General Dance Discussion > Gripe: Self-appointed teachers

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by jennyisdancing, Nov 8, 2007.

  1. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    I had to back up and reevaluate this thread for myself, and thought that it might be noteworthy to other posters;
    • I think we all agree that often the only difference between professional and amateur is opportunity
    • I think we all undserstand that some are natural teachers and others are learned; some are better by approach whether learned or acquired; some are delinquent whether by ignorance or nondissection of natural ability
    • I think we all agree that there is nothing wrong with persons offering advice as long as it is appropriate (solicited, warranted, timely, and most of all correct)
    • ...that JID's complaint was that the guy in her op only fit one of these categories...amateur.
    • ...that the best thing to do, all things being equal, is to humbly offer an "opinion" of how something might work better for "you" in a given moment, and then refer the partner in question to a pro (if for no other reason than it's a "pro's" job to theoretically know how to advise/correct)
    I believe the reasons why there are no BR study groups in the U.S. include;
    • initially, most come to BR as a recreational activity (by definition, not something that requires "study")
    • the U.S. typically doesn't have the patience that other cultures have; they...we are more of an immediate satisfaction culture (thus wanting the result without a lot of study)
    • it is also culturally prevalent in the U.S. to desire to be the best, have the best, own the biggest, etc. (thus, a study group would suggest needing improvement)
    I think this last point is interesting because, as many of you know, after one attends a 'Beginners' Class' in Europe, they don't go to 'Intermediate' as in the U.S. They go to 'Improvers' Class'; a term that simply would not be had, here, because, though we all want to improve, it is just not culturally desirable to be called such.

    Just some late night thoughts.
  2. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Here is another thread by Jennyisdancing from the swing forum on nearly the same topic from a slightly different angle.

    I would suspect there is at least one self appointed teacher of each sex in every group dance class.
  3. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Sorry if I repeated similar issues from my other thread - I guess the point is that I have had this problem a number of times in many different styles of dance (swing, hustle, tango). In most classes and dances there is always someone who appoints himself to try to tutor me, without my having asked for help.

    Is this just a common problem or could it be me? I am relatively a beginner (about six months) so of course there are many things I have yet to learn, and plenty of room for improvement. But my teachers all tell me that I am doing great and that I am a very quick learner. My friends with more dance experience also say the same thing to me. I'm doing the best I can, given my limited resources (no $ for privates, and cannot afford group lessons every week for every kind of dance).

    So I don't know if the self-appointed tutors want to help me because they think I'm the worst dancer in the room, or (flattering myself) because they think I am capable of a lot, or: neither of the above, maybe they just do this with everyone. :confused:
  4. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    One question I'd have would be if these are people you dance with, or want to dance with - or maybe who want to dance with you. If so, it may be that they don't feel that what you have been getting from your teachers, while important, is the full range of things they'd need a person they were dancing with to have.
  5. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Not entirely sure I understand you, Chris - but as to whether these are people I want to dance with, the answer, mostly is no, because of their bossy attitude. I want to dance with people who are pleasant and give off a friendly non-judgmental vibe and I try to do the same. Partner dancing involves being with other people and enjoying the interaction with them.

    As to whether these folks want to dance with me - in class, obviously, we're in a rotation so it just comes up. In a dance, I'm usually being asked. I'm hesitant to do a lot of asking because I think some folks don't want to dance with a beginner. So I think by the time these guys ask me to dance, they may have seen me dance with others and I assume they have some idea of my level of ability. Not sure what range of things these guys want that I don't have. Being a beginner, I obviously don't have advanced technical skills or knowledge of certain steps. But that can only change over time with a lot more lessons and practice, not in a single night on the dancefloor, right?
  6. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    There are a variety of habits that people pick up (or equally don't pick up) that really make the difference between it being worth trying to have a dance with someone, and wanting to excuse yourself at the first opportunity.

    Really mastering most of these things can be a major time consuming project of course - but getting an initial awareness of the idea as something to work on is not necessarily complicated or time consuming at all. Unfortunately, studio teaching often neglects these things - they often fall into the category of skills that are implied as part of the package of what dancing is, but don't appear as specific items on any sort of "teacher checklist" of things to cover. In most cases they develop incidentally with other skills, but when they don't there's little ability to address the specific problems in a specific, enabling way, because they are often not known to the teachers as specific items to watch for.
  7. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Chris, maybe you could give specific examples of what skills you mean?
    I will say generally, that when I receive unwanted teaching it falls into one of these categories:

    1. Trying to teach me their favorite complicated step or pattern, and not being satisfied with the dance until I execute that particular step/pattern correctly;
    2. Correcting or criticizing my technique in a way that confuses what my teachers have said, rather than further illuminating.

    Additionally, because of their critical, unpleasant manner, I tense up and dance more poorly than I normally would, so that compounds the problem. Again, I am not talking about someone who simply offers a friendly suggestion.
  8. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Details of movement from foot to foot, also usage of the feet. Even a physically tiny follower doing this in an odd way can be frankly terrifying to a much larger leader in some dances.

    I would assume we can agree that those are examples of people who just don't get it.

