Tag Archives: Teaching

Dance Teachers…What do you want to teach..?

Fellow teachers,

Dance teachers, get to travel a lot and sometimes when you are stuck in the subway, you can be taught a lot…and have fun too!

Downtown, middle of the day, and the subway stops..!
TTC– “We apologize for the inconvenience..!”
And as I am about to turn into a very angry bird…

Teachers--what do you like to teach?
A very interesting conversation is starting right next to me..!

Three teenagers are talking about a book they had to read for school, in order to earn a good mark. One of them says he will only read the summary and that is when it all began as the other two accused him of cheating!!!

Nothing interesting so far I know…wait for it though..!

A lady, sitting right next to them, jumps to the opportunity, saying she can’t but interfere because she is doing a masters in education so the debate is just too interesting. And if they could please lay it out for her…

She started by saying that indeed it is not cheating, since there is going to be a test with questions. If one can answer the questions, just by reading the summary, then that simply means that the questions are too easy..! (Valid point indeed!)

Then that led into how they are the young blood of society and they need to demand more from the school system. Which led into, the difference between being clever and being intelligent…which led into how clever people use the system to use others like when her father–who is sexist–tried to stop her from going to university…Which led into how Donald Trump is clever and able to use the system, and he may lead US to idiocy…and so on and so forth…

Bottom line: The teenagers should try to become intelligent, should demand more from their schools and they should start by writing an article about all this, which they should send to the “Globe” not to “Toronto Star”, we are keeping things classy! haha
(I am not making this up..!)

What did the teanagers do..? Nothing!

They said, not one word and they probably even stopped listening after the first few minutes of this 15min monologue!

But it got me thinking..!
What is the teacher’s goal, when she is asking her students to read a book?
To get her students to answer the questions right or to get to them to love reading, to love learning?

I want to believe, based on my experience from good teachers during my school years, that teachers hope to teach their students how to love knowledge!

I believe that their wish is to have students, who will grow up enjoying a good book, enjoy learning new things, enjoy getting into new adventures, broadening their horizons, changing their views about life, becoming whole individuals..!

Now obviously the students believe that the purpose of this exercise is to just answer the questions correctly…expected misunderstanding…hah

Haven’t you ever been in a class, teaching a new routine, where your primary focus is getting everyone to experience movement, teach them how to create something beautiful with their partner, teach them to love to dance…BUT…everybody in the class is trying to get their right foot perfectly at a 42⁰ angle to their partner’s foot?!?!?!

As teachers–and as students actually–we have all been there and I know it took me a few years to find the right balance between transferring the essence of the dance and actually teaching the serious technical part of the dance. So I tried to put down a few pointers that helped me get where I am and I am hoping to hear back from you with more ideas!

So here we go:

  • Give them time to dance!
    Though this might sound obvious, before you start introducing a full sequence, allow them to dance. Allow them to have an experience of their own on the element of improvisation and then start building the sequence slowly along with making corrections on their technique
  • Notice how you structure the class. Often times in our attempt to be clear and as specific as possible, we keep the technique exercises separate from the dance/ sequencing part of the class. I am not saying that is always a bad idea, but maybe sometimes you might want to change things up and instead connect your technique exercises to your sequence-building.
  • This can give you an opportunity to make some of the more difficult elements of the dance, easier to explain.
    For example, say you want to work on the posture. Instead of describing the posture and very clearly take the students through different exercises focusing on the posture. Consider putting a sequennce and then asking them to go through it, shifting their focus to different parts of the body. For example, they can initiate the movement from their atlas. Or instead, focus to  the middle of the body–where the kidneys are. Depending on how they are responding to this all, you can ask them to focus internally. Make them move from their heart, their lungs, move from within.
    This way, as they are dancing, they get to revisit their posture multiple times, following slightly different paths each time. The posture then becomes part of the dance experience, instead of just another thing they have to do.
  • Consider changing the music playlist in class more often. Organizing the music pieces based on the sequences you are teaching. This will give you the opportunity to talk about musicality more often instead of waiting for a musicality workshop. Plus your students will view improvisation as a subject, not as challenging, after understanding the logic behind it.
  • Lastly don’t forget to remind them, why they are in your class..! As teachers often times we need to remind our students that they are here to learn how to dance. They are here to have fun, as they are working past the frustration in order to become better!
    In order to do that, as the time passes, we need to focus on getting better and better. This way we will be inspiring and inspired! We can motivate and we are staying motivated! To stay on top of our game, we need to  keep practicing and find time to spend with ourselves.
    So give yourself, the time you need to practice. But also go out, and spent some time within your Tango community! Relax, dance and have some fun!

Take care me fellow teachers and keep on inspiring more and more people to dance!

Looking forward to hearing your ideas..!
Chrisa Assis

Photo credit:https://jp3g Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND