and sensitivity. I think most dancers lack the personal bandwidth
to keep their own dancing on track and to do a good job directing someone
else. That is why I believe the most effective way of helping other dancers
is to focus first on your own dancing and on being a good partner. Your
attention should be on the people in your immediate vicinity. Let everyone
else do what they will. By being at the right place, at the right time and
projecting your expectations of the other dancers with your body
presentation, you become an anchor (and a good example) for dancers who are
less sure of themselves. Furthermore, WHEN (not if) you mess up yourself,
damage control is a lot easier if you have not been trying to direct
others in the set.

It is very difficult for the teachers in us to stop directing. But teachers
especially should be disciplined in this regard and provide an example to
other dancers for how to be a supportive set member. Shouting across the
set does not help anybody.

Cheers, Oberdan.

Trans Vector Technologies, Inc, 184 Estaban Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010-1611
Phone: (805)484-2775, FAX: (805)484-2718, EMail: ootto@tvt.com

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19102 · Norah Link · 27 Oct 1999 21:01:19 · Top

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Oberdan Otto [mailto:ootto@tvt.com]
> Sent: October 27, 1999 12:27 PM
>
> I usually find that the dancers who are in the middle of a
> mess-up are not
> good judges of what caused the problem.
>
> [SNIP]
>
> In social situations, post-mortems are not usually helpful.
>
> [SNIP]
>
> On the subject of helping OTHER dancers... Being truly
> helpful takes a lot
> of skill and sensitivity. I think most dancers lack the
> personal bandwidth
> to keep their own dancing on track and to do a good job
> directing someone
> else. That is why I believe the most effective way of helping
> other dancers
> is to focus first on your own dancing and on being a good
> partner.
> [ETC.]
>
> It is very difficult for the teachers in us to stop
> directing. But teachers
> especially should be disciplined in this regard and provide
> an example to
> other dancers for how to be a supportive set member.

Oberdan -

A clear description of the best way to be a helpful and supportive partner.
If you can keep these principles in mind, and add just a LITTLE extra help
when necessary and WHEN YOU KNOW YOU CAN, this generally works very well
indeed. And if it doesn't, well... hopefully the music was good and
everyone can laugh about it.

Thanks!

Norah

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19128 · Cecilia Stolzer Grote · 29 Oct 1999 02:11:51 · Top

Message text written by INTERNET:strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.d=
e
>
I don't think that the original request for an objective set of tests
has ever been answered except for one delightful tongue-in-cheek reply.<

I seem to remember that the Boston Branch had a written set of items that=

indicated what level a dancer is at. One of our teachers in the San
Francisco class brought it back with her. As I recall, there were lists
for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. Each listed figures that a
dancer should be competent dancing before being sent to the next level of=

class. Perhaps someone in the Boston Branch could comment?

On the subject of walk-throughs. A class I used to attend regularly had
suffered by being taught to the "lowest common denominator". I was amaze=
d
when a guest teacher came to our class and taught to a class that had bee=
n
described as an intermediate social class. The entire level of the class=

rose to the level he was teaching to, it was an absolutely amazing
transformation.

Just my 2 cents' worth.

Cecilia Stolzer-Grote
RSCDS San Francisco Branch

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 19071 · Martin.Sheffield · 26 Oct 1999 13:16:41 · Top

A wrote:
>this is an important subject and one that is a challenge which
>should be faced and overcome by the SCD dancing and teaching community.

Amibiguous. What do you want to overcome? the challenge of new-comers that
want to join in and spoil you fun?
Or the challenge of having old-timers with fixed attitudes?

B wrote:
>Those who achieve a third position when they should, all the way through,
>are Advanced Class dancers.

Tongue in cheek, I presume.

Pia wrote:
>The only true objective tests should be a willingness to observe dance
>etiquette and help others - both those who are better than one-self and
>those who are not so good.

Thank you, Pia !

The more dancers, the more dancing -- and the easier it will be to dilute
the few really impossible people in the ocean of capable ones.

Martin,
in Grenoble, France.

