"Dancing Tid-bits" Issue #52, Thursday, May 24, 2001

Dancing Tid-bits
Dance Training -#1

In the coming weeks there will be a few letters on "Dance Training." This letter, the first in this series is a general introduction.

I take the liberty of borrowing the following from an article by Ruth Gledhill, who is a Correspondent for "The Times" and is a very accomplished Dancer. herself.

For the love of dance: John Wood talks to Ruth Gledhill, who covers Dance Sport for ‘The Times’ ...
"John Wood and Anne Lewis in dance action"
He stayed with his first teachers for many years. "I decided I would not come to London until I had made the semi-final of the British amateur," he says. "People said I was an idiot, but I didn't see the point. People act as if there is some magic information in London, which in a way there is, but it is no good if your mind and body are not ready to receive it. I think couples should wait until they are approaching the top 30 in the world before they go for extra tuition to other teachers. You should stick to your main teacher and make sure you understand what they are telling you first." But he concedes: "That does mean you have to be fortunate enough to have selected a good teacher in the first place."

In one simple paragraph you have it all and that from a man of John Wood's status. I know many enthusiasts dance students talking Blackpool or USBC even before they had their first lesson. I admire their enthusiasm but it makes me leary of their maturity. As a teacher it is really hard as to how to talk this over. I would say the problem is self limiting in a sense and just requires a little passage of time.

It is indeed an important issue to choose the first teacher. "My Daughter or Son deserves the best teacher." "I want to pick the most renowned teacher in the area or 'O, He is the US or World Champion, I want him or her." Absolutely logical and reasonable expectations. But is it necessary or realistic. Read above paragraph again by John Wood and the message is simple.

I believe Dance Teachers are like Sports Coaches. They have to have a clear understanding of the subject and must have spent time in the study and practice of a particular dance they teach. It is absolutely important to drill the beginner students in the Fundamentals and Basic Figures before introducing special dance routines. They should be encouraged to do their own choreography based on a sound knowledge of Precedes and Follows with proper understanding of Alignments. I know this has been said million times before but I got to say it once myself to get it off my chest.

"You will win but will you dance?", That is the question. If your goal is only to win then that's fine but truly speaking if you have not developed random skills to dance with partners of different ability levels, there is lacking something. Sometimes Teachers cannot be blamed for this lack of competency because circumstances may not allow such wide exposure for a particular student to diversify their skills. A couple may look very good together doing a specific routine but you put them with a stranger and they go bizurk, cant even do Bronze Basic, that is not good, is it?

Psychological Dominance can also be a little hindrance in one's training. Dance Teachers are not Gods. Good teachers invite critique and questions. Ask your teacher a question, his eyes will sparkle, they will sparkle more if you ask a stupid question.

Questions and comments to Dancemax@aol.com, thank you.

This article is part of and should be seen in the frame context of Dancesport UK, Tid-bits