Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lindy Shock - Impresssions & thoughts

On Behavior

Any workshop or dance camp offers a teaching environment and we all go there to learn. Some people don’t seem to remember that, however; they are rude and obnoxious in class - or maybe they were rude and obnoxious to me because I am a girl and I lead. Some girls it seems are still suffering from the complex that only men should lead. But I won't go into that because it's a whole different kind of discourse. Personally, I always welcome feedback and I ask for feedback because only by knowing what doesn't work you can learn and improve. However, I do not welcome feedback that is given in a dismissive manner. It would be a good lesson for some followers to try leading at some point. Maybe they wouldn’t be so pretentious afterwards. Followers, you have to realize that in a workshop the job of the leaders is very challenging, because not only do they have to learn a series of moves, but also learn how to lead them. And that may take time, which we don't have lots of in a workshop. So don't get frustrated if your leader is struggling and doesn't nail the move straight away. Give us time and be supportive. If something’s not working, let us know, but do it in such a way that we know that you want us to learn together with you. And also learn how to give positive feedback. In a classroom we are all teachers to one another, but learn to be good teachers and good teachers are not dismissive, or rude, or pretentious, or suffering from superiority complexes. Why don't you learn something from Hasse & Marie?

On Teachers & Teaching

Hasse & Marie (whom I was meeting for the first time) are exemplary teachers! They should be displayed in a museum. The sweetest, friendliest, funniest, kindest, most polite teachers I have met so far. If you want to learn manners, they are the teachers to have. The respect they show to each other they also show to their students. They will never put you down and they are constantly encouraging you. With their positive attitude they draw you in and allow you to participate in a meaningful way. I watched an interview with them from last year's Lindy Shock where they explained their approach on teaching which helped me put to (better) words what I experienced in their class: positive self-conditioning, learning in a positive environment that builds confidence in the students. Engaging the students in the teaching process so that they feel they are contributing. Approaching the students not from a level of expertise but getting down to their level so that they can understand them.

I love what they say about what makes a 'good leader' and a 'good follower'. Marie says that a good leader looks at her, appreciates her and makes things out of what she can do instead of showing what he can do. Hasse says that a good follower dances at his level, engages in a two-way communication and has a positive attitude.
Finally, I appreciate that their class was about going back to the basics. At workshops some times we get overwhelmed by new moves that we try to master, but it's necessary for someone to take us back to base one and help us trim our technique because without it we are lousy dancers, I am afraid. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that Swedes (the "Swedish School") make a point of bringing their students back to the basics, whether that is musicality or connection. Hasse & Marie talked about connection, or rather the lack of too much connection. You can read more about their class in my post Lindy Shock - Class Notes  Their site:

Another favorite teaching couple of mine are Ali & Katja. You can read about my impressions of them in my post Ali & Katja which I wrote after a workshop I had with them in Athens last Spring. It was such a delight having classes with them again. They are very clear when explaining and there isn’t anything redundant in what they say or teach. When they are explaining the technique of a move, you don’t feel that there’s anything left unsaid; they really dissect it. And when you ask them why something’s not working and you try it out with them they always know exactly what it is that's not working and they explain it precisely and clearly. They are friendly, approachable, funny, great teachers, indeed! Their site:

The third favorite teaching couple of mine during this event was Davis & Claudia. They mostly taught tasters (and I took two of those), but I think they should be invited to come back as regular teachers. They were fun and friendly but also very precise at explaining and they didn’t overcrowd their 1-hour class with too much information. There was enough time to practice the moves and for them to give feedback (which was not the case in other tasters) and they were very good at giving feedback! Their site:

Sorry for the low resolution of the photo of Davis & Claudia - it's actually a still from their recap video. I did not want to use any of their official photos from their site because of copyrights. 

On Advancing

The dream of every beginner lindy hopper is to be an advanced lindy hopper. You cannot cheat yourself into the advanced level, however, and it seems to me that there are people that do. I don't know if it's a lack of self-awareness or merely a need to be seen as advanced. Or maybe they think that on the advanced level you learn better stuff (what a misconception!). In any case, assigning yourself to a level where you don't actually belong makes your classmates suffer and does not make you a better dancer. The quantity of the moves you know DOES NOT make you an advanced dancer. It's the quality of your dancing that does. I see some 'advanced' dancers that don't even have a pulse. How can you progress when you have already forgotten this very basic thing we learn in the first lesson of lindy hopping? Go back to the basics people. And be more honest with yourself. It's not a competition! As Bobby White says in his splendid post Swing 101 - Beginning your Swing Dance Education, "you don’t want to try to learn swing dance quickly — you want to learn it well...trying to learn it quickly is the slowest way to actually get good at it." Good advice, if you ask me.
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