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18993 · Priscilla M. Burrage · 23 Oct 1999 20:39:31 · Top

On Sat, 23 Oct 1999, M Sheffield wrote:

> Reading your messages late at night after returning from my Friday
> beginners' class ...
>
> Last week, we guided a whole bunch of new people through "St Andrews Fair"
> (perfect beginners' dance, imho, and I like Ron Gonella's recording of it).
> This evening I walked one new person through, then asked who else would
> like to walk as first couple (expecting we 'd have to walk at least 4
> times, if not more), and no-one wanted to ! ! !
> On your own heads be it, thought I, as I put on the music -- and both sets
> were almost perfect.
> I haven't recovered yet.
> If they have confidence in themselves, they'll get it right, and,
> apparently, seeing the figures walked through once was enough to give them
> that confidence.
> And on the strength of that succesful piece of dancing, we went on to have
> a whole evening of reasonably well-done dances, so much so, that I had
> difficulty persuading them to go home at the end of the prescribed two
> hours ! "More," they said. "Let's do some more."
> I'm not sure I'm going to survive this year.

Congratulations on having an ideal class. Hope they stay with you for
some time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Priscilla Burrage Vermont US
(pburrage@zoo.uvm.edu)

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18997 · John Sturrock · 24 Oct 1999 15:35:12 · Top

Stewart Cunningham wrote : -

>I don't think that the original request for an objective set of tests
>has ever been answered except for one delightful tongue-in-cheek reply.
>There has been lots of anecdotal information and considerable chat about
>the difficulties that a few dancers cause when they don't know their
>level of ability. However, getting back to the original request - Are
>there any objective tests of dancing ability? My observation would be
>that this is an important subject and one that is a challenge which
>should be faced and overcome by the SCD dancing and teaching community.

There is a difficulty here. Any test(s) must either be completed with a
partner/set, or on their own. Both may give a misleading impression of
ability to dance in an Advance Class. Someone suggested Corner, Partner,
Corner, Partner, but the result may well depend on the amount of
co-operation from the Corners and/or Partner. On their own, many Beginners,
who would otherwise be unlikely to be at home in an Advance Class can manage
a surprisingly good set of steps in a straight line, or on the spot. What
is needed is something that removes both disadvantages - test(s) that
involve others, but do not depend on their co-operation.

My favourite is to observe 6 hands round, and back, in Strathspey time -
particularly when the dancers are unaware they are being observed. Those
who achieve a third position when they should, all the way through, are
Advanced Class dancers.

Less seriously - watch the dancers tie their ghillie laces. Those who can
do this without sitting down, or using any form of support, have the
combination of flexibility, co-ordination, and balance, to dance in an
Advanced Class whether their dancing experience extends to 5 hours or 50
years. Infallible ! The drawback is that many undoubted Advanced Class
dancers would fail. Try it !!

John Sturrock.

John.M.Sturrock@btinternet.com

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18977 · Priscilla M. Burrage · 22 Oct 1999 04:37:39 · Top

Alan, I think Norah's advice is excellent. What you have to do is find
out why those two have the opinion that they would be better off in
another class. If they think that they are ready, anything you say that
goes against that belief will just be held against you. The approach of
working with them so they will be 'comfortable' entering the class is an
excellent one.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Priscilla Burrage Vermont US
(pburrage@zoo.uvm.edu)

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18984 · Norah Link · 22 Oct 1999 21:15:14 · Top

>>> <strathspey-request@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de> 21/10/99 07:08 pm >>>
Another thing I have noticed is that many classes feel like they have to walk
a dance through all eight times before they can do it.
<<<

There are lots of different ways to approach this, some more frightening for
people than others. One way, as suggested, is to do recently-taught dances from a
talk-through only. Another way is to give them the figures individually, but
insist that they listen then dance the figure to music (no walking). Then work
that up to 16-bar phrases, and eventually a whole dance.

One teacher I know will set aside part of an evening sometime during the year and
say "okay, we're going to find out how much we know...", then have the top 1/2/3
couples dance some figure or combination of figures right from a talk-through,
then drop to the bottom. She starts really easy so they get used to the idea, and
gradually gets more challenging with figure/# bars combination. Really lets
people see what they know.

