Dance Articles > How Can I Get More Out Of My Group Classes?

Discussion in 'Dance Articles' started by SDsalsaguy, Aug 16, 2003.

  1. Chris Eaton

    Chris Eaton Member

    Amazing... I can see how much better it was to ask these questions on the Forum now, because I am getting responses from both sides of the fence. I would like to think that I was very considerate of other peoples feelings/circumstances, but it still good to have people on the forum chip in with things that I just might not have even considered.

    I have my teachers email address. We have already swapped a few emails, mainly along the line of me asking to join, then sending her an email telling her how much I enjoyed the first lesson. I think I shall leave it until I have had the next lesson and find out which way it is heading. I am sure that the teachers have had MANY MANY years of dealing with beginners and that I am in very good hands. As one of the other members pointed out, patience with oneself is also important if you are to make progress. Also, I am having loads of FUN, and that is probably much more important at such an early stage than any other consideration.
  2. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    It would never have occurred to me to share that; to me, asking for someone's time is common courtesy. But it's excellent advice, nonetheless.

    @Chris. Yes. I would leave off with the emails as well for now. If the group classes are as large as 30 or more people each, consider the impact if all of them emailed on a frequent basis. That's a lot of email.

    My suggestion: Check out the lay of the land when you go to class next week, so you can get a feel for how things run in your studio. Then, if you can find a quiet moment, ask your questions.

    I love talking to you, btw. Your enthusiasm is contagious. :)
  3. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    ...your teachers may be incredibly well qualified, with years of experience, and you may have researched that...but, if you haven't, don't presume that is the case...many a sorry soul did make that assumption only to be disillusioned later...just another thing to be mindful of...when we walk into any business, we tend to assume that the professional is an expert...whether it be a doctor, a counselor, a dance teacher, a fitness trainer, isn't automatically the case...

    as to emails..I think a few in your first week will be seen as a sign of enthusiasm, a few (or more)every week could begin to be seen as a yellow light...not to prematurely share with you every possible jaded scenario or anything...just to give you a head's up about occasional trends...bottom line is that none of this is meant to make you paranoid or give you analysis paralysis about how to proceed in every scenario...just to give you some larger are an adult who I am certain is able to use his own perceptive reasoning
  4. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    sad but true...there are many folks who are oblivious to the fact that I am clearly in the middle of something else that isn't so trivial that I should immediately stop to bond with them...mind you, I like to listen to folks and hear what is going on in their lives, when it is feasible

    well, and not to be cynical as I alluded to previously, but if the teacher is (say) a lovely young lady and gets a lot of that for a variety of reasons, well, she may also have a heightened concern....not to scare the daylights out of OP or anything, but that is COMMON
  5. Chris Eaton

    Chris Eaton Member

    Hi Guys,

    Just to put some of your minds at rest, and to "set the scene", neither of my teachers are "young", although i am sure that they are "young at heart"!

    This thread has certainly ventured into much deeper and darker areas than I had expected.

    I invested some time on some "self help" by getting a book from the Public Library. It is an old book, but so am I. As the Waltz and Rumba are a lot older than the book, or I,...I don't think I need to worry too much. The steps seem to be the ones I was being taught, so that is a good sign.

    I also ordered a new pair of patent ballroom dance shoes, bought some new trousers, (a bit tight 'round the arse, but I think I am still allowed a little vanity at 50), and a new white "dress" shirt.

    I may not remember all the steps, come Thursday night, but I am hoping that they will be pleased to see that I am making the effort to "Look the Part".

    I also bought some new cologne and a new electric toothbrush!! If some poor woman is prepared to dance in "Close Hold" with me for an hour, then I think that the least i can do is make the effort to create as enjoyable an experience as possible for them too. Don't you think?

    I am so looking forward to Thursday. It feels like preparing for a Date ( don't start worrying... I am not a mad stalker!). What I mean is, there is a heightened level of anticipation to the thought of dancing again, this time, without the concerns of "what will it be like", "will I enjoy it", that I had last week.

