What is the best type of class? Where and when does it happen? What are the ingredients?
This would be a fabulous world wide survey for the Lindy Hop community. I would love to see the results.
I think good classes can happen anywhere, at anytime depending on the teacher’s intention.
Is the intention to entertain, self promote, play, share, challenge?
Event organizers make a difference by determining the schedule. Giving teachers more, uninterrupted time with a specific group usually yields better results.
Before I continue, let me say that this year was a particularly fantastic “Beantown”. We had gorgeous weather, high attendance and happy people. It was the 20th anniversary! Big congrats to the organizers Tony and Aurelie. http://www.beantowncamp.com
I was especially excited that Simon, my fiancé, took classes for the first time. This heightened my curiosity about what type of class would be most useful and beneficial.
It occurred to me that at most big weekend workshops (and even the week long summer ones) the goal usually is to fascinate students with fun, new moves and make sure everyone is entertained. If there is a large teacher line up, students generally only get to see a teaching couple for one maybe two hours over the span of a festival, so it’s easy to forget class content. This means teachers want to razzel, dazzle them and pack every class in hopes of being memorable and making an impact.
But maybe this approach is doing students a disservice.
If someone really wants to study something and get good at it, they have to realize it takes time. It takes time for ideas to sink in, time for the body to learn coordination and time for repetition which is not always the most entertaining. It’s actually quite tedious.
All that can not be completed in a one hour class. I don’t know if all teachers keep this in mind. I mean of course we all realize it takes time for concepts to soak in, but in the typical one hour class, what are we as Teachers suppose to give students that will truly help them improve when we most often feel the urge to do fun, flashy stuff?
Moving quickly past the basic to show the “interesting” variation is not going to create better dancers.
If anything, that is going to foster restless students who think they have mastered something and impatiently crave the next step. Or sadder, it will draw out insecurities in students who don’t feel comfortable moving on but are to ashamed and unwilling to ask for more practice time.
If teachers continue to treat students to flashy candy moves without explaining (or given time to work on) core basics like rhythm, posture, connection and foundational moves, then our community will be left with only the outer crust of a pie that has no filling, no taste and nothing to chew on.
I have definitely been guilty of this, especially when I was a younger teacher, because I was worried about whether people were enjoying my classes. But here we are, Michael and I, over 10 years of teaching, being dance partners and working regularly. I know now what is needed to make a good class.
Teaching a good class is not about how much material you fit it, or even how fun it is; it’s about what truths you can give to the students and how you help them physically experience it. Physical exercises and repetition will help students improve the most in a class. And if you can allow students to physically do as much as possible in that one hour class, preferably to music, that will make a stronger impact in their bodies.