Some teachers will choose a simple dance to do at the beginning of an evening from
a talk-through only. Marj Kripp, who taught the Intermediate Technique class for
many years in Montreal, used to ALWAYS start with a dance from a talk-through
only. We would usually dance once through, she would then (occasionally after
picking herself up the floor after laughing so hard at our efforts) review "what
went wrong" or "what could have been better" and why - so we learned the technique
for doing the dance properly, and also how to analyze a dance (not just remember
it) to anticipate the required phrasing so it wouldn't completely fall apart on
the first go. So we got lots of practice listening and remembering. I don't
think Marj would have stood for anyone saying they couldn't do a dance from a
talk-through, at least not night after night and not in that class.

regards,
Norah

Objective tests to determine dancing ability

Message 18986 · Bruce Hamilton · 23 Oct 1999 03:18:08 · Top

Maclachlan@aol.com said:
>...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...

to which "Richard L Walker" <rlwalker@granis.net> said:
>... Ron Wallace addressed this very issue at a workshop once. He
>asked (essentially), "Why are you shepherding anyone through a
>dance?" His advice was to let everyone make their own mistakes and
>ultimately assume responsibility for their own dancing...

and Norah Link <norah@cae.ca> added:
>Sage advice, indeed. Especially when "shepherding" involves being
>out of place yourself. Doesn't set the best example to your partner...

I like Ron's goal: teaching dancers to take responsibility for their
own dancing. I dislike the method (as it's described here): ceasing
to help. That works, but it has casualties and side effects: solo
dancing, people who think correctness more important than sociability,
people staying home, people afraid to make mistakes, etc. I'm also
having a hard time imagining myself being unhelpful in a friendly way.
On the other hand, I fully agree with Norah's comment.

I don't have The Answer, but what I've done in the last few years is
to teach "dealing with mistakes" as a skill in its own right. In
basic class I teach dealing with your own mistakes; people learn to
see them as part of the fabric, to think ahead to the next figure
rather than back to the mistake, and they learn to craft smooth
recoveries on the fly. As a side effect, it doesn't occur to them
that someone else making a mistake is in any way "bad."

In upper-level classes I teach dealing with others' mistakes. I've
been less successful here, partly because I've started this more
recently, and partly because the dancers have to unlearn habits. But
where it has worked the dancers are friendly, they don't grab or push,
they don't talk (a challenge for teachers!), they don't get out of
place themselves, they (usually) don't get annoyed by the mistake, and
they still provide good support.

While teaching that mistakes are part of the fabric, I haven't found
that people care less about getting it right, only that they are more
forgiving when it goes wrong. That fits my own experience with a ski
instructor whose first lesson was "lie down in the snow. Now, when
(not if) this happens to you, here's how to get up..." I still tried
desperately to stay on my feet.

This seems a happy medium between asking a set to devote most of its
energy to the least experienced dancers, and leaving those dancers to
work it out for themselves.

Bruce Hamilton Hewlett-Packard Laboratories MS-4AD
Phone 650-857-2818 PO Box 10150, Palo Alto, CA 94303-0889
Fax 650-852-8092 bruce_hamilton@hpl.hp.com

Dealing with mistakes

Message 19094 · ferguson · 27 Oct 1999 12:06:30 · Top

On Fri, 22 Oct 1999 Bruce Hamilton wrote:

> ..... what I've done in the last few years is to teach "dealing
> with mistakes" as a skill in its own right. In basic class I teach
> dealing with your own mistakes; .......... In upper-level classes I
> teach dealing with others' mistakes. I've been less successful
> here, .... partly because the dancers have to unlearn habits. But
> where it has worked the dancers are friendly, they don't grab or
> push, they don't talk (a challenge for teachers!), they don't get
> out of place themselves, they (usually) don't get annoyed by the
> mistake, and they still provide good support.

Could Bruce tell us a bit more of what he teaches, and about what
habits we have to unlearn?

One recurring question you face when dancing with less
experienced dancers is when to give discreet signs to help them
avoid going wrong. I remember sometimes feeling irritated by
such signs ("I don't need that help. I know perfectly well where I am
going"), and in quite similar situations feeling relief ("thanks for that
hint; you saved me from making a blooper").

On recovering from chaos: at a class this year in Proitzer Muehle
(Germany) we had just learnt the complicated 6-couple 48-bar
dance "Water Mill" (by John Mitchell). At a certain moment the set
fell apart, and - to everyone's surprise - we recovered and danced
on. I still have no idea of how we managed that.

Happy dancing,

Eric

Eric T. Ferguson, van Dormaalstraat 15, 5624 KH EINDHOVEN, Netherlands
tel: +31-40-243 2878 fax: +31-40-246 7036 e-mail: e.ferguson@antenna.nl

Dealing with mistakes

Message 19103 · Bruce Hamilton · 27 Oct 1999 21:29:02 · Top

On Wed, 27 Oct 1999, "Eric Ferguson" <ferguson@antenna.nl> wrote:
>Could Bruce tell us a bit more of what he teaches, and about what
>habits we have to unlearn?

