Mar. 30th, 2012
Students….sometimes it feels like they snuck in when I wasn’t looking and I’ve just discovered them…like the pockets The Tick never knew he had.
I HAVE STUDENTS!
Classes go more quickly when I have five or seven students where I used to have one.
I now have the mental scaffolding available to change smoothly when something isn’t working or when something works but it takes less time than I’d planned. I didn’t used to have that skill…I used to stumble…or admit that things hadn’t gone as planned, or apologize nervously, and that couldn’t have been a good thing. I know my earliest classes were a mess. I KNOW. That’s being human beyond what students want to see….students want to feel like they are being guided by a teacher who knows what they are doing. They need someone who is flexible but ultimately appears in control of the class.
It doesn’t mean I am a role model of authority… I’m not. I am eccentric but I am authoritatively eccentric. I own it. I do make zombie noises in the final stretches (we do a stretch that, when properly done…make us look a bit like zombies…Khalida, I think it’s on one of your DVDs. Think about if you can guess which one it is). I use my elementary school voice to get them to smile. We’re not even touching on how unique my Japanese is. “Face! Don’t forget! USE!!!”
If you are a reader who knows me well “in person”…I use my arsenal of voices.
They see me in my street clothing after…which last night was described as “Like a crazy fairy. Colors you don’t think should work.” I did inform them that my color choices don’t seem strange…when I am surrounded by elementary school students.
They did sneak up on me. I’ll stick to that story. I think they even snuck up on Hiromi…who came to class yesterday and wondered if one of the new faces was from my Deseos classes and I said “Nope, I don’t know how this one found me or found the studio…but she’s been here for a month.”
When I started teaching Thursday lessons in January 2012, I usually had no one in Basics and two students in Oriental. I had no Zill class at all. Yesterday…BAM…6 students in Basics. Four in Oriental (classes with my choreography and improvisation sections tend to scare people a bit) and some of my basics students stayed and watched, with permission, because one of them will be taking the class next month (new choreography) and it gave us an “audience” for our last day of a choreo and feedback...and then it was back to six for Zills.
And yesterday Hiromi attended classes. She’s willing to translate for me when need be so I had the chance to explain, in more detail, why I drill movement combinations the way I do, like two or more movements with transitions instead of just drilling a single movement so that their body can learn transitions and they won’t get stuck in a move when they improvise and so on…or that I want them, when they enjoy a performance they’ve seen, to think about a specific of what they liked…so they can be inspired by it (which is one thing I am trying to train them in now that I make them give each other positive feedback.)…because part of being in control of the class can be explaining the method of your madness from time to time to show them that you do have structure…no matter how unstructured it might sometimes feel.. In my case, I want them to be able to take components of what/how I teach to build their own home-practice structure and to get the most out of going and seeing other performers.
The thing that I am feeling the most elated by…hands down…is the number of students who have commented that my students “look like they are having fun.”
I’m also pleased that my students seem to be getting along well and are forming friendships with each-other. I see them support each other, cheer each other on, and walk together, talking, to the trains after classes get out. My own peer support group of dancers I’ve learned next to and performed alongside, like Eshe, Anna, Hiromi, Joe, Farasha and more, have been invaluable to me and I hope they find some of that in each other. Seeing that also helps me keep my boundaries. I know how peers can help when the dance is frustrating at times but that my roll is to be their teacher and guide but not “that in-class friend.”
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