Archive for the ‘dancing’ Tag
It was Day 4 for both the 8:30 and 12:50 classes. The 8:30 is a school in a part of Richmond with a lot of social housing nearby. The school’s student population can change from week to week as families move into and out of the neighbourhood. In the 3 weeks prior, I have seen 1 student leave and a new 1 or 2 join the dance class. Add to this that roughly a dozen of the ’80+’ kids in the class had already received Swing Dance lessons while another 15 or 20 hadn’t a clue what partnered dancing was, this was and is a very challenging mix.
The 12:50 and the 10:45 classes (NB: it was Day 3 for the latter group) presented the challenge of mixing a few very immature kids (younger Gr 5s, I think) with a few others who are beginning to exhibit the physical and cognitive signs (self-awareness, attention span) of puberty (older Gr 6s). The rest fell somewhere along this spectrum of mental and physical maturation. Classes were about 60 in size.
I had brought along a dance assistant this day. ‘Diane’ enabled me not only to teach the patterns, leads and follows, but also to demonstrate them in action. Diane is a competitive dancer currently entering the Championship level of DanceSport. Combine her performance aptitude with mine and we can put on a pretty intoxicating ‘run-through’ of any Ballroom Dance. I use the demo as a tool both to illustrate what I’m teaching and to elevate the steps to a performance level. The effect on the learners, regardless of age, is always the same. Their eyes light up and, I surmise, their imaginations engage.
The difference in the level of learning (and attention) from pre-demo to post-demo is immense. On days when I have a competitively trained assistant alongside, I try to demo as much as possible. On other days, I focus my energies on breaking down and walking through movements, over and over.
On days when I’ve got an assistant, I’ll use ‘dry’ and teaching-style demos to make clear the patterns, leads and follows I’m hammering home. Then, once or twice in the class, I’ll segué that somewhat pedestrian sequence into a more lively, animated style by adding in performance level qualities such as advanced dance technique, musicality, and characterization – the steps I keep fairly ‘beginner’ to let students relate what they’re learning now with how it can look and feel. My objective: To leave a lasting impression that dancing may start off slow to learn but the results are both attainable and attractive.
P.S. I’m fine-tuning the lesson plans I had prepared for this term. If you’d like to glimpse them, send me your name, where and what you teach, and how you found out about my services. Reach me at danzkool [at] sportdanz.com (replace the ‘[at]’ with ‘@’ and ignore the spaces).