Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by pygmalion, Aug 6, 2004.
That too. But first you have to get me past the caffeine and alcohol. *grin*
I have mentored many pros ( and amats ) but all in the States .Would be more than happy to oblige, but it would be LONG distance !!.
One thing I have learned over the yrs, was to hopefully learn from my mistakes , and not my successes ( the few I have had ) .
Not quite so.. I fulfilled many and most of my dance ambitions and small achievements, long before I became an owner . And when I did "open " my doors, I made sure that my staff were regularly trained with the best available teachers and coaches .
One has to wear many hats when running a business so diversified as Dance.
Oh! :-D I wasn't asking for myself personally. Just noting that I think you'd be a wonderful resource for people in the business.
Sorry, I didn't quite express what I meant correctly. I agree with you, I too have a long-term teacher/student relationship with my teacher and am flexible to re-organising/planning etc. What goes around, comes around. What I meant was with regard to the learning needs of a beginner teacher.
I don't disagree with every beginner not getting the best teacher and it is hard to find some-one that suits you but I don't agree with paying a lot of money (I looked into a franchise once and the cost was huge!) for lessons with a beginner dancer who is teaching. I think that teachers should be open about their qualifications - it applies in all industry not just dance.
I too have a long-term relationship with my teacher and am flexible as well, but still - he knows much more about dancing than I do.
The issue with the situation with "no experience needed, will train" is that someone might be learning something in the morning and then going out there and teaching it to his students in the evening, and that's not something I'm interested in accommodating.
That's why one looks for certs on the walls and / or bios.
I should add that my primary teachers also own the studio where I've done most of my learning. I also take in stride interruptions in lessons to handle studio business -- from both sides we make sure it all comes out in the wash.
You're right. That might be so.
I haven't seen that, though. I've seen new teachers go through weeks of classes, fairly grueling exams, written and practical (with both lead and follow required) They were also required to participate in group classes, student teach classes and shadow experienced teachers in private lessons, all before being let loose on students. And, IIRC, experienced teachers shadowed them in their first lessons. No pressure. :lol:
And still, you're right. Even after all that, they are newbies. No doubt about that. I've just never heard of any studio creating the scenario you describe, which doesn't mean it hasn't happened. I just haven't seen anything like it.
Someone else mentioned that it happens earlier in the thread. And some studios just might not have that many experienced teachers to keep an eye on newbies, or have them shadow someone else with more experience (I've only seen that being done in a gym).
Like I posted, when a studio I had a package with attempted to land me with someone just a couple of months out of his 6 week training program, it was more than I was going to put up with.
I am going to have to chime in on the side that maintains that no, a six week wonder with no prior dancing and/or teaching experience is NOT "good enough" for the beginner with two left feet because she/he knows slightly more than the student does. Having been one of those two left feet people, I can tell you that if I hadn't lucked out and got one of the more experienced (not talking the top pro at the studio here, just a teacher with enough years of teaching experience, as well as having danced something or another since she was a kid) I would probably have gone thru my introductory package and wouldn't have made it to this forum, and more than 6 years of progressive ballroom dancing. If anything, a newbie needs someone who can switch gears and adjust to their students' learning styles--I have found that the newbie instructors, at least at the chain studio I am familiar with, are taught ONE way to teach--and until they develop their own teaching style and ability to think on their feet (no pun intended) they are pretty much useless when it comes to teaching me and people like me (people with no dance experience/background at all)
Yes, I agree that everyone has to start somewhere, and it is possible to make someone a dance teacher coming from a non-dance background; however, ask yourselves if you would want a doctor who had zero interest in biology when growing up, or a mechanic who never played with Legos or tinkered with her own car? Someone with dance background, be it ballet, social dancing, salsa, swing, heck, square dancing, is preferable to a non-dancer who is looking into dance teaching as "just a job" as far as I am concerned.