Margaret Connors asked me the same thing. I will write this up, but I
haven't time for a few weeks. In the meantime, we can have a useful
discussion. Let me ask you all, the next time you make a mistake, to
notice:
* What kind of help would you have liked? Be specific: would you
have liked to feel something? To see something? To hear
something? A combination of those? What would it have been --
what touch, what image, what sounds?
* When would you have liked it? For example, two bars before you
went wrong? One bar? One beat? Just after you realized you
wanted help?
* How many people would you have liked the help from? Which one(s)?
Where were they at the time?

And report to the list. It's hard to notice or remember all those
things, so just report on what you did notice and remember. Also, in
doing this, you'll sometimes make other mistakes as a result. Stay
focussed on the first one, or you'll wind up not remembering anything.

It is tempting to speculate on what other people want, or should want,
but it's more valuable to hear what you did want. I'll bet we see
some interesting patterns. (In fact, I suspect that in a week or two
my report will have little to add; but I still promise to write it.)

I'll be at the San Francisco Branch's Asilomar workshop this weekend,
where I plan to make my share of mistakes. I'll try to keep notes
too, and report on Monday.

>One recurring question you face when dancing with less experienced
>dancers is when to give discreet signs to help them avoid going wrong.
>I remember sometimes feeling irritated by such signs ("I don't need
>that help. I know perfectly well where I am going"), and in quite
>similar situations feeling relief ("thanks for that hint; you saved me
>from making a blooper").

This is an excellent point: how to tell whether help is wanted. My
answer (which is surely not The Answer) is that you guess, *and then
pay attention to what happens*. You can often tell when your help was
unwanted or unhelpful. If you keep doing this and genuinely care
about the results, your skill at guessing improves.

-Bruce

Bruce Hamilton Hewlett-Packard Laboratories MS-4AD
Phone 650-857-2818 PO Box 10150, Palo Alto, CA 94303-0889
Fax 650-852-8092 bruce_hamilton@hpl.hp.com

Dealing with mistakes

Message 19105 · Marilynn Knight · 27 Oct 1999 22:09:04 · Top

I am so happy you asked, Bruce, what help we do/do not like!!! I
despise it when someone speaks advice to me during a dance. I love eye
contact and, in fact, depend on it. I remember some moments when I
averted mistakes thanks to unspoken eye contact/body language, one,
especially, when a particular fine dancer in our region, an engineer by
profession, gave me friendly, strong eye contact that directed me to his
extended toe which indicated that the reel for three was on the
diagonal. It was my saving moment. No one else in the set noticed, but
I gratefully continued the dance in sheer enjoyment. I knew I had been
saved a screw-up. This particular dancer & I had not, and have not, ever
been partners, in my memory. But he clearly knew my often distracted
state was a potential mini-land mine. But the team managed to avoid
it.... I hadn't known the dance before and didn't remember it after,
save for that indelible moment, testimony to the power of eye contact.

I also despise it when someone decides to push/pull another dancer,
especially those who feel free to grab the elbow when in a
couple-turn....

I only want/need the help of one person at a time.... My students are
NOT impressed by teachers who coach, either in the set or on the
sidelines..

I wonder about those who are quick to give unasked-for verbal help. I
suspect it is more to draw attention to themselves and how superior they
are...

Amen!!!

Dealing with mistakes (long)

Message 19106 · Joy Gullikson · 27 Oct 1999 23:33:00 · Top

I, too appreciate good eye contact. If I am lost in a set, it probably
shows in my eyes--and I am exceedingly grateful for meaningful glances or a
hand held out a trifle early for a turn (accompanied by a smile).

When I am teaching, particularly coaching for performances, I stress the use
of body language and eye contact first before speech because dancing is a
team effort. We work a lot on mistakes, not only on how the person making
the mistake should deal with it, but how the rest of the set should respond.
If body language is insufficient to correct the mistake, I ask that one
person only should speak--how can a dancer possibly hear two or more sets of
instruction?

There is one exercise I particularly like for advanced dancers, to build
teamwork and to remind dancers of what it was like to be a beginner and
confused. I make up an easy dance and let only the top couple know what to
do. Everyone else has to pay attention and respond to body and facial
cues--no talking allowed.

