General Dance Discussion > "Adult Beginner"

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by 80srockher, Apr 24, 2015.

  1. 80srockher

    80srockher New Member

    Hello, I'm happy to have found a place where adult dancers can discuss their experiences. Briefly: I've taken lessons in various disciplines on and off since I was a teenager. Now I'm in my early 30's. One of my resolutions is to develop my dance skills, which are basic but somewhat solid. Since moving to a new city 6 months ago, I've been taking intro sessions and beginner classes at a very popular studio with a varied schedule; great for adults who work during the day. Admittedly, I found the adult beginner classes to be too basic for me, but I was wary of advancing because higher level classes aren't offered as sessions. I suppose the logic is you should already have the basics down pat, which I thought I did, until I started attending an advanced beginners jazz class 2 weeks ago.

    Basically, all of my apprehensions have been realized in this course. I know my positions, my turns, and my leaps, but not in succession, it would seem. Choreography that looks easy enough when the instructor does it is not at all easy when I try it. Perhaps most frustrating of all is the presence of students in who obviously don't need to be in a beginner level class. They get all of the moves and can perform them easily. Doubtlessly, this is coming from a place of frustration, but WHY ARE THEY THERE? I'm the true beginner, I'm the one who needs to learn. GO TO AN INTERMEDIATE OR ADVANCED CLASS WHERE YOU BELONG.

    Rant over. I guess I'm wondering if I should go back to basic beginners and try this course again in a few weeks. Then again, I've only attended two classes so... maybe I'll improve? However, I really do enjoy my dance aerobics & hip hop classes, so much so that I worry less about technique than I do about having fun. HOWEVER, that's why I decided to enroll in other courses emphasizing technique, because I really would like to learn how to dance. Thoughts, anyone?
  2. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    Welcome. We are mostly a group of partner dancers, but some of us have experience in other classes/styles as well :)

    Dance can be a maddenning, frustrating, enlightening, rewarding experience. And there is always more to learn. Just try to remember that is a process, and part of the magic of learning to dance is the journey that you take along the way. Leaping class levels can be tough, and learning choreography takes a while to master. I used to struggle to remember simple sequences of 4 or so moves, and now I can get about a 45-second block down at a time - you too will get better with practice, and as you learn how you learn. Try as much as you remember, and try difference ways of remembering - filming (with permission), writing it down, nicknaming things, breaking it into chunks... there are a zillion different ways. Your teacher may be able to give you some tips - just respectfully ask if they can give you a couple of minutes for a question after class - and can probably guide you to the best class and level for you if you are really feeling overwhelmed.

    Finally, I may be one of "those" (that you want to move up to a higher level class )- but allow me to explain, as you may be encountering some of these as well:
    I take a weekly beginner ballet class. I've never really done ballet before, excepting a few months as a child... but it is immediately clear that I am a dancer from the way I stand, my understanding of my body and how to produce movements, etc. The instructor called me on it within 5 minutes of the first class :) I look like I am way too advanced for the class in comparison to most (all) of the others, but I've never done most of the movements before... I just pick them up well, but still need the explanation and slow demo. I stay in the class because in my area, the adult options for ballet are beginner or open - I did attempt an open class once, but it was way too advanced for me (think pre-professional, ladies on pointe, no explanations, long centre combinations). Scary! I, on the other hand, still need to really concentrate to produce correct technique in the simplest of combinations. Maybe in a year or two I can move up, but for right now, it's the beginner class!
  3. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I hear you...the older you get, the harder it is to get your body to obey! My advice to you is to not watch other people in the class or worry about what they're doing or why they're there. focus on you, what you can do and celebrate every accomplishment, no matter how minor or fleeting. At least you're doing it, and that's more than a lot of people do.
  4. dncergrl

    dncergrl Active Member

    Hi, I am one of those people who have decades of experience but sometimes go to beginner classes. People like me often do that because we have injuries that may not be apparent to you and we are rehabbing our bodies or just trying not to make our injuries worse. We just want to dance. The other thing is that each teacher has their particular "style" and it can suit some injuries or not. Two classes is not really enough for you to get familiar with a teacher's style. If you keep going back to the same class, sequences of steps will start to be repeated and you will gradually get more familiar.
    ocean-daughter likes this.
  5. MyssMyst

