Dance classes are a tremendous gift for those who want to learn. Dancers should be paid royalties like musicians for their incredible talents, especially when they are spent empowering the dancers of the future. People ask me often what classes they should take and from whom. My typical response is what do you want to learn, and are you ready to be instructed.
They normally give me the same answer followed by a yes I’m ready. They then ask me what my secret is in learning so quickly, and want to have the same formula and approach to help them in their dance journey. I then remind them that there is no such thing as an insignificant moment, and to be ready to approach their class sessions with these perspectives if they want to get the results that I continue to gain from classes.
Taking class as a student almost seems like a pointless statement, however there is a certain perspective that I’ve attached to for many years that has in turn accelerated my learning curve. Years ago I taught a class to some students who could not hear. I was terrified in being able to teach them at first. Within minutes of my instruction I noticed a significant difference between how they looked at me as I taught compared to other classes who could hear me perfectly.
They had developed an amazing skill to listen with their eyes. No matter what was happening in the room, the students gazed at me with a fixed intensity that made me feel appreciated as a teacher and intimidated simultaneously. People are fighting for attention and when you give it to them willingly they like you and appreciate you more. As a student, if you do this you will bring the best out of the teacher in your favor.
Some may call it brown nosing, but I like to call it showing your gratitude for the teachers gift. Any time someone is sharing something with you that you are learning listen more with your eyes, and ask questions less. If everyone listened with their eyes more the teacher would be able to elucidate on the implications of what they are sharing by showing more rather than talking more. Would you rather read about riding a bike or ride a bike? Would you rather describe the color red or show it? This happens to me every class that I take.
If I have a question it is usually because I couldn’t see what they were doing or hear what they said, or need another “view” of what it may be that they are showing. Most of my questions are answered when I began to listen more with my eyes. That class that I taught learned the shim sham in 10 minutes. Much faster than any other class that I’ve taught that could hear me loud and clear. You can talk to your neighbor or listen to the teacher, be focused or distracted, be in a good mood or be in a bad one. Either way we have a choice in that matter, and listening with our eyes will help accelerate your learning curve like it did mine.
Many students tell me that they don’t want to take a certain class because they are familiar with the class title and or have taken a similar session before. Most of us are familiar with our shower and our deodorant, but we take a shower and use deodorant everyday.
Another dynamic approach that I’ve trained myself to use is taking class as if I’m going to teach the information to other students.This approach I use for every class that I take so that I can duplicate the dance in my scene more effectively. You may already feel you understand the information before you take class, and that may be true.
However, like musicians there are many different ways to play a melody, so just learn it in a new key and add to your musical repertoire so that you can be more diverse and skilled. You can also look at taking the class as if you are the only person who is being given the opportunity to learn what you are learning to share it with a peoples who’ve never seen it before.
This approach helps me focus on me and the teacher, as if we were in a private session. If you were taking a private, most likely you would find a quiet spot in a room shut the door and hang on every word the teacher shared. You may not be able to do that in a class session because there are many people.
What I do is close the door to distractions that can hinder my learning experience. Shut off your cell phone, limit your talking whenever you rotate within the class, and seek out the advice of the teacher before you listen to a student who is also learning with you. Most of us pay a lot of money to take class, and want to get an opinion from someone standing in the middle of the circle rather than someone in the rotation of the circle.
Giving your attention to someone who is also learning with you is a bad return on your investment. It’s easy to listen to someone who just talks. If I was getting surgery I would want to listen to the doctor and not an intern.
Sometimes to keep my focus on the teacher, I put my hands on on my knees and lean forward with my attention toward the middle of the circle. I have yet to see someone lean over with their hands on their knees and continue to talk next to me.
There is also an incredible resource provided by Rhythm Juice that will give you some incredible teaching and development opportunity from your home. Check out the Total Swing Experience on the right side of the article, hosted by Dax Hock.
When you take class you are investing not only in yourself but in the community. Others don’t know it yet, but are depending on you to inspire them in the dance. Begin with the end in mind every time you take class. Your success zone and comfort zone are unparalleled, so you will have to do something different if you want to get better results.
Experience creates wisdom. Continue to take class as a student, start learning how to see yourself teaching what you learn, and focus as if you are taking a private. These are some concepts that have empowered me to get better results the last 30 plus events I’ve attended the last two years. It’s not A to Z, but A through Z.
Enjoy the journey, so later you can teach it. Share these principles with dancers who could benefit. Have a stress free week.