I have made some observations regarding the maturing of dancers, and wonder
if anyone else notices the same or similar:

It seems to me that enthusiastic dancers often pass through identifiable
stages of maturity as dancers: as beginners, they are attentive and
studious and willing to work hard--they take direction. Their smiles when
they "get it" are infectious.

Then comes early intermediate dancers. They've learned the rhythm of the
pas-de-basque, they understand that the skip change starts with a hop, and
they want to share their knowledge. These typically are the well meaning
but high maintenance students who will speak over the teacher to coach a
newbie, and are the ones most likely to push people into place. They do not
notice their own imperfections. The challenge as teachers is to keep the
enthusiasm but redirect their efforts from assisting everyone into improving
their own dancing. These dancers rarely take direction well, but often give
it to any and all.

It is tough to move out of this adolescent-like stage of dancing. Keeping
quiet when you see how improvement could happen is very difficult,
especially for some teachers who are dancing as a member of a set rather
than as a teacher.

If the dancers can be moved beyond the middle stage (some never can and some
do skip it entirely), they become mature dancers--those dancers who are fun
to have in a set, whether their footwork is technically superior or not.
They know how to enjoy themselves and even more, know how to help others
have fun. They are not judgmental, and take direction, which rarely needs
to be given.

Joy Gullikson
Twin Cities, Minnesota

Dealing with mistakes (long)

Message 19114 · Priscilla M. Burrage · 28 Oct 1999 18:00:01 · Top

On Wed, 27 Oct 1999, Joy Gullikson wrote:
{snip}

> When I am teaching, particularly coaching for performances, I stress the use
> of body language and eye contact first before speech because dancing is a
> team effort. We work a lot on mistakes, not only on how the person making
> the mistake should deal with it, but how the rest of the set should respond.

We should really teach "smooth recovery" in all our classes. it's as
important for social dancing as for performance dancing. One exception
though: BSCD (Before Scottish), when I was doing just performance
dancing, I learned that one should, while recovering from a mistake, look
as though all the other dancers were the ones who made the mistake. I
don't think that has any place on a social dance floor.

> I have made some observations regarding the maturing of dancers, and wonder
> if anyone else notices the same or similar:
>
>
> It seems to me that enthusiastic dancers often pass through identifiable
> stages of maturity as dancers: as beginners, they are attentive and
> studious and willing to work hard--they take direction. Their smiles when
> they "get it" are infectious.

And so rewarding for the teacher!
>
> Then comes early intermediate dancers.
> . . . . they want to share their knowledge.

> . . . students who will speak over the teacher to coach a
> newbie, and are the ones most likely to push people into place.
> They do not notice their own imperfections.

True also of the inexperienced teacher in another teacher's class.

Hardest for any teacher is to be in one of your teacher-candidate's
classes. . . You've been interupting them for thirty hours of classes.
why stop now?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Priscilla Burrage Vermont US
(pburrage@zoo.uvm.edu)

Dealing with mistakes

Message 19113 · Priscilla M. Burrage · 28 Oct 1999 17:42:49 · Top

On Wed, 27 Oct 1999, Bruce Hamilton wrote (snip):

> On Wed, 27 Oct 1999, "Eric Ferguson" <ferguson@antenna.nl> wrote:
> >Could Bruce tell us a bit more of what he teaches, and about what
> >habits we have to unlearn?

A bad habit teachers have:
Getting into a circle early by either stepping into it or raising your
hands before the music. I cured myself (most of the time) of raising my
hands early by asking my class to help me not do it. In the process, they
learned not do it also.

> Let me ask you all, the next time you make a mistake, to notice:

> * What kind of help would you have liked? Be specific: would you
> have liked to feel something? To see something? To hear
> something? A combination of those? What would it have been --
> what touch, what image, what sounds?

Non-verbal. It is so unpleasant when someone in my set or another set
starts giving dance directions. Always is in a loud, commanding tone. I
am so embarrasses to be the recipient of such directions that I can
remember incidents of being told what to do from the 1950's. -- and I
remember who it was.

I remember watching a man in my set give his partner nonverbal directions
by moving his eyebrows and eyes. I was so fascinated, I nearly forgot
the dance. I still cherish this memory.

> * When would you have liked it? For example, two bars before you
> went wrong? One bar? One beat? Just after you realized you
> wanted help?