  6. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    enjoy Chris
  7. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Hi Chris. I think you can tell, we all get very excited about an excited new dancer :p

    If you're interested in taking more than the one class per week, or taking privates, you might want to look for other studios, community classes, clubs, etc. in your area. You may be able to pick up a second set of group classes somewhere else. Also look into local social dances, where you can practice what you've learned - and socials often include a lesson.

    Ask at your studio if you can use the floor to practice by yourself (or with a partner). Studios usually charge a floor fee ($10), but some studios will wave that if you've taken a lesson that day/week. Some don't allow it, and you have to find your own space - but for a newcomer, small spaces (even hallways) are fine.

    As for practicing the "wrong" things... well, I think we've all done that :) Taking notes is IMO the best idea. You want to note things like step timing, what foot goes where, etc. I am very detailed when I do this... for an international rumba basic, I might write something like:

    International Rumba: Basic Step
    Timing: [1] 2 3 4 [1] 2 3 4
    [1]: No foot movement
    2 : Left foot (step forward)
    3 : Right foot (replace weight)
    4 : Left foot (step side/left)
    [1]: No foot movement
    2 : Right foot (step back)
    3 : Left foot (replace weight)
    4 : Right foot (step side/right)

    - Keep toe on the ground when stepping forward.

    I'm sure there are simpler ways to write everything out, though... find what works for you :)

    As for particular dances/steps/IDTA certification... don't worry about it. If you're just looking to dance socially, you can do all sorts of steps. (And if you're competing, you would worry about the syllabi TC mentioned).

    And don't forget to practice connection with your partner, not just steps!
    Terpsichorean Clod and pygmalion like this.
  8. Chris Eaton

    Chris Eaton Member

    Thanks dbk, very wise words.
    I have tried to restrict my comments a little for last few days, because I didn't want people to think I was turning this thread into my own personal Blog :oops:

    Having said that, I can say that my excitement has certainly not abated, in fact if anything the nearer I get to Thursday (one more sleep!), the higher the level of anticipation. I have been busy the past few days (apart from work that is). I have been practicing in my kitchen, but it isn't very big and I can only get a few steps in. I keep the door shut, but my wife often bursts into the room to try to catch me mid-flutter.
    I eventually gave-up trying to avoid these interruptions and allowed her to see me practice a few steps. Once she had watched for a few minutes she lost interest and wandered off.

    However, she told me that she was telling all her workmates that I had started ballroom dancing, only to find that 3 members of her office were also dancers and that another 6 wanted to start and were too scared to go. So, it seems that BD (Ballroom Dancing) is indeed infectious!

    In the meantime, I have also been working on some clothes for dancing. I have bought a dress-shirt, with studs and cufflinks, like you wear with a Tux. These look very smart, but are very light, so that I wont get too hot. I bought a pair of patent BD shoes, but when they arrived today (much excitement in the office!) they turned out to be too small.
    I was very disappointed, because I was hoping to wear them tomorrow. I ordered size 9H (9 and a half) in UK sizes.
    This is my normal shoe size. When I phoned up they said that I should have ordered a half size larger. I remembered reading something like this on one of the forums, but on the retailers website it actually said "Order your normal shoe size". I pointed this out, but the lady at the other end said that this was wrong. I pointed out that it was their website, not mine. I should have listened to the advice on the forum!!! :(

    Oh well, another week in my normal shoes won't hurt at my level - Ha Ha!

    The other thing I have been researching, both on the Forum and myself, is the contentious subject of Online videos and DVD's. It would appear that subject splits the members into several factions, all with much to say.
    Some say that Online Videos and DVD's are only just short of the work of the Devil and should be avoided at all costs.
    Others say that they are the best thing since the Viennese Waltz and
    The third "faction" takes the more pragmatic view that if it helps you remember the steps, so that you can practice, then it is all good.. BUT, that you can't beat a proper teacher / partner.

