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 the perspectives I’ve listed below, 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 rapidly 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 students who could hear 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 will 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 valuable information 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 and talking less. Would you rather read about riding a bike or ride a bike? Would you rather describe the color red or show it?
If I have a question, usually it’s because I couldn’t see what the instructor was doing or I missed what they said, or simply needed an additional “view” of what they were showing. Most of my questions are answered when I began to listen more with my eyes.
That class that I taught to the deaf students learned the shim sham in 15 minutes! Much faster than any other class who could hear me loud and clear.
In class, you have to remember that 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 all have a choice in that matter, and listening with our eyes from my experience will help you accelerate your learning curve.
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. “I’ve taken Charleston,” or “Oh, I took from that teacher last time,” etc….etc.
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. I use this approach for every class that I take, so that I can duplicate the dance 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 absorb whatever you are learning from that perspective and add it to your dance repertoire.
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.
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.
When I take class, immediately all the distractions present in the room that have the potential to hinder my focus get obliterated.
- I don’t destroy it, but my cell phone is turned off.
- I also limit my time talking whenever changing partners in class.
- And lastly, I seek out the advice of the teacher before listening to a student who is also learning with me.
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 on the outside 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.
It’s funny, but here is a practical example of something I do to keep my focus on the teacher.
I put my hands 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.
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 into the social dance scene.
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.
These are some concepts that have empowered me to get better results the last 129 events I’ve attended the last 5 years.
I want you to be a master of this dance, so enjoy the journey, and try some of these success strategies to help you maximize your class experience.