Ahead of time: Only if I indicate by look of panic to my partner that I
need help from my partner. OK, so I've been known to give this look to an
oveerconfident partner, but that's another story.)

Examples of best help: Just when I need it. From partner, just lift right
hand slightly if I'm to dance turn right with you -- or cross right. (One
little hint and the dance will drop back into my memory bank.) A twitch
of the shoulder lets me know there's a reel coming up. Clear your throat
if I'm looking the wrong way.

> * How many people would you have liked the help from? Which one(s)?
> Where were they at the time?

Would the teachers in the set please keep quiet. I danced in a set of
all teachers last month. We all went awry, we all laughed, none of us
told the others what to do. It was heaven.

Have I said it loud enough: Don't tell me what to do by speaking to me --
or yelling at me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Priscilla Burrage Vermont US
(pburrage@zoo.uvm.edu)

Dealing with mistakes

Message 19117 · Bruce Hamilton · 28 Oct 1999 22:14:03 · Top

Marilynn, Joy and Priscilla have posted the kind of help they like and
dislike. I hope many others will too, even just to agree with what
someone else has said. The value of this kind of exploration comes
when you hear the number of people with each point of view, not merely
what the viewpoints are.

So far we've heard three people tell us what they generally like and
dislike. If that's what you want to post, please do. But I'll bet we
can surprise and teach each other (and ourselves) if we also post
about a specific, recent incident.

I'll give it a shot: last night I let my attention wander in class, so
that I wasn't ready for a figure. My partner caught my eye, but too
late for me to join successfully. What would have helped? Her "hey,
you!" look sooner (I guess she did it about half a bar before we
began, and I'd guess that somewhere between 1 and 2 bars would have
done it). I wasn't actually looking anywhere -- I was thinking -- but
she was in my field of view. No one else could have caught my eye.

I would also have responded to someone quietly speaking my name in
about the same time interval. No other sound would have awakened me:
there were plenty of sounds, and I was ignoring them all. The sound
would have had to come from the direction of the dancers who needed
me; if it had come from somewhere else I would have turned my
attention there instead.

This second mode -- my name -- surprises me, since I'm a visual
learner. But let's not draw any conclusions until we've heard some
more reports. For example, in this instance I knew what the figure
was; what I forgot was that I was part of it. I suspect that I want
different kinds of help for different kinds of mistake. Wait and see;
I'll make them as fast as I can :-)

Bruce Hamilton Hewlett-Packard Laboratories MS-4AD
Phone 650-857-2818 PO Box 10150, Palo Alto, CA 94303-0889
Fax 650-852-8092 bruce_hamilton@hpl.hp.com

Dealing with mistakes

Message 19145 · Bruce Hamilton · 29 Oct 1999 20:37:27 · Top

[Anselm, my last issue of the digest gave all these subject lines as
"Unidentified subject!". I think this is a thread worth keeping --
can you check that they're OK in the archives?]

This is a wonderful, lively discussion! I especially like Norah's
comment about helping out of habit, and Peter Hastings' note that
we'll often receive help in the form that the helper wants to give. I
suspect that by the time I get to writing up my notes, all the points
will have been made.

I still think there's an opportunity for us to learn more than we
already know about this subject. Most of us have detailed information
about how WE like to get help, but not about how others do. Please,
if you happen to make a mistake :-) tell us in detail about a specific
experience. Your perspective may be different from ours; and if many
people report in, we may see some categories. (Mel, you've drawn fine
ones. I'm not suggesting that they're incorrect, just hoping for some
live data to confirm them and perhaps suggest others).

Norah,
> Was this a quick-time or a strathspey?
Quick-time.
> What was the figure you were too late to join?
Four hands across.
> What is your definition of "successfully"?
It depends on the figure. In this one I stayed out because I'd have
had to muck up my steps and posture to join without slowing down the
other dancers. If staying out would have confused them (e.g. if it
were reel of 3) I'd have joined in. If the figure would have put me
in a new place, I'd have joined in. Is that what you wanted to know?

