Who is CLASS for?
Who is class for?
Is it the teacher or the student? Mutually beneficial?
I was in New York a few years ago on a trip to re-inspire myself. I was burnt out and contemplating my future in dance. To be brutally honest I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to continue dancing at all.
I always seem to go back to New York to check in with my artistic self. I figure you may as well head to one of the world’s most artistically thriving cities to see if your creative pulse still beats. On my list was everything you’d expect. Take class, see shows…shop.
So I jumped head first into class. Best cure for jet lag. Class structure is pretty universal so it’s a great comfort to know that what we do here in Oz is on par. Generally I’m finding there is less across-the-floor and more of a focus on choreography, especially from the younger generation of teachers. But depending on the style of dance, the warm up across the floor THEN combo structure is still thriving. And they do love a long combo in the states!
I took great classes from some great teachers who are serving their students in every way, thus serving themselves. I remembered what it felt like to be a student, learn, be challenged and to dance with no agenda.
So far so good.
And then I took a highly prominent Broadway Dance Captain’s class. He was young, fit and had an amazing resume.
Music choice for warm up, excellent. Structure of warm up, good and difficult. His presence in the class...awful. I know we are at a cross generation in dance where the old school dance teacher who throws chairs at you is being phased out, but I honestly thought we were past yelling at people.
The class got yelled at during tendu’s.
PULL UP! NO PULL UP! STRAIGHT LEGS! STRAIGHT LEGS! I SAID POINT YOUR FEEEEETTTTT!!!!
So after we stretched and got ready for across the floor, I grabbed my bag, moved across the floor and exited stage right.
Then I went to Starbucks and got a peppermint tea.
Now before you jump on me about learning something from every class you take, hear me out. The time of yelling at people to get the best out of them is over. In an open professional class this is not okay. Actually, it’s never okay.
Inspire, challenge, be stern and nurture but don’t intentionally make people feel inferior.
Class is about the people who are in it, not showcasing the ego of the person teaching it. Some wonderful dancers are terrible teachers.
Suffice to say I didn’t go back to that class. I did however get the dose of creative life I needed. And some new shoes.
I also vowed to never teach a class like that.
So take all the classes that come your way. That’s our job as dancers. But remember you’re the one who's paying for them so spend your money wisely.
Amy - xx-