|Previous thread:||objective tests to determine dancing ability|
|Next thread:||jig or reel|
>>> Alan Paterson <email@example.com> 21/10/99 01:15 pm >>>
If I might give just a touch more background on my situation (which started this
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.
>>> <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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
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.
>>> <email@example.com> 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.
>>>> Marjorie McLaughlin <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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
>> "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!)
> 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.
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?
Cheers, Ron :)
< 0 Ron Mackey,(Purveyor of Pat's Party Pieces)
/#\ London. UK.
|Previous thread:||objective tests to determine dancing ability|
|Next thread:||jig or reel|