If you are a dance teacher, first let me say "Thank You!".
We all owe you our gratitude for sharing your love of dancing with us.
Besides putting their time and money on the line, the biggest price dance teachers pay is with their hearts.
The most important thing dance teachers provide is leadership.
The price of this leadership is emotional commitment.
Building a dance community is a difficult task.
Recruiting new dancers is not easy.
I have run classes where only one student came
and I have been to classes where I was the only student that came.
Sometimes no one shows up.
Dance teachers go through a lot of disappointment on their way.
Only through their devotion, do we have the opportunity to enjoy dancing.
I have found all dance teachers to be excellent.
No matter what class I go to, I always learn something.
While dance teachers are exceptionally knowledgeable overall,
when it comes to how to communicate with a dance partner,
dance teachers have been handicapped.
I have read hundreds of books, treatises and other writings on dance and been to countless classes and workshops
with professional dancers, choreographers, performers and champion competitors.
While their superb skills are as impressive as you would expect,
when it comes to communicating with a dance partner,
everyone is just making stuff up.
While much of that stuff is good, much of that stuff is not good.
All of that stuff is inconsistent from one teacher to another and from one dance to another.
As far as I have seen,
not one person knows how to communicate with a dance partner in a simple, logical manner
that works in the same way for different dances.
What is a student of dance to do?
What is a teacher of dance to do?
This situation is not anyone's fault.
The problem is, aside from Partnership Dancing SM,
there is no clearly defined method for communicating in social dancing.
Not having a logical method of communicating causes a lot of issues.
One big problem is learning how to dance with a partner is much harder than it should be.
The harder learning to dance is, the fewer people will do it.
In my small town, the most popular dances are the contra dances.
The contra dances almost always have at least 60 to 100 people or more.
The ballroom and swing dances have only 20 to 30 people attending.
Contra dancing is easy.
People can go contra dancing their very first time and have fun without taking lessons.
Contrast that with ballroom and swing dancing which requires a weekly commitment
to lessons over many months before being able to dance.
People like to dance.
The more accessible we make dancing, the more people will participate.
As a dance community, we need to make learning to dance easier.
No matter what we do, learning to dance with a partner is going to take going to class.
There is no question about that.
True, people can go contra dancing without lessons, but the quality of dancing is often poor.
Contra dancers would benefit from lessons on how to dance with a partner.
There were a few women from my swing classes that were no longer going to the contra dances.
I asked them why they no longer went to the contra dances and they all said the same thing.
They did not enjoy the contra dances because there is too much pushing and pulling.
Now that they knew better, they found contra dancing uncomfortable
and they were afraid of getting hurt.
One problem is that even when people learn good skills for one dance, they do not know how to apply them in other dances.
I have found the tango dancers to have made the best study of balance and communication of any of the dances.
I was briefly attempting to swing dance with one of the women tango dancers, who is an excellent tango follower.
As soon as she was doing swing, she violated everything she knew from tango.
She was off balance and pushing and pulling to move herself around.
She had the physical skills to follow swing, but she had only learned to apply them in tango.
We do need to teach people how to dance with a partner in a consistent, simple way that works the same for every dance.
Once people learn how to communicate, they can apply the same skills to every dance.
This way, whatever teacher people go to, whatever dance they study, they will learn the same method of communicating.
They will build on their skills and get better each time they go dancing.
This will make learning to dance easier and people will want to dance more.
Two women that had studied swing, hustle and folk dancing with me for many years started dancing tango.
I referred them to my tango teacher.
My tango teacher was thrilled with them.
She praised them for being the fastest learners she had seen.
I told my tango teacher, only part in jest, that I took credit for their fast progress,
because I taught them how to communicate through their balance, which was why they were able to learn tango so quickly.
for the first time, provides a logical system of communicating that works for every social dance.
When you have a logical system for communicating, you can answer questions about how to signal.
I was at my friend Richard's Rumba Dance class.
Richard was demonstrating an underarm, walk-around turn.
One of the students asked, "How do you lead that?"
Richard explained that you raise your hand and give the signal for the woman to walk around.
The student asked if it was alright to also give her a little nudge with your other hand on her back.
Richard thought for a second and looked at me.
I shook my head no.
Richard then said, "No. If you also use your other hand on her back,
you will be training her to wait for the hand on her back as the signal."
Partnership Dancing clearly defines the rules and signals, so everyone knows what to do without ambiguity.
Partnership Dancing provides you with a simple method of communicating using an easy to remember framework of ABCD.
Like any field, teaching dance can benefit from a systematic approach.
I was giving a workshop in Detroit.
During the sessions I had answered many questions.
The local dance teacher and organizer of the workshop was a physicist and brilliant.
At one point he said to me, "How do you know the answer to every question so quickly?"
I said, "Basic principles."
Even though each question seemed different, they all fell under the basic principles
elucidated in the ABCDs of Partnership Dancing.
As a dance teacher, Partnership Dancing will:
- Help you to create safe, respectful dance groups by addressing people's safety, courtesy and comfort first.
- Help you to teach people to communicate in the most natural manner so they can improvise to the music with the greatest freedom of expression.
- Help you to create a true feeling of partnership, eliminating conflict by clearly defining each partner's responsibilities.
- Help accelerate the progress of your students by teaching them an unambiguous method of communicating that is simple,
logical and universal, working the same with every person in every dance.
You will only need to teach your students to communicate once and they will be able to communicate in every dance.
Your students will have more fun, find learning easier, improve faster, be happier and come back more often.
Read Selected Excerpts from
Partnership Dancing SM
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