At one of the studios I am going to right now, there is a perfect example for comparison: 4 trainees, two of them ex-students who were almost full bronze before they decided to try their hands at teaching and 2 off-the street non-dancer dance teacher trainees. Guess who is able to teach better?
TangoRocks, I agree. I just started taking group ballroom dance classes about 4 months ago. I have never taken any private lessons. I go to an independent studio. The average age of the students seems to be students in their late 20's, 30's, and 40's. I am married, recently retired and in my late 60's. The way I am able to keep up with the group instructor's and students is because I have purchased instructional videos from Dance Vision and I practice the steps using the videos. My wife has absolutely no interest in ballroom dance or any kind of dance and does not go to the lessons. I have noticed that the best dance students who have had no ballroom dance experience are those who have a background in ballet. It is almost as if they sense the correct way to do the technique and step patterns. Obviously, my preference is to dance at the group dances with those. I am now considering taking some private lessons. I am evaluating the group class teachers background and experience in order to determine which one, I might gain the most benefit from. All the teachers at this studio are experienced teacher-all appear to be competitive dancers. I am only interested in becoming a good social dancer. I am inclined to select one who grew up or is experienced in ballet with a considerable background in ballroom dance. Obviously, I want one who seems to be interested in teaching me-and is not simply after the money and can't wait for the session to end.
This is an easy assumption to make, but quite worrisome going forward. A ballet background does not prompt the proper ballroom technique - if anything, it tends mean taking a longer-than-normal amount of time to accept key aspects of ballroom technique which are in strong opposition to ballet principles.
If the ex-ballet people seem to be doing best, it is likely that this training program is not putting enough emphasis on fundamentals of ballroom technique. Those students who have other habits to fall back on do so - they end up dancing ballroom material with ballet habits rather than ballroom ones. In the short term, having any idea of how to approach dancing seems an advantage over those who don't know what to do - but in the long term, having become used to the wrong way of doing things will take longer to fix.
Your last point is basically what I've noticed... it's not so much the ballet background as it is the general dance background. The newcomeres I've seen getting the idea the quickest almost always seem to have some combination of tap, ballet, jazz, etc., not just one discipline. I suppose that might lend itself to not so much the ability to dance, but the ability to feel what one's body is doing from a 3rd-person perspective and make corrections more quickly as they come in.
The problem tends to be that the awareness comes hand in hand with a habit of approaching dance from the "wrong" direction. In ballroom (and especially in the sense of ballroom as distinct from latin), just about every aspect of technique ultimately derives from the mechanics of partnering. The most informative guide is not the visual, but instead what the impact on the other partner is going to be. Most performance-dance people are not used to thinking in that direction.
To some extent, the key techniques that enable partnering can be seen in the mirror, but only if there's an accurate reference to copy and if those areas are pointed out verbally. Unfortunately that is not always the case - so you have not only the problem of students inventing or borrowing non-ballroom technique, you also have the problem of them copying the teacher's deficiencies. It's that last part where "good enough for beginners" teachers do a serious disservice.
While far from absolute, a key test of a partner dancer's expertise is their ability to dance the material they are allegedly studying, in a lead-and-follow manner with a skilled partner who is not a person they have rehearsed it with. Where teachers 'learn' without that, they tend not to learn many of the key skills - they can teach 'the material' but not with enough accuracy that their students can use it. That tends to be a major difference between those who study dancing in order to teach it (and dance primarily with their beginner students plus a little bit with their teachers) vs. those who study dancing for themselves (and dance primarily with peers, hopefully beyond just their partner).
To name a simple example: can the prospective teacher be lead to do, or not to do, a heel turn in a situation where either is a possibility? Can they smoothly lead a basically skilled dancer to do, or not do, it? For a surprising number of alleged teachers, that's just not the case - they have learned ballroom choreography, but not ballroom dancing.
I live in a town where we have an arts-oriented college (in addition to state university and a community college), so when we had a studio which used this practice of taking trainees, the best ones they had were from that college. One that's still around (most of them moved away by now) has gone on to become an excellent rhythm dancer (she and her partner won Rising Star Rhythm a few years ago - ftr, pro american style events get really large here in midwest, iirc, they had a quarterfinal when they did so). But she didn't have any ballroom background - instead she has a B.A. in ballet and modern.
Ballet and other classically trained dancers do well in ballroom because; they know how to control their bodies, their bodies usually are in better shape to respond to the demands of dancing, and they have experience and knowledge of lines and shapes.
As a dancer that has some background in modern and ballet, I have found the problem not to be overcoming habits from my prior training, but figuring out exactly what is demanded in the body in latin and the other ballroom dances. The internal energy flow, and particular muscular uses of the isolated areas of the body must be communicated effectively and experienced to be repeated consistently. And that is no easy feat with some of the more "nebulous" concepts.
Habits like turning out the feet and the like I have not had a "problem" modifying (but I have not danced ballet professionally - did more lyrical modern performance), it's simply a matter of classifying what goes with each type of dance in your brain and getting it in to body memory, which takes a bit of time and focus.
Just my experience as one of those with some ballet background.
Yes, but they tend not to be in the habit of controlling their bodies in the ways required for ballroom. A lot of the success or failure occurs during times in an action which they may not be inclined to think of as important. For example, the communication in ballroom requires that the departure from the standing foot and arrival on the moving foot be softly continuous; ballet people tend not to be willing to depart and arrive softly enough to permit that. Dancing that way, they can execute the choreography, but not communicate it. If such a person is a teacher who does not discover the problem for themselves by their inability to dance comfortably and communicate with other skilled dancers, they will just go around ignorantly blaming the problem on their students.
Which tend to be a major distraction from fundamental partnering technique. There's a reason the line figures are not considered basic. And when it is time to learn them, lines in closed hold grow out of a standing groin that is turned in, not out. Any similarity in the extremities is relatively useless, because the extremities are ultimately a projection of proper ballroom core technique, not a goal by themselves.
This is a good realization. However those concepts really are not nebulous - there are very specific answers which make a huge difference in capability. But the ballroom establishment is not very good about communicating that information from the small number of teachers who know it, to the majority who engage in hand-waving explanations or teach by feel. Many converts from other dance styles thinkingly or not interpret the lack of insistence on specific details of ballroom actions as an opening to substitute what they already know about "dancing".
Some do have a problem with that, even those whose background is purely ballroom 10-dance. But, this is a topic where there's a fairly wide awareness of what you are supposed to be doing. In many key other areas, the specific knowledge about what separates ballroom technique from ballet technique, or even latin technique, is not usually sufficiently articulated in words for those prone to rely on a prior habit to realize that there is a difference between what they are doing and what the capable dancers are doing.
If you take an ex-ballet dancer and give them a ballroom teacher who is every bit as detail-demanding as their former ballet teachers were with regard to core technique (NOT alignment and footwork, but the body mechanics that create it), you might get something. If instead, they get your typical trainer of social dance instructors... what you get is someone who lets their background fill the vacuum of information, and thus executes ballroom choreography with the borrowed technique of their previous style. And that makes dancing with another person a lot harder than it should be.
My current teacher (CT) is the teacher of the teacher of my first teacher (FT). I stayed in the same "family tree", so I've found that the information was consistent. My experience with CT has continued to confirm the accuracy of what FT taught me. FT obviously did not have anywhere near the same amount of dancing experience or teaching experience as CT, so FT was not as efficient in diagnosing and fixing problems. Sometimes, FT would need to get back to me later on some of my questions. Overall, I think it was a pretty good deal for about 75% of CT's price, FT built a good foundation for me that required no correction, only further development, on the part of CT.
FT was actually a staff instructor who'd been through a studio training program. FT had no prior ballroom experience, but did have some other partner dance experience. Fortunately, FT had had a good number of years dancing and teaching ballroom by the time I started. Though sometimes, I've wondered how FT's very first students turned out. I suppose I owe them in some part for the training I received...
Separate names with a comma.