    I think I fall onto the same opinion of the thrid group, who seem to accept that some people CAN pickup some of the basics from Books and Videos and some people just can't. I have always found learning from books easy and I also like the ability to play, replay and replay again an online video. I am TRYING to build up a "Playlist" of good quality videos.
    The short clips are very good, but there are other videos on YouTube which also have some good quality instruction for beginners. There also seem to be a lot of videos that SAY that they are instructions for beginners, which seem to be just an excuse for a couple to show-off the fact that THEY can dance the steps, without actually stopping to show us mere mortals how to do it. Sigh... I need more lessons!

    On a slightly different subject, has anyone ever asked whether the Forum could start a new High-Level Forum on the "Forums" page especially for Beginners. It could be called...... "Beginners" ... catchy huh?
    It could have a number of sticky threads, most of which already exist but are scattered around all the other Forums, like:

    • Dancing etiquette - How to make your teacher and dancemates happy
    • Clothes/Shoes - what to know and what NOT to buy
    • Books/Videos & DVD's - The Good, The Bad and the downright useless
    • Dance Styles - American or International(European)
    • Dance Music - where can I find some good music to practice my Waltz/Cha Cha/Rumba etc
    • More Info - other sources of information to look at
    • My 1st Lesson - your stories. Let us know what happened, let us all share the excitement!
    What do you think?

    Terpsichorean Clod likes this.
  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    This is much appreciated. But, that said, don't be afraid to post. It sounds like you're checking out all sorts of older DF threads. Post your questions there. I think you might be surprised at how willing people are to spend their time to help you.

    I can hardly wait to hear what happens at your lesson tomorrow. :)

    Shoe fit is weird. If I'm trying out a new brand, I prefer to try them in person, even if I later order them online at a lower price.

    You're right. There are a bunch of helpful threads out there. Here's one to start.
  10. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I am a teacher, so I'll weigh in from that perspective. You've already been given a lot of great advice. Here are some random thoughts:

    1. Spend more money on dance lessons than clothes, although good dance shoes can be helpful. What pyg said on sizing. Most frustrating. Go easy on the cologne, please.
    2. Videos are a good supplement to classes and lessons. The problem with youtube is that any schmo can post a youtube video, and it may not be right. Even if they're very friendly and offer all kinds of instruction, it could be the wrong instruction. Of course, the teacher at your studio could be wrong, too.
    3. You are going to learn some stuff wrong. You are going to practice the wrong stuff. Just get used to it now and get over it. Do what you can and be flexible.
    4. As fasc pointed out, I generally have 5 minutes between classes/lessons to pee, eat a power bar, find my music, remember what I planned to teach that night, say hi to 50 people, get a much needed hug, and get to my next class/lesson. So, yeah...not a lot of time for questions. However, I do always ask if there are questions at the end of class, and sometimes during. Even if I don't, if someone raises their hand and asks one quick question, even if it's about practice or the saturday night dance or whatever instead of the pattern we're working on that night, I'm happy to answer it. It's only an issue if it becomes pervasive. I'd rather you get the info you need and practice than feel like you're in the dark. Pay attention to your teacher's body language. If you're talking to her, and she seems twitchy and poised for flight, it's probably time to end the conversation. Occasional email is fine, but do bear in mind what someone said about having 30 people in class (in that class alone) and what it would be like if all of them emailed. Personally, I'd rather answer the question in class than have five people email me.
    5. Take notes after class, as soon as you can (without holding them up from closing the studio, please). Write down everything you can remember.
    6. You're not expected to remember absolutely everything from one lesson to the next. Just try to get most of it.
    7. There's a lot to be said for thinking about dance. Ever practice visualization? There's a thread here about it. If you can picture yourself doing the steps in your head, it will help you remember when you go to physically practice.
    pygmalion likes this.
  11. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yes to what tt said, especially.

    2) Be careful with youtube. (I think I said this in my first post, as well. Maybe ...) Anyway. There is a TON of good stuff on youtube, but, especially at the beginning, you may not be able to tell the good stuff from the bad stuff, when it comes to practice material. Just like you said. You youtubed rumba and watched several videos, only to find out later that what you were watching was American rumba (not what you wanted) instead of International rumba (what you wanted.) There are lots of potential gotchas like that. So be careful when choosing stuff to practice. It certainly can't hurt to watch dance, just for entertainment or inspiration. Just be careful what you practice. Don't want to pick up bad habits unnecessarily. :cool:

    4. I think that you should be able to ask a quick question. As has been said multiple times in multiple ways, it's not a good idea to monopolize the whole class's time with your personal concerns, but sheesh. If you can't ask a question before class, after class, during class or via email, then when? You're in CLASS. A good teacher will be, like tt, happy to answer your questions within reason. The trick is figuring out the best time to ask. None of us here can tell you that;we can only make recommendations based on what has worked or not worked for us. So this is one of those deals where you're going to have to use your powers of observation and find a time that you perceive to be least intrusive to ask your question(s.) As tt said, you'll be able to tell by your teacher's body language whether it's a good time.

    Best of luck later today!
  12. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    It depends:
    -DVD content (some are on steps, some are on fundamental technique)
    -demonstration quality (if it's a world class dancer, you can learn from even the things they aren't discussing explicitly)
    -personal learning style (some people are visual, some kinesthetic, some auditory, etc.)
    -proficiency level (the more experienced you are, the more you can get out of it; a newbie might not find a fundamentals video particularly beneficial, whereas an advanced dancer might extract nuggets even from a steps DVD)
  13. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Any thoughts or feedback n your lesson last night, Chris? And oh, btw, there's nothing wrong with your potentially starting your own thread about your adventures and discoveries as a compete ballroom newbie. There are quite a few blog along type threads in DF. Personal experiences are very beneficial for others who may be in the same boat. :cool: :)
  14. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    as long as every thread you start isn't a self focused thread...certainly...
  15. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    * crosses off "why am I here" thread as a choice*:D kidding ​
  16. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    True. Nothing more tiresome than thread after thread of navel gazing. But Chris has shown absolutely no sign of that. In the time I've been in DF, he is one of the few who has taken the time and effort to dig through years of backlog before placing his first post in an appropriate existing thread. He has asked good questions, been a good sport when he got feedback from all sorts of angles, done research and reading in older relevant threads, looked for resources on his own, kept us posted about progress, shown restraint even when he wanted to come back and gush and post and whine.

    In short, he's been a model DF citizen. I honestly cannot see him changing now. Besides. I want to hear what happened at his lesson. I hope and hope that it was not a disappointment.
    dbk likes this.
  17. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    not only that hes a man that wants to dance

    we are rare birds... cant scare one off:D
    pygmalion likes this.
  18. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    no one has suggested otherwise...since he is new and expressed a concern, I provided him with what would be unwelcome...nothing more ...nothing need to come to his defense
  19. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yet I felt the need. Chris has been cautioned multiple times in this thread not to do things he shows no indication of doing -- crushing on a teacher, stealing teachers' break time, monopolizing class time, becoming self absorbed, etc. That's not who he he is, at least from anything he's posted. IMHO, he's just an ordinary bloke who's excited about his first dance lessons.

    I think that those of us who have been around for a long time can become jaded and conflate one person/situation with another. When I "meet"a DF newb, it's hard not to compare them to other DFers I've known in the past. But they're not other DFers. They are themselves, and I think they should have a clean slate and be allowed to experience DF for themselves and make a track record of their own, not repeatedly be reminded of things other people have done.
  20. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    cautioning a person about common occurances and judging them are two different things...all of which I stated emphatically and clearly when I did it...and the former is a way of simply letting a person consider some of the things that others have experienced in the past while still unsuspecting....that being said, I don't need the lecture nor appreciate it...but you have said your piece and I hope can let it drop now....I am not jaded at least not by the newbs...and I think we can do a better job of staying on topic...which isn't your perception of my approach to newbs

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