    The problems is that teachers don't necessarily get it right - or they may tell you to do something thats only appropriate in some cases, as if it were universally applicable, or they may omit very key things. All can cause very real, very inhibiting practical problems in trying to dance together. But it may be that the answer is simply not to try to dance with that person.
  9. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member one's complained about my footwork, so that may not be it. And I won't embellish or improvise unless I'm comfortable with the basic and feel the leader will be okay with my doing so.

    Absolutely true - but a beginner dancer probably won't be able to discern their teachers' limitations and therefore will just get confused if a dance partner gives them conflicting information. Only after several months, I can now start to see the gaps in my teaching (and I do think even the best teachers omit things).

    But getting back to my original question, I was wondering if my dilemma is generally a common one?
  10. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    Yes. And it doesn't have anything to do with you, except for your being a newer dancer. IME, people who do this do it to everyone. At one social I go to, it's called "The X Experience," X being the name of the guy who "teaches" virtually every partner he has.
  11. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Right you are, WG. I am amazed that so many posters are making such a profound experience out of this. It is not new to dance in general and BR in particular. New to JID perhaps, as she is a new dancer. It has been said before....

    dancing, especially partnership dancing, is a very intimate activity; therefore, persons take it very personally. If one notices, it is never the very good/accomplished dancers who fall into the X factor. It is always the ones with some sort of inner issue (not necessarily a bad one), who have come to dance for all sorts of reasons, and it makes them feel more successul, more accomplished, more self-gratified, etc. to put themselves in the role/s of master - nurturer - teacher - look what I know - look what I can do, it boosts my ego/self esteem, blah, blah, blah. Also, one should notice that these persons never do it to accomplished dancers...only those like JID.

    Further, we understand that everyone believes that what they are doing is what they were taught. No one believes that they are doing it incorrectly. So, if something feels incorrect, it must be the other's fault. The real fault is in these persons insisting on making the other person alter what 'they' believe to be correct re what they have been taught. This leads into JID's second point of these persons setting up teaching sessions under the guise of practicas.
  12. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    If it's any consolation, jenny, the "teachers" prefer inexperienced dancers. As you progress, you'll run into this less and less. X never asks me to dance anymore! :bouncy:
  13. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Probably half of what's said in these encounters is totally mistaken and should be ignored or escaped. Another fair chunk is based on real ideas, and possibly important things that are missing, but it too confused/confusing to be of any use. But some of the remainder of what is heard from peers will be important, overlooked, enabling information.

    There's a whole continum of possibilities of which 'making' is only one choice:

    answering, offering, suggesting, requiring, making

    If someone is making someone else do something, that's a problem (unless it's a teacher hired to push you).

    If someone is requiring - it depends on what and why, but it it's the sort of thing that condenses to "if you want to dance with me again you have to stop doing this thing that alarms me" then it's not necessarily unreasonable at all, at least if well presented and the option of not dancing together is real.

    Suggesting, Offering - depends on the situation, and the difference between one time and persistent.

    Answering - well, you ask a question you take your chances ;-)
  14. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    No worries on repeating yourself. I just noticed the similarities.

    Actually, it was almost the same kind of experience 6-8 months after I started dancing that got me searching around for more information and answers. That was how I found Dance Forums.

    Trust yourself. The trick for me was taking the last sentence in your quote and adjusting my attitude so the word "problem" just went away. Then, all I have to do is weight the validity of the recommendations coming my way. My brain now has a fun little space for odd unsolicited teaching tips people give me. Probably 95% of them are just junk, but the other 5% are great.

    The best tips are from the really really good dancers that will just nicely mention something to me. Their knowledge of body motion and timing is enough farther along that sometimes the tip doesn't make sense. Then a whole year later, I will be leading something and suddenly the tip they had given me becomes perfectly clear. It is awesome when that happens.
  15. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Despite Chris' exegesis.....

    I believe that we all know that JID was not referring to those mentioned in your post....

    but, rather those also mentioned in your post....

    We all appreciate the former, and, you are right, it is awesome when that happens; even to those of us so called masters.
  16. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Thanks, waltzgirl. That's the info I was looking for. It was hard for me to know this because there appear to be very few newbies at the dances in my area, so I felt out of place. Most of the people have been dancing for years and years and they all know each other. Or if they are newer, they spend a lot of time and money on lessons before they venture out socially, so more or less they can walk into a venue already being able to dance at a high level. There is not a lot of patience shown to female beginners. Exceptions are only made if she is a cute young college girl or looks like a model.
  17. biggestbox

    biggestbox Member

    I'd say that I'm pretty advanced, but i still take class (ballet, latin) 4 times a week on top of my 2 private lessons. In a social dance class, I usually keep my mouth shut, unless she is really really struggling. I learned this the hard way, one of my coaches was a Blackpool champion after working with her for a while I was so excited to share what I had learned with everyone I met. Not only did people not understand, I got some very negative responses for try to help them. So even the information given to me by a world champion is counter productive if my partner isn't seeking the answer in the first place. If I see something which I consider to be "dangerous." I will mention is right away (eg. improper alignment of the knee that can cause major damage later on). I will always correct these kinds of problems no matter what.

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