Silly things non-dancers say

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
Exactly. And I always do talk to them about practice. It's a learned skill. You have to train both your mind and your body to do it. Five minutes a day, or even two or three of the days between lessons, does far more good than cramming for 30 minutes right before your lesson...or nothing. Just so you remember what the steps are so we don't have to start all over. Then they come back for their second lesson with all kinds of excuses as to why they couldn't find five minutes to practice. The fact that they don't remember anything is usually a pretty good wake up call, and some of them manage to find time after that.
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
I don't remember if I covered this one before:

"We don't look like we're dancing." 20 minutes into their very first lesson. Really? Because it doesn't sound like I'm speaking Mandarin 20 minutes into my first lesson, either. WTF do you think we're doing here? This isn't the Matrix. You can't download a skill into your brain and be instantly trained.
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
I have said it many times...most people think that dance will be like the acquisition of other knowlege....but it isn't...it is more like learning to play an instument...it takes much longer to really own it...than just merely understanding the concept at it's most basic level
 

Cal

Well-Known Member
I'm a bit curious - when you discuss practicing, do you give them something that they CAN compare it to? For instance, do you tell them that, just like when they were in high school, the basketball team didn't just show up for the game on Friday - they had to spend X hours at practice each day, running drills and conditioning. I know that I would have found that helpful when I first started to take lessons. Or are you worried that the comparison will scare them off?

I do have some sympathy with new dancers who aren't given any kind of realistic comparisons, but are just expected to know that a "lot of practice" is needed.
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
agree...I see it all the time at the gym...people come in to take a step class and are stunned that they have no clue how to change patterns, which foot to use, etc....and they are comparing themselves to people who have been there for years...i try to always catch the new folks and give them appropriate expectations...I think there is a tendency at many studios however, to label dance as simple easy and fun....so that is what people expect...shrug...isn't exactly the whole truth....but tedious, challenging and intimidating doesn'texactly promote sales
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
Yes, I am very good at drawing comparisons. If they talk about other skills they have or their job, I find something to draw a comparison so they understand. "How long did it take you to learn X?" "Oh, forever!" "Bingo." I also help them manage their expectations.
 

Cal

Well-Known Member
I think there is a tendency at many studios however, to label dance as simple easy and fun....so that is what people expect...shrug...isn't exactly the whole truth....but tedious, challenging and intimidating doesn'texactly promote sales
Very good point.
Merely as a matter of speculation: the students who would be put off by being told that learning how to dance can involve practice that can be tedious, challenging and intimidating - won't they be the ones who quit anyway, whether they are forewarned or not?
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
I think that depends upon the teacher...if the teacher accpets that the main point is FUN rather that progress...I think that match could last long enough to be worth it for both parties...

I think that, in the end, how long something lasts is almost always about how compatible the teacher and student remain....

I think that if people who want to keep it fun are pressured to get serious...could be a problem...if people want to get good and think it will stay fun all the time, could be a problem...

if the ratio of fun/progress shifts for someone...sure, a problem...
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
it can be fun...it can also be something that does not feel fun in the moment but the challenge is fun in it's own way....not everyone wants option B or thinks it is fun
 
So sorry, but I'm one of those that sits for 5-10 minutes before the lesson not infrequently. Sometimes that's the only 5-10 minutes of quiet, by myself time to decompress for a bit in a crazy day.

If most students at your studio regularly warm up or practice before a lesson, I can understand the expectation. But quite honestly, many students don't think to do it and need some gentle prodding. They may need specific direction or suggestions on what/how to practice. I mean, who ever practiced math on their own after math class? That's why the teacher assigns homework problems. And it depends on the studio culture... at my first studio, there are generally several lessons occurring on the floor at the same time, and there would be a strong expectation that solo practice-ers would stay out of the way on an already populated floor. And finally, some students (myself included) do feel self-conscious practicing where others can watch. I know, "get over it", but just saying, everyone's comfort zone there is different - not everyone would be comfortable doing their math homework on a whiteboard where other people can watch either.
As a fellow sit and stare off into space person, I can totally agree. I'm usually not doing nothing when I sit, I'm relaxing and getting into a "dance mindset" and thinking about what questions I need to ask my coach this lesson (my lessons are kind of weird in that they're very, very Q&A focused...he knows I'll practice the hell out of what he tells me so no need to reiterate it a ton).
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
I have two different couples I teach who are older (50s/60s). At first I was frustrated at their lack of progress, and then I realized...theyr'e just doing this for fun and don't really care whether they progress. They want to show up at their lessons, they do practice a little in between and sometimes go out dancing, but they're good with how things are going. They look forward to their lessons every week. So, I let it go and just have fun with them and push them only as much as is appropriate to keep it interesting without too much pressure.
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
My reference to people sitting there for 5-10 minutes before their lesson is more about beginners or wedding couples (who often couldn't find time to practice during the week) rather than dedicated dance students who have already put in a reasonable amount of practice. These are people who then get to their lesson and take a few minutes to remember (or get retaught) even the basic step--if they'd practiced, they might have made better use of the first few minutes of their lesson.
 

