strathspey Archive: Objective tests to determine dancing ability - long reply

Previous thread: Objective tests to determine dancing ability
Next thread: Frolic on the Fox 4 - Nov. 6, St. Charles, IL

Objective tests to determine dancing ability - long reply

Message 18941 · Dianna Shipman · 20 Oct 1999 23:19:06 · Top

I've seen lists of what figures one should know for various levels - which
isn't really that helpful because it doesn't mean the dancer can get through
the dances. Then people get into the discussion as to whether to teach
"dancing" or "dances". It continues to amaze me the number of people who
have five plus years of classes and are in more advanced classes and know
"dancing" (i.e. the figures) but still can't get through even a simple dance
with only a talk through.

While it's true of MOST of the "traditional" dances (pre 1900) that those
who know "dancing" (the figures and transitions into them) can probably do
them with only a talk through - many of the more recently devised dances are
difficult for even the most experienced dancers to do with only a talk
through (many of the Drewry dances come to mind) - and I don't see how you
can learn "dances" without learning "dancing" but I have seen people learn
"dancing" who never learn "dances" and have to be "nursed" constantly
through programs.

There's a bit of a fiction involved when an "advanced" class repeatedly does
the advanced dances that are on upcoming ball programs and then claim they
do these well at balls because they've learned "dancing" while other classes
are never taught these dances and then are faulted because they haven't
learned to dance well enough, when in fact they just haven't been exposed to
the dances on the ball program. Case in point - Mairi's Wedding gets done
so much that many of our very new dancers get through it quite well.

What I would like (but haven't tried it or seen it tried) is doing a program
of dances (with the program and dance descriptions distributed ahead of
time) arranged by difficulty level and saying that each will be done only
with a talk thru and each time someone gets lost they sit down and see who's
left standing - and the point where they sit out determines the level.

Unfortunately, a lot of "subjective" elements tend to enter into classes
set by "level" which is one reason a prefer a mixed level group. Sometimes
class organizers (1) want to select people they like or who share their
values or point of view or (2) in some cases, select those who will always
go along and never question anything, especially true if you get a very
controlling type in charge or (3) want to reward long term service by
allowing people who help out to attend advanced classes even when they can't
keep up or (4) include their friends or those who are interested in doing
demos, who own kilts or (5) are more likely to be advanced faster because
they're men and in short supply or (6) are one half of a married couple and
the only way the better dancer will come is if the less experienced spouse
is also included.

Sometimes dancers who were once proficient become less so because of
absences from the group, age, health, etc. and can't do more than a couple
of dances without becoming too tired or winded to keep up. Then you get
very inconsistent results that lead to a lot of discontent i.e. how do you
justify including one person in an advanced class who is a long time dancer
but for whatever reason doesn't keep up while excluding others who are just
as good at dancing (but are less experienced, or out of favor for whatever
reason).

When I've had this come up (less experienced wanting to dance everything)
I've found tactful ways to talk to the individuals privately and see what
their interests are - sometimes they just want the social interaction with
the larger group. What has worked for me is to ask those who are less
experienced to watch when we do a trickier dance and then we put it on a
second time and pair them up with more experienced dancers and let them walk
it once and then dance it again - seems to satisfy most people - and by
watching many of them pick it up faster. I also tell the newer people that
the last half of the evening we do trickier dances and some opt for doing
the first half only or only the first half and parts of the second. I also
believe that newer dancers improve far more quickly if they can dance with
more experienced dancers and that all dancers get better the more often they
dance in non-class situations where dances are done with only talk throughs.

Dianna

Dianna L. Shipman
diannashipman@worldnet.att.net
Dianna L. Shipman, P.C., Attorney at Law
PMB 134, 1436 W. Gray
Houston, TX 77019-4946
web page: http://home.att.net/~diannashipman
phone: 713-522-1212
----- Original Message -----
From: Alan Paterson <alanp@paranor.ch>
To: Strathspey <strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de>
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 1999 1:22 PM
Subject: Objective tests to determine dancing ability

> 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
>
>
> --
> Alan Paterson <alanp@paranor.ch>
>
>

Objective tests to determine dancing ability - long reply

Message 18945 · Miriam L. Mueller · 21 Oct 1999 01:11:31 · Top

As an interested observer and dancer (not a teacher) it would seem to me
that it would be easier to evaluate a dancer if the teacher were clear on
exactly what he/she needs for the specific class. If the teacher wants
the class to be able to do a traditional dance from a talk-through,
anyone who can't manage this is not prepared for THAT class, regardless
of dancing expertise or experience. Similarly, if you will be teaching
complex modern dances, you may need all class members to know lots of
figures - that is not the place to learn crossover mirror reels, for
instance. Would you exclude someone who can do everything you require -
but with poor technique?
Just my amateur 2 cents to stir the pot.
Miriam
San Francisco

Objective tests to determine dancing ability - long reply

Message 18948 · Dianna Shipman · 21 Oct 1999 07:43:42 · Top

Personally if people can be in the right place at the right time and have a
good attitude and a smile - I'm quite happy with them - regardless of their
technique.
Dianna
Dianna L. Shipman
diannashipman@worldnet.att.net
Dianna L. Shipman, P.C., Attorney at Law
PMB 134, 1436 W. Gray
Houston, TX 77019-4946
web page: http://home.att.net/~diannashipman
phone: 713-522-1212
----- Original Message -----
From: Miriam L. Mueller <mimimueller@juno.com>
To: <strathspey@tm.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de>
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 1999 4:03 PM
Subject: Re: Objective tests to determine dancing ability - long reply

> As an interested observer and dancer (not a teacher) it would seem to me
> that it would be easier to evaluate a dancer if the teacher were clear on
> exactly what he/she needs for the specific class. If the teacher wants
> the class to be able to do a traditional dance from a talk-through,
> anyone who can't manage this is not prepared for THAT class, regardless
> of dancing expertise or experience. Similarly, if you will be teaching
> complex modern dances, you may need all class members to know lots of
> figures - that is not the place to learn crossover mirror reels, for
> instance. Would you exclude someone who can do everything you require -
> but with poor technique?
> Just my amateur 2 cents to stir the pot.
> Miriam
> San Francisco
>
> --
> "Miriam L. Mueller" <mimimueller@juno.com>
>
>

Previous thread: Objective tests to determine dancing ability
Next thread: Frolic on the Fox 4 - Nov. 6, St. Charles, IL
A Django site.