Beginner class begins again, with some veterans

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Beginner class begins again, with some veterans

Post  denismurf on Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:03 pm

Here we go again tomorrow, Feb 25, with 14 enrolled. Five were in the fall class, and 2 are not really beginners. They just like my style and hope to have a good time. There will be 2 males in the class this time.

I'm hoping to be able to move along faster than last time with people who already know the first night's material scattered among the total novices. But you never know. I've taught beginner classes many times and am always surprised by how difficult some groups of people find the generic dances - pravo, syrtos, devetorka, cocek.

People familiar with my prejudices already know that I consider arm choreography the chief physical barrier to accessibility for novices. So I just don't teach dances with it, except for the occasional dip as in Sweet Girl.

As always, it's a big thrill to start a class, and I can hardly wait!

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new beginner class

Post  denismurf on Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:02 pm

Whoopee. Only 3 of the new people have never danced before, and 2 of them will almost certainly not return because they physically can't keep up. Upshot is that the new group mastered in one night some things that took the pure beginner class 4 weeks. This experience made me realize what incredibly hard (and unrewarding for me) work it is to teach people who have never danced at all. Every class I teach from now on will include at least something like, "previous dance experience helpful (or suggested or recommended)."

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Only 3 classes to go

Post  denismurf on Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:22 pm

Wow, where does all the time go?

We're down to about 10 hardcores now. For class #5, I forced in paidushko, ushest, and Misirlou, with Lo Brisa Pe for comic relief. Half could not quite master ushest at full speed, but by next week everyone should be in control, ready for Dospatsko and maybe even for a gankino. What a huge difference in skill/experience level from the last class.

Problem now, as it was in St. Louis, is how to integrate the "new" people into the existing groups and venues. The Balkan group will probably accommodate them to some extent, but the international group is so far into sets and specialized couple dances that they just don't have time to squeeze in a bunch of nonpartner stuff.

Only 2 from the last class showed up at any functions except my sessions. I'll probably just continue to enjoy my own dances and not worry about the larger picture. The people who run the existing groups appear studiously uninterested in courting my folks. I don't get it.

It might be time to shut this little venture down -- the forum, that is, not my teaching. We'll see.

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Shutting down the forum?

Post  Dansingsal on Mon Mar 30, 2009 4:09 pm

Hi Denis,

I tried. I advertised this in the Texas IFD newsletter. This forum fills (or would fill) a need that the eefc list doesn't. The NFO list doesn't do what this one could do either. Those are the only other lists I'm aware of; maybe a second plug on those two, for this forum, would help? It's very sad too that your local established groups are not making an effort to integrate your new "graduates." We all had to start somewhere, and if we are not welcoming to beginners, we're sunk.

I hate to see it go, if it must. Is there anything I can do to help give it another push?

Sally

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Continuing the forum

Post  denismurf on Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:57 pm

Thanks for the comment, Sal.

Last week's free time went to taxes, but I'm back now. On further reflection, might as well let the forum sit around a while. It costs nothing, and it might eventually kick back into activity.

It isn't so much that the local groups don't want new people. They do, but on their own terms; which is not that unusual. My whole shtick is built around humor, socializing, community cohesion, and a conscious absence of stylistic nit picking. Most groups/leaders/teachers are quite a bit more disciplined than I am.

We have a big Folklife festival coming here at the end of May, and I've taught all the generic Balkan steps they're likely to encounter there, plus a few Israeli. To prevent hurt feelings, though, I feel obliged to warn my people that they might get hassled by enforcers of the "one right way" and that they should just smile and say "this is the way I learned it" or "I'm just doing it the way that person over there is doing it."

I recently attended a meeting that included lists of dances the bands are going to play at that festival and which would be taught. As soon as everybody got the lists, heated discussions broke out all around the room with a common theme: which/whose version of that dance are you going to do/teach? Whoop-de-do.

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Re: Beginner class begins again, with some veterans

Post  Jeremy Hull on Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:11 pm

I'm always amazed when I hear about groups where people tend to be very strict about dancing the "right way," according to whatever they think is right. I think it may just reflect greater specialization in dancing.

Sorry to hear you are considering shutting down the forum, but I guess most people just don't have the time to join another community or discussion group. Good luck to everyone with their ongoing dancing!

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Keeping the forum going

Post  Dansingsal on Thu Apr 30, 2009 1:34 pm

Hi Denis and everyone,

I had another thought but don't know how to act on it. Speaking for myself, I prefer to be on lists where the input goes to my regular e-mail inbox, or at least a notice that there has been a new posting. This particular forum is in a format where I have to purposely GO to it, rather than having it come to me, if that makes sense. Just my 2 cents.

I've been teaching some children for about 8 weeks now. Maximum attendance has been 7 kids (sometimes a couple of parents, not always) and a few times I've had only one. No matter what, it's always fun and rewarding. We limit the lessons to one hour, and make sure to reward them with their favorite dances (Sasha, Hashual, even Heyamo) when they've worked hard at a new dance, step, or skill. It's amazing how a one-week "gelling period" works; they struggle with a dance during the lesson, but when they come back the next week, they not only remember it, but are ready to move on to the next figure, or a styling point, or to speed up the music to normal speed. It's fun to watch their brains work. 7/8 rhythm was really weird to them when I introduced it last week; it will be interesting to see them again tonight.

Sally

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Re: Beginner class begins again, with some veterans

Post  denismurf on Thu May 07, 2009 11:39 pm

I think you got it right, Sally. A mailing list works much better at maintaining conversations. Trouble is, I have no idea how to set one up. Do you? If we do manage to switch over, I'll just let this forum continue to sit here as an archive that one can click to. There really is a lot of helpful and creative stuff here.

If you yourself can't do this, I'll email all existing members and see if somebody's out there to do it. -- Denis

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