As glamorous and rewarding as it looks, teaching a dance class is a tough job. You have to make sure that each student is understanding the movement, learning something new, and challenging themselves.Inevitably, there are things that make this hard job even harder. These habits of students quickly become choreographers' pet peeves. If you are a choreographer who totes gets these struggles, share and spread the word! And if you're an avid class-taker, avoid or practice these things to make the class experience better for everyone.
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It can feel awkward when the choreographer asks a question (i.e. "Should we try music?" "Can I move on?") and they are met with
"..................*cricket* ..... /gust of wind/ ...... ::blank stares::......."
Class is an interaction, you guys!!
It's a conversation between the instructor and the students. It's an exchange of energy.
And if all the students are there to just get lectured at without providing any feedback, it can make the instructor feel lost and unable to help.
The only way both parties can benefit optimally, is if they communicate.
When you are given a chance to vibe back, just give a simple "Yeah!" or "One more time!" or even a nod / eye contact, if you're too shy for words.
STUDENTS! The next time the choreographer asks a question, ANSWER!
Annnnnnddd then there are the students who are VERY outspoken. TOO outspoken.
Outspoken in ways that do NOT contribute to the class.
Coming in late and noisy, trying to get away with not paying, talking over the choreographer, doing alternate choreo or random things at inappropriate times, eating during class?? (r u srs), laughing HELLA LOUD with your friends in a corner...
If you're just plain rowdy and distracting, you are undermining:
STUDENTS! As fun at is it is, class should be taken seriously.
Isn't it rude to sit in a lecture hall and snore over a professor?
Well, in the same way, it's the choreographer's JOB to make sure you learn something.
And you're there because you want to be, right? So cooperate and get the most out of it!
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A lot of us like to document our growth by recording our performance in class. And we like to share that content, most commonly through a clip on Instagram.
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A lot of choreographers actually appreciate this! It's a gesture of support and affirmation. Sort of like "Hey, your piece was dope enough that I looked dope enough doing it that I kind of want to show off to my followers." It feels like they're bragging for both of you.
Or sometimes, friends post clips of each others' classes as an act of support. Like how you would put your boyfriend on blast as your #MCM, it's putting your friend on blast by saying "THIS IS MY FRIEND'S WORK, LOOKIE ME DOING IT, THEY'RE SO GOOD AT MAKING STUFF AND I'M SO GOOD AT DOING STUFF."
BUT. IT'S NOT OKAY TO DO IT WITHOUT FIRST ASKING IF IT'S OKAY.
And it's absolutely UNACCEPTABLE to do it when the choreographer, at any point in the class, ASKS YOU NOT TO distribute their work.
They could be using it for their team's set. They could be planning to make a video later on. OR, ORRRR- ***CRAZY IDEA*** THEY COULD JUST WANT YOU TO LIVE IN THE CLASS AND PRESERVE THE SANCTITY OF THAT EXPERIENCE, LIKE WE USED TO IN THE GOOD OL' DAYS BEFORE THE RAMPANT AND OBSESSIVE SHARING OF EVERYTHING EVER.
Whatever the reason, if they say not to share it- DON'T SHARE IT!
YouTube, Instagram, even a temporary SNAPCHAT is pretty frickin' rude if they made it clear that the piece was for that class to, and that class only.
STUDENTS! Sharing is caring... but don't think that just because you learned it, it's yours to share. It's not. Work always belongs to the artist. Be careful not to plagiarize or overstep.
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With that said...
As mentioned, communication is so important when getting the most out of class.
If you have a specific area you're struggling with, ASK!
If it's something that can be answered simply by watching the choreographer (i.e., right foot or left foot?), just WATCH THEM.
And the worst thing you could do is keep asking the people around you. A quick, "Hey is it like this?" "Was that on the snare?" = totes fine. But some people CONTINUALLY ask other class takers for clarification.. when you should be asking or watching the choreographer instead.
If you think you're being a nuisance by asking the choreographer a question, you're being a bigger nuisance to the fellow dancer AND the butthurt choreographer who saw you ask someone else.
STUDENTS! Ask. When necessary and appropriate. Teachers mean it when they say "If you have any questions, ask!"
The vibe of the class is so important to me. The choreographer and students should always have a positive, growth-oriented mindset.
And the energy is not dependent on the "feel" of the piece. It could be a totally depressing song, but the energy of the class could be positively dedicated to learning and growing.
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It shows as soon as you enter the studio. When dancers are open to meeting other dancers, introducing themselves and happy to see familiar faces.
And it shows when you start learning and everyone is excited to dance.
It shows when the choreographer asks a question, and people actually respond with enthusiasm.
It shows when you do groups and you hear cheering for other dancers.
It shows when you go up to dance and feel the support around you.
And it shows the most when you reflect on the class, and remember how FUN it was.
Beyond "select groups," despite struggling or messing up, aside from how dope the piece was. It just.. FELT GOOD.
The energy of you, the choreographer, and the people around you, really make the class what it is.
STUDENTS! The choreographer wants you to have a good experience, period. So vibe with them! Energy is infectious, whether it's good or bad. So always make it good. Spread the love. Stay hip hop, etc. etc.
A lot of pieces have "moments" where the choreographer encourages you to "make it your own." Or the last 8 count to freestyle.
In some classes, the choreographer explicitly tells you that they are only teaching the outline of the moves and to fill it in yourself.
In other classes, the choreographer gives personal insight as to their emotional connection with the piece, ("This song is about fear / This is how I felt when I lost someone / This is uplifting and just makes me wanna let loose.") and they want you to make your own connection to it.
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Personally, I take this as a challenge. To groove it the way I feel the music, to add a little bit of my own flavor. Or to perform a relatable piece as therapy. We all interpret music differently, we all have different backgrounds and experiences. We all dance differently.
As "clean" as you could be, it's so refreshing (to the choreographer and other class-takers) to see you dancing like you. One time, I almost cried while watching one of my friends perform a piece because I know how much the song hit home for her. And even others who had no idea what it meant to her specifically, felt that energy. That's what dance is about. Raw expression.
STUDENTS! Embrace the freedom to be yourself when performing. Getting the moves is cool, but you're there to dance, right?
Not everyone is going to kill your piece, BUT everyone has the chance to try to.
No matter how much someone is struggling to "get" the choreography, seeing their determination to keep trying tells the choreographer that they are doing their job to both challenge and encourage their students.
Because teaching moves is only one part what the choreographer is trying to do.
Another big part of their job is to take you to a mental place where you feel like it's possible and worth it to keep going.
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STUDENTS! It's so easy to get discouraged. But it's also so disheartening for both you and the choreographer to see you give up, or settle. It's called "CLASS," not "BE PERFECT TIME"
So be learning! Be uncomfortable! Be growing! Always, always, always keep trying.
Are you a choreographer with your own annoyances and preferences? Or do you agree with any of our points above? Leave a comment below to share with us! There's nothing you can do in a STEEZY Studio class to annoy the choreographer, though. Sign up and start training for free!
This article was originally published on April 5, 2015.