Dance Technique Notes
Over the years I have written many sets of notes for me to use when teaching Dance Technique, either as a separate workshop or as part of a Dance workshop. Some are on a specific topic, such as “Waltz Step”; some are more general; some are just a set of dances with suggestions on how to dance them better. I've been through and amplified the notes on occasions, so they may contain more information than I would actually give out at a teaching session.
Please bear in mind that these notes are not intended as a printed training manual; they were written to be spoken out loud. You will also find some repetition here, which is no bad thing; people don't usually take something in the first few times they hear it. And if you don't realise that some of the content is meant to be funny, you may well be at a disadvantage!
Let me also make it clear that other people may disagree with some of the points I make, and I'm certainly not saying that I'm right and they're wrong — English Folk Dancing isn't like that. Also most of these notes were written for events in England; if you dance in another country you may well see things differently. I just thought that since I'd done all the work I might as well make it available to the world! If you're new to teaching dance technique you may find it a good starting point for making your own notes. If you've been doing it for years you will undoubtedly disagree with some of my points, but I hope you will find plenty to agree with and maybe some points you'd never thought about.
I've been asked when I teach Dance Technique. I suppose there are three occasions.
- In a workshop. The good thing here is that the people coming to the workshop will expect to be taught and will be receptive to it. The bad thing is that the people who really need it won't be there!
- At the start of an evening dance or club night. I think this is more common in the States than in England. You can tell the inexperienced dancers to arrive early, and run a short session aimed at them. The problem here is that some of them won't be on time, and the “experienced” dancers who would also benefit wouldn't dream of coming to a beginners' session — the same problem as with a workshop.
- During the dancing. Now that I've laid the three possibilities out, it seems obvious to me that this is your best chance — provided you don't overdo it. Larry Jennings says it's OK to teach at a dance provided each segment takes only a few seconds. I think I'd aim for a bit longer than that — he's thinking of contra-dancers who are notoriously resistant to any kind of teaching. But it all comes down to the way you do it — if you're interesting and entertaining you'll find you can teach far longer without any complaints.
Teaching English Country Dance to Beginners, archived here
The English Country Dance Mailing List web page (see the old version HERE) from which you can search the archives for a particular topic (for instance all message titles containing the word “technique”) or join the list, most of whom know what they're talking about when it comes to English Country Dance.
On Friday, March 2, 2007, Phillip Alexander from Northampton wrote:
I found your site more by accident than design while looking for a sight showing dancer moving etc. I have started to do a bit of calling mainly to records using the figures theron but have now started to do a bit of patter, which I find difficult, whether I crack it I don't know but I'll keep at it while I have the Callers (& Dancers) support and encouragement.
I found your site had some good advice and will read more of it when I have a bit more time. I have downloaded some bits. Many thanks