cornutt

Well-Known Member
I have said it many times...most people think that dance will be like the acquisition of other knowlege....but it isn't...it is more like learning to play an instument...it takes much longer to really own it...than just merely understanding the concept at it's most basic level
Maybe I should start a new thread on this... but I think a lot of the difficulty that new students have (and that we sometimes have with them) is that popular culture has created the perception that dancing is just choreography: you do a sequence of moves in a particular order, and that's dancing. That's why the idea of connecting and communicating with your partner is so foreign to them, because the way that dance is described in popular media tends to hide the existence of any such thing. Think about when they talk about mechanics on DWTS or SCD. Even when they seem to be getting pretty involved, they are still usually talking about steps -- things that the layperson can see. Pop dances are all about moves. People who don't know better expect partner dancing to be the same way.
 

danceronice

Well-Known Member
it is FUN to learn dance, in itself. Dumbing it down seldom makes things more fun.
Um.."fun" is different for different people. I'm results-oriented, not process-oriented. At work, I don't care how you accomplish something, just do it. With my horse I don't care if I look like a drunken monkey so long as I don't hit his back or mouth and he does what I need him to do (in fairness and relatedly, I'm a good enough rider with almost 30 years experience, I can get away with that choice.) The way some people teach and talk about Standard I would sincerely rather stab myself in the hand than learn it that way because it's WAY too fixated on compartmentalized process. If I came into that early in dance, I'd quit.

As far as building warm-up into lessons, NP usually starts us with something like a run-through of the rumba, or if he's feeling sadistic, slow fox, before we really start going through things. I will stretch if I get there in time and have my own system for that but I don't dance much outside of lessons. I've found repeating actions that are going to feel radically different with a partner is counterproductive so I spend more time on related skills (if I keep up with ballet barres, my rise and fall in bolero is much more controlled, etc.) But I'm hypersensitive to feel and presence/absence of a partner messes with my muscle memory. Even the difference between how NP leads at home and how he leads at a comp can throw me way off.
 

danceronice

Well-Known Member
This. Exactly. I can drill something 100x, but the presence of another human being that I am connected to always completely fouls up whatever I thought I had down pat. It's as though it literally changes something in my brain (which I wouldn't be surprised if that was true).

Having said that, I do find solo practice to be very helpful if I'm doing Showcase, i.e. to get the choreography (steps) more ingrained in my brain.
Exactly, if it's something that I'm doing basically on my own where the other person's weight and timing aren't involved, fine, but the instant it has to be connected to another person it does not register. This hurts Standard the most (I can do three step and feather finish or Viennese crosses all day long across the floor, put me in closed hold and it goes straight to pot.) But anything involving weight transfer is especially bad. OTOH I can do jive basics or similar by myself.
 

dancelvr

Well-Known Member
Exactly, if it's something that I'm doing basically on my own where the other person's weight and timing aren't involved, fine, but the instant it has to be connected to another person it does not register. This hurts Standard the most (I can do three step and feather finish or Viennese crosses all day long across the floor, put me in closed hold and it goes straight to pot.) But anything involving weight transfer is especially bad. OTOH I can do jive basics or similar by myself.
Same here! When I was dancing Latin, I found practicing by myself (step combinations or hip action or rumba walks with the grocery cart while shopping etc.) was MUCH easier than trying to practice Standard, especially with my floor space restrictions. The one exception I found was working on heel turns in my kitchen. THAT was invaluable. :) If I had my own practice floor, things might be a little different. *sigh* Where's my winning lottery ticket?
 

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