Thursday, 4 July 2013

Some background in teaching dance as joining in relationship

I almost never teach a dance without there being a sense of the music and therefore rhythm - and nearly always sing as well as demonstrate the dance - in slow motion if helpful. And the rhythm is present throughout the learning - as is a sense of sharing rather than learning in isolation. (Though of course the dancer is free to learn in isolation if they insist!).
(If I could not sing I would at least play a bit of the music first - and call attention to the rhythm if helpful). As a singer, I can not only sing - but can sing without embarrassment or self consciousness. Not that I make a fool of myself - but that I am indifferent to such in the willingness to share - and if I sometimes do - then it is of no moment because it is not about me.
I minimize the aspect of the mind that associates learning with school (at least as school was for me) and maximize the joy, relational trust and relaxed faith in everyone's willingness and ability to join the dance. I will reinforce with verbal mental instructions or mappings - but that isn't the primary mode of teaching or communicating.
If I have dancers with less ability, I may offer cheats or workarounds or simply pointers such as keeping their steps smaller as well as inviting them to tread water 'in the manner of' with kindness to neighbours and remaining with the music and the circle - until they see where to get back on again. This is so much better than chasing after the lost moment for all concerned!
There could be pages of things I might say of offer to such dancers - but would generally be as felt appropriate to their demonstration. I tune into when or whether to directly help as making them self conscious is not help! But I also don't overteach as if we all have to be perfect before we can meet the dance and I raise the bar at least such as to induce some aspiration and some willingness to join in work and play (and rest).

I have a 'workshop' mode that tends to focus on a few dances in more depth, a 'celebratory' mode that focuses on the shared energetic - including very slow or intimate dances - and mostly these days am 'at Home in the dance' not only literally - but actually.
Being at home in something is to be at rest - even in its dynamic - and even through apparent chaotic aspects. I feel this is a mastery - not of cultures or forms - of which one could never perfectly complete an education - but of oneness with. Like we master walking when we no longer have to manually 'do it'. Walking is just part of our expression of ability. We can then use walking without it being a big deal.
This quality of fluency or at-home-ness can extend and invite because it is not trying to become something or validate itself. I notice that the focus can be held clearly in the heart yet in an informality. Our willingness is the measure of our sharing and as the teacher/host I am willing to set the intention and invite joining through example - so I extend that willingness in ways that feel appropriate or receivable - according also to my current level of trust. The more trust is extended the more perspective we share in which to bring more willingness...
But there is a current level of trust in oneself and in each instance of every group that is the guide - because if one attempts to push the river - disconnectedness and struggle replace guidance with self protective blocks and one is obliged to release it and be restored to serving rather than controlling!
In a willingness to serve the dance we can ask of the dancers - and receive freely, what could not be accessed with targets and incentives!


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