    MyssMyst Member

    From when I did aerial and felt the same way... Sometimes, people take those classes to condition, or continue to perfect the basics. They could be coming back from surgery/an injury/having a baby... Or that just might be all they can afford or have time for. Some people... It may have been a while, and they just want to review.
    MaggieMoves and ocean-daughter like this.
  6. 80srockher

    80srockher New Member

    Thanks, everyone, for your comments! Your explanations for advanced students in beginner courses are all very sound. Of course, no one has to justify his or her reason for taking a beginners course. I just wish I didn't end up feeling as if *I* am in the way. Also, for whatever reason this instructor doesn't do drills, which I thought were staples in beginning levels. Since I'm used to warm-up --> drill --> dance, then maybe I'm not ready to advance and/or I should try a different instructor. Fortunately, this is a large studio with multiple locations. Though the class I've been attending is scheduled at a convenient time for me, there are others I can take with different instructors, if I'm willing to get up earlier enough. Perhaps I'll give one of those a go & see how that works out.
    ocean-daughter likes this.
  7. ollielaven

    ollielaven New Member

    Never be afraid to ask for help! It's quite tricky at first, but before you know it, you'll be a full-fledged dancer in no time, I'm telling you that!
  8. MaggieMoves

    MaggieMoves Well-Known Member

    Like others said here, the reason why you see many advanced people in a beginners class is for the sole reason that they cover the basics. I've been ballroom dancing now for 13 years, and still find the need to go over the basics now and again. It helps keep you sharp for competition.

    I just don't like it when you see people with 1-2 years of experience that show off in beginner's classes. It just isn't a cool thing to do.
  9. 80srockher

    80srockher New Member

    Hi, and thank you all for continuing to contribute to this thread! A brief update: I have continued with the advanced-beginning level classes, even attending an alternate class on Sunday mornings to help with the muscle memory. It also helps to have another option in case I have to skip an evening class during the week. I can tell I'm incrementally improving, which is encouraging. I had an epiphany not too long ago regarding choreography and my ability to remember the steps. It's the transitioning moves I have the most difficult with. Once I began to focus on them rather than trying to remember the bigger movements, things began to come together. I even saw it in my instructor's face a few nights ago; we had a simultaneous "ah-ha, she's got it!" moment, which was very satisfying. In short, I'm glad I'm sticking with it, and I've begun taking a barre body class to assist with balance and to help strengthen my very high, very weak arches. And yes, some advanced-level students still make an appearance, but I don't let them bother me anymore. I'm concentrating on nailing that perfect single passe-turn, instead. Turns are the worst. In any case, thanks! If I ever do nail that turn, then I'll let you all know.
  10. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Awesome :D

    With regards to choreo, my advice is, as always: write it out. Writing out your choreo step by step will help you define what exactly you're doing, remember it, and figure out where your memory is fuzzy.
  11. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    Yes, even if you don't remember the name of a step, write down something you can remember like, "lady goes under the arm anticlockwise" or "L-R-L toward the corner".
  12. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    I think working on smaller combination is a good approach. This is something you can do outside of class too. I think what you will find is some moves will prepare you to do others and visa versa. Based on what I am hearing, I think it is likely you are going to learn a lot in the months ahead, and I am think it will be worthwhile for you. Thank you for being part of our forum and sharing your experiences! :)
  13. leee

    leee Well-Known Member

    Are you from Blighty or sommat? ;)
  14. JoeB

    JoeB Active Member

    It should be just like a martial arts class, though; the brown/black belts refresh their basics by helping the white belts, not by trying to confuse them with things beyond the level of the class.
  15. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    I must respectfully disagree - I don't want to be helped by a fellow student who happens to be categorized as more advanced than I am, even if they truly are not... I would prefer to direct any questions I have to the (theoretically) trained instructor.

    And I'm speaking as a former martial arts student who made it to the black belt level, and has been on both sides of the "brown/black belts helping white belts" dynamic.
  16. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    To clarify my post above... my reason for this opinion is that, whereas in martial arts there is a very clear hierarchy system - ranking is very important and students know (or should know) their place in the hierarchy relative to other students - after all, it is openly displayed as part of the required uniform - ballroom dance is a more egalitarian enterprise where we generally expect to treat each other as equals, even if we are actually at different levels. Lots of threads elsewhere in the forum about the appropriateness (or lack thereof) of telling fellow students how to dance, or offering unsolicited advice/pointers. The cultures of these two activities are very different, as are the costs (one year of ballroom is 3-4x what it cost me to do martial arts for the entire ~5 years I practiced).

