Problem Children

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I didn’t talk about last Thursday’s group class but it has been on my mind.  It is the recurring problem at our studio with only two group classes.  So those who are in the Bronze program either go back to basics or end up in the advanced class over their heads.  Actually, they always end up in the advanced class because OwnerGuy and the other instructors push them into it.

Thursday was a big group by our standards with one guy who was taking his first “advanced” level group and several others who were still early in their Bronze Age.  The dance was Rumba and Kid T picked a forward spot turn followed by a back spot turn.  I’ll say this for Kid T, she is determined that nobody is going to be left behind in her group class.

Which is a very good thing to do but it creates problems for those of us on the other end of the spectrum.  Because she brings the class along very slowly – there was a cross body lead to set up the forward spot turn and we spent a large amount of time on that because there were some who were really struggling.  The rotation got all out of whack because she was spending extra time with those who were having trouble and forgetting to keep the class moving.  Again, she was determined that everyone was going to execute this cross body lead before we moved into the spot turns (which are much more difficult)

I was at the far end of the group class with another couple and some of the other more advanced dancers.  Sorry, but there is only so long you can fake interest in a cross body lead so we started talking to ourselves and really not hiding our boredom with the class.  At one point, one of the ladies compares us to those kids who get bored with the material and start acting up.  Maybe we never really outgrow elementary school??

What has bothered me since then is that we weren’t leaving a good impression on those newer students.  At one point, we were all the struggling students being asked to do something in group class that was a little beyond our skill level and feeling completely lost.  Back then, would I have enjoyed seeing the more advanced dancers yucking it up at the other end of the class?  No, I wouldn’t have.

It kind of dovetails with something else that came up the other day.  The studio is trying something new next week and having a newcomers party.  They are going to divide the floor and hang a curtain so the newcomers can just dance without having any of us looking at them.  I made an offhand remark to another guy that I didn’t think we were that intimidating and then he said that, yeah, we were when he first started.

Now, I didn’t totally screw around for the entire group class.  It was a big class and Kid T has her hands full with some of the really new students.  At one point, I noticed one of the newer guys and what I saw was that he was pushing the girl away on his side step and then when he took his back rock (which is where you were supposed to be separating), it was getting all messed up.  So I jumped in and told him to finish the side together and keep the lady with him and then go into the back rock and it worked a little better for him.

Would that have been a better use of my time during the entire class??  Maybe.  But I am a little conflicted by that.  Back in the day, I used to give unsolicited advice a lot.  Then, I started to wonder if that was making me appear like some kind of self appointed expert and dance snob.  After all, I’m not a paid dance professional so who am I to offer my two cents?

If someone asks a specific question, and I have an answer, I’ll tell them what I know.  If someone (usually a lady) asks a more generic question like “did I do that right”, I’ll normally just tell them what they want to hear which is that it was fine.  Again, I’m not an instructor and I don’t know if they want real feedback.  But is it the right thing to do to jump in and proactively offer a tip if you see someone struggling and you can fix it?

At the end of the day, I don’t think it was a productive use of my time.  We did have some fun at our end of the studio – don’t get me wrong.  But did we really do the right thing for the rest of the group?  Is that newer guy going to skip group classes from now on in part because we were acting kind of arrogant since we knew the step?  That would not be a good thing.

The reality is that the situation at the studio is not going to change anytime soon.  So what to do?  Is it using my powers for good to offer tips when you see someone struggling?  Or does that just make me come off like an arrogant dance know it all?  Suppose it depends on the person and the delivery of the message.

Boy, who knew one group class to lead to so much?



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