-Bruce

Bruce Hamilton Hewlett-Packard Laboratories MS-4AD
Phone 650-857-2818 PO Box 10150, Palo Alto, CA 94303-0889
Fax 650-852-8092 bruce_hamilton@hpl.hp.com

Dealing with mistakes

Message 19147 · Melbourne Briscoe · 29 Oct 1999 22:54:49 · Top

Big mistake in "helping:" I mistakenly tried to "get a set of dancers
through" Irish Rover. I was in the last set to form. "Ellie will help us
through this!" Unfortunately, we didn't have critical mass of dancers
either who could respond to cues, or who already knew the dance. I wound
up trying to cue four people who responded neither to verbal nor visual
cues, and raising my voice way too much through sheer frustration,
because it was clear they expected me to help. If this situation
presents itself again, I think I will just let the set grind to a halt.
They might get frustrated at that point, but maybe they'll learn that
they need to learn the skills, and then everyone will have more fun.

At the opposite end of the spectrum: I know a dancer who has had a head
injury and memory loss, who knows that she cannot remember how the dance
goes. She loses it between the briefing and the first chord, and it
doesn't really matter how simple it is or how often she's done it. She
watches her partner for cues, and when the cues are given subtly, you
can't even tell she can't anticipate what comes next. She appreciates
quiet cuing slightly in advance so she can have her momentum carry her
in the right direction. She is fun to have in the set, IF her partner OR
someone else in the set can provide the cues.

I love it when someone sees I've blanked out and says, "Ellie -- reel!"
or just reaches out to take my hand. I've not been dancing much for the
last year due to injury, and I guarantee you the first muscle that loses
all its tone is your brain. The ability to link figures and remember
what comes next is the first thing to go...

Ellie Briscoe
Alexandria VA USA

Dealing with mistakes

Message 19148 · Bert Post · 29 Oct 1999 23:15:25 · Top

Sure, it's only dancing. It's also living with others.
Like holding doors open for another.

Most appreciate:
- Dancing round a partner instead of turning when she is frail, or hurts.
- Walking a poussette with her.
When she hesitates:
- Pointing my left hand to indicate "Dance up" for the reel of 3 in Mairi's
Wedding.
- Moving a shoulder to indicate how to start reeling.
- Saying or showing: Reel, R+L, Up, Down, etc. when she is "elsewhere."
And I appreciate that myself.

THAT PULL-AND-PUSH THAT FORCES MY "POLITE TURN" AFTER R+L CAN HURT, THOUGH!

Taking chances in being helpful, I am rarely rebuffed.
- Frequent rebuffs: You're not doing it right.
- No rebuffs: You're not trying enough.

Attitude is important: 20 years ago I had to quit dancing, while taking a
teachers course. Some believed I had quit because of the course and the
RSCDS!
But I appreciate the RSCDS. We need it.

We must consider the dancing public, not just "The Club."
Our average age is up, our numbers down. To draw younger people, be more
considerate!
Harsh postings are few, but vocal.
The spirit of SCD is applying the social graces while dancing correctly.

Bert Post

Polite Turns

Message 19156 · Trans Vector Technologies, Inc · 30 Oct 1999 01:25:31 · Top

>THAT PULL-AND-PUSH THAT FORCES MY "POLITE TURN" AFTER R+L CAN HURT, THOUGH!

Yes, one of my hot buttons. Forcing a Polite Turn is never necessary and is
never welcome.

I teach my dancers that one should NEVER force another person to do a
polite turn. The polite turn is something the turnee does for him/herself.
The other dancer can provide a firm arm against which the turnee can push,
but even that is not necessary. Forcing the polite turn can throw the other
dancer off balance or, if s/he did not intend to do a polite turn, could
cause an unpleasantly twisted arm.

For example, the "natural" ending position after the last left hand in
Rights and Lefts is for W1 and M2 to be facing in and for M1 and W2 to be
facing out. The Polite Turn, then, is a final left pivot for M1 and W2 to
face in. Assuming the dancers are moving toward that "natural" end, they
already have leftward turning momentum, so adding a half left pivot takes
very little effort, especially if the other dancer just provides a firm arm
against which to push and balance. The action of the Polite Turn becomes
even easier if both dancers make a point of continuing to look at each
other until both are facing across the set.

Cheers, Oberdan.

Trans Vector Technologies, Inc, 184 Estaban Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010-1611
Phone: (805)484-2775, FAX: (805)484-2718, EMail: ootto@tvt.com

Polite Turns

Message 19181 · Doug Mills · 31 Oct 1999 22:31:37 · Top

Yes, but on what bar do you face your partner during the turnee?

Oberdan Otto wrote:

> <snip> The polite turn is something the turnee does for him/herself.

Polite Turns

Message 19199 · Miriam L. Mueller · 1 Nov 1999 22:41:45 · Top

I will second that warning against "push-and-pull" to the middle partner
turn in corner-partner - some dancers feel that twisting the wrists in
either helps or cues "giving weight" -- it doesn't work for me, as the
pain in my wrist distracts me from using my feet more efficiently!
Miriam
San Francisco

Polite Turns

Message 19201 · Trans Vector Technologies, Inc · 2 Nov 1999 00:05:45 · Top

>[Doug:] Yes, but on what bar do you face your partner during the turnee?
>
>Oberdan Otto wrote:
>
>> <snip> The polite turn is something the turnee does for him/herself.

(Ha, hah!) Sorry for the confusing, cryptic, and probably inappropriate
terminology.

Please read "turnee" [pronounced turn-EEE] as "the person doing the polite
turn".

Most definitely unrelated to our favorite formation the "tournee"
[pronounced too(pursed lips) rrr(slight gutteral) NAY(clipped)].

Cheers, Oberdan.

Trans Vector Technologies, Inc, 184 Estaban Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010-1611
Phone: (805)484-2775, FAX: (805)484-2718, EMail: ootto@tvt.com

Dealing with mistakes

Message 19150 · Trans Vector Technologies, Inc · 30 Oct 1999 00:45:04 · Top

>I would also have responded to someone quietly speaking my name...

That sure works for me if I am not paying attention to the people I should
be. This happens to me most often when I am teaching, but am also needed as
a dancer. Dancing while teaching usually exceeds my bandwidth. Even though
it is verbal, quietly speaking a name is personal, focused and minimalist.
If you don't know the name or can't retrieve it fast enough, a simple
"hello!" or something to that effect would work as an attention-getter.
After the attention-getting, non-verbal helping can resume.

Cheers, Oberdan.

Trans Vector Technologies, Inc, 184 Estaban Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010-1611
Phone: (805)484-2775, FAX: (805)484-2718, EMail: ootto@tvt.com

Dealing with mistakes

Message 19245 · cnordj · 3 Nov 1999 22:34:43 · Top

A brave woman offered to be my "man" in a 2-couple dance that I knew reasonably well
but she apparently did not know well at all. We flailed about miserably until the
M.C. came down off the stage and half-way down a huge room to talk us through it, a
smiling and gracious host. It was not recently; it was at least a decade ago. It was
not even SCD, but ECD, at a Playford Ball in the San Francisco area. The M.C.? Oh,
that was a fellow named Bruce Hamilton. It was decisive, it was verbal, it was
visible. It was just the right thing to do. Thanks again.

Dealing with mistakes

Message 19440 · Keith Grant · 17 Nov 1999 22:00:25 · Top

Bruce Hamilton wrote:
>

> When mistakes occur I ask them to recover on the fly, and see how they
> do. I award verbal gold, silver or bronze stars (gold is immediate or
> exceptionally smooth; silver is a within few bars and not disruptive;
> bronze is before end of the figure). I award stars only for re-
> coveries, never for correctly-executed figures or steps, and the award
> is to the whole set. As their skill at recovering improves I some-
> times shout out "silver!" "aaarrgh," etc., depending on the quality of
> recovery.
>

When Morihei Uyeshiba, the founder of Aikido,
was asked if he ever lost his balance, he
replied, "Yes, all the time, but I regain it
so fast that you do not see me lose it."

--

+-----------------------------+-------------------------------------------+
I Keith Eric Grant I Common sense and a sense of humor are the I
I I same thing, moving at different speeds. I
I Atmospheric Science Div I A sense of humor is just common sense, I
I P.O. Box 808, L-103 I dancing. ... Clive James I
I Lawrence Livrmr Natn'l Lab I I
I EMail: keg@llnl.gov I (or perhaps dancing is just common sense) I
I FAX: (925) 422-5844 I I
+-----------------------------+-------------------------------------------+

Dealing with mistakes

Message 19149 · Trans Vector Technologies, Inc · 30 Oct 1999 00:45:02 · Top

>[Bruce:] Let me ask you all, the next time you make a mistake, to notice...

What a great idea! This should be really interesting.

Cheers, Oberdan.

Trans Vector Technologies, Inc, 184 Estaban Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010-1611
Phone: (805)484-2775, FAX: (805)484-2718, EMail: ootto@tvt.com

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