    Having said that, based on snippets I have read elsewhere in this forum, the "advanced students helping beginner students" seems to be a model that is employed at the collegiate level. However, I think that is a tougher sell out in the non-collegiate world, where you have folks either paying out the wazoo for ballroom (so group is part of the package), or dropping $10 for an a la carte group class, then there is an expectation that you are paying to learn from an instructor/pro, not just someone else who happens to be in the same group class that day. In addition to paying money to then have to be the teacher... that's a bit of a tough sell.

    Btw, that actually was one of the things I had mixed feelings about when I practiced martial arts. It worked out well for me when I was a lower ranked belt, since the brown/black belts who worked with me were generally excellent and competent. However, when the shoe was on the other foot, I wondered (a) why I was paying to teach other people - including kids whose parents apparently assumed I would be able to instill the discipline in their children that they could not - instead of being able to practice/learn at my level, and (b) how in the world this was ok, since I really did not have any "teacher" training - on days where I was the most advanced student, I actually taught the class (which seems ludicrous looking back - sorry but in no way should anyone have been paying for that).

    Anyways, didn't mean for this to be so long, but tbh, that's not a teaching dynamic I wish to see implemented in ballroom. Lo siento, but there are "silver" and "gold" dancers who have no business trying to teach me stuff.
    raindance likes this.
  17. JoeB

    JoeB Active Member

    The issue, to me, is just like trying to learn a new technique with a brand new uke; if neither one of us knows what the heck we're supposed to be doing, sensei's job is more than twice as hard, since we're likely to reinforce each other's incorrect movements. In a small class, it can work, but when you've got one or two instructors for a large class, you're going to learn some things wrong before they get to you and correct it, then you've got to unlearn the wrong part. Much easier to pair off with someone who has done it a few times until you have the basic concept down.

    I don't necessarily want the experienced student teaching me her own style during the class; just a follow who knows what we're trying to do and will correctly interpret my lead even if it's a bit shaky the first couple of times.
  18. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    In 99% of the groups I've been in, partners rotate every few iterations of the step. Unless the group is gigantic (have been in a couple of those too), you will practice the step with every other lead or follow (depending on your role) in the group. Often, if you're not getting it with one person, you may get it with someone else. That usually takes care of things and people are noticeably better when they get back to their original partner. In the event that someone is struggling, the instructor may offer some individualized attention, w/o derailing the group.

    This is what private lessons are for. :)
  19. JoeB

    JoeB Active Member

    I'm looking at it from more of an aikido perspective, where we don't generally use a whole rainbow of belts; all it really indicates is whether you're a danger to yourself and/or others at a particular speed or level. I've seen individual dojos of other arts eliminating several colors lately for the same reason. Maybe dancers should have a few belt levels so we know when to wear the steel-toed shoes and shin guards :)

    For the most part, all of the more experienced students I've dealt with make it clear that "this is just the way I do you want to try that and see if it works better for you?" I've found enough useful variations in their methods that I'll listen to nearly anything once.

    Maybe if dance instructors had more fear of their students surpassing them, that would correct itself. :)

    Often the best way to solidify something you've learned is to teach it with an open mind. That said, we really don't have the higher ranks teaching the class in general; only one-on-one practice and pointers. I have a friend who trained in another art where the higher level brown belts and above could apply their time spent teaching toward their dues, making it effectively free if they taught about two thirds of their total mat time.

    The case I referred to was both large and uneven, (way more men than women) so rotations were getting mixed up and missed a lot due to figuring out who was rotating in, out or just over. The biggest help was that when I led, she did exactly what I thought she was supposed to do, and did it well, which put back the confidence right away, and had me back to working on my own footwork rather than wondering why I seemed like I was going to need a whiteboard communicate a fairly simple concept.

    At the level I was wanting to learn that style (i.e. "I want to ask that cute redhead to dance but I've never tried this stuff and nothing I know will work with it.") private lessons would have been a lot more than I was willing to pay. For the record, that's my general learning state, as there are a lot of cute redheads near dance floors, but very few competitions that I take much interest in.
  20. JoeB

    JoeB Active Member

    OK, that's a feeling you should never have in a beginner class for anything unless they clearly stated some prerequisites. I'd be looking for a new instructor with a real beginning level class.

Share This Page