Thursday, 3 November 2016

10 Quick Surprising Tips About dancing

 

As a professional dancer i have picked up quite a few little tricks over the years. Usually because i made a whole handful of mistakes and endeavor not to repeat them. Here are 10 quick tips to help dancers whether beginning students, experienced dancers or professionals (probably you have your own).

Build body memory. For each simplified basic movement of the dance or movement activity you wish to improve in. In the end a good teacher can simplify anything you need to understand, but you can't fudge the repetition needed to make a movement become learned.

Increase body awareness. With body awareness its a much quicker process to learn any movement based activity. Without it you can spend years trying to make changes that either will take longer to happen or your body simply won't understand on an intrinsic level.

Find your learning style. Become aware of the ways you learn best e.g. visual, kinesthetic, audio etc. Use the ones you are strongest in while translating to others you are less good in. The translation process makes the learning more profound. For example, i learn visually and kinesthetically but when i first started to teach i had to structure things in a verbal way for my students. Especially with questions but also to relate to the many students who aren't able to learn from a simply visual perspective. I found by making this translation of dance into words i learned a great deal myself too and continue to enjoy this new found learning style.

Give yourself time to find the learning space. Many students arrive at the start time of the class.  Totally understandable with the busyness of most of our lives. But it often results in feeling rushed, not something that promotes learning. With a bit of careful planning you can give yourself 5 minutes to acclimatize before the class starts by arriving a bit earlier. This 5 minutes is great for letting your brain become ready to learn.

Warm up before classes and social dancing. Sometimes it feels silly but warming up the body is really important. The more the activity asks from you, and this is personal, the more you should prepare yourself for it. When you are warm you also most better and more fluidly. The chances of one of those dances you will remember is much higher.

Learning is forgetting. Keep in mind that to learn something and take it in at a deeper level we often need to see it several times. Similar to body memory but for the brain. Let yourself forget things as part of the learning process.

Make sure your clothes don't hold you back. Depending on the type of activity you do, make sure your clothing allows for the movements you want to do as well as keeping you sufficiently covered. There is nothing worse than trying to do something and finding you either can't do it or don't want to as it leaves you exposed.

Take time for your own translation. Particularly for partner dancers but also for students who take a lot of classes. Its useful to take 5 minutes by yourself to put all the things you have learned into your own words and understanding. You can take a step deeper to try and link other things you do as part of your activity into this and check it with a trusted teacher or more experienced dancer. I always invite my students to check ideas with me and also tell them when its possible but not my personal approach or maybe i don't have the answer due to it being outside my expertise or comes down to a choice for the student i can't answer for them. After all i am not a guru but a dancer.

The first time you learn something sticks with you forever, or until you do a lot of hard work to change it. The first time we properly learn something we take it into our memory in a more profound way than the second and third times. Its good to make sure that you understand it correctly this first time and that you are getting quality information. This way you will avoid many bad habits that form due to misinformation. Secondly the amount of work it takes to change this first memory once made.

Ask your teachers why. If your activity is anything like Argentine tango then the question why is a good one. In tango everyone and anyone can teach, with a huge range in abilities to dance and abilities to teach. There are good dancers and terrible teachers, good teachers and terrible dancers and everything in between. The question why tends to cut through the crap. If they can give you a solid and clear reason why, then they probably know what they are talking about. If not then you can think on this. Just be a little aware of the difference between question about a step or subject being taught and questioning the teacher themselves. The second one is unpleasant on the receiving end and feels as though you are being asked for you credentials as a teacher. This is likely to close up most teachers making this a moot point. Active learning is essential to efficient learning and becoming more proficient. Its also rewarding and personally i find it gives a lot of enjoyment.

I hope these were useful. Try them out and if you want more information post a comment below. It would be great if you can spread the word about our new blog using some of the buttons below.We will regularly be posting information about dance, health and a little on Argentine tango.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Crutches... New chapter to the crazy chronicles

Thursday 25th august i manage to step down on a spade hard to dig up the stubborn bamboo plant i wanted to take and plant in my new studio. during the forceful action my flimsy shoe breaks and i end up bringing vulnerable flesh down on sharp spade top.  I can't put my weight on it so i crawl through the garden including all the weeds and things i have cut back to leave the garden nice, calling for my father who has fallen asleep in the big armchair in the living room. Then my ex man returns home and finds me half sitting inside and half outside trying not to make a mess of the house with profusely bleeding foot. we bandage it and he picks me up and takes me to the car where we get the foot checked out at the doctor.

Carried into the emergency room and the doctor smiling at the sight, me sheepishly half laughing half smiling. The doctor examines the foot and gives the news that no tendons are broken which is lucky a htis would mean months of recovery. Simply a few nerves might be damages but these will grow back in time. Also that i need a number of stitches but the anesthetic will probably be as painful as the stitches. So i decide to go for the stitches without anesthetic, my god was it painful but i managed to not move or cry out until the last stitch which was directly on a nerve or sensitive point. the last one really throbs even now.

After the doctors and back to the house, i go with my father to pick up some crutches so at least i am able to be a little independent in the next days. Its amazing here, you walk into a shop and hand over your insurance information. Sign a form and eh voula you have rented crutches.

Thursday after getting back home i tried to go to the supermarket just down the road in good old stubborn Isolde style. It was hard and i managed it, but my god do i have a new found respect for anyone who can't simply go to a shop without some walking aid or wheelchair. As a dancer after day 3 i am itching to walk, dance, run, jump as i am used to. so trying to put sunday to use with the finishing of my book.


Saturday, 23 July 2016

The quality of equality, equalizing or celebrating the individual?



At the moment within Compania Cielito we are working behind the scenes to set up a structure of roles for each individual who is also dancing in the group. This enables us to keep the costs down while giving each individual the possibility to give more to the group process through their own professional and personal abilties. Making the team far stronger than if you rely on one individuals capabiltiies that are always and very naturally limited to a set number of skills and weaknesses.

In one of our meetings a question came up about equality from one of our members, who assumed that equality meant that everyone should have control over all aspects of the teams behind the scenes work. It raises an interesting question about equality in relation to effective team work, individuals taking responsibility and authority in areas of expertise. What is equality? whether in a team like ours, the battle between the sexes in the feminist movement or in a relationship between 2 people. In many ways similar to the situation of a communist regime or the purely capitalist approach seen as two extremes.

My take on it is that there are two basic options:

1. Equality can be taken as the giving of equal power and authority in all aspects, usually decisions are made by group consensus with some individuals pushing an agenda. Equalizing regardless of social standing, income, abilities.

2. Equality through the realization that we are all different, with this having different skills, weaknesses, interests, motivations and formed conceptualization about what the world means to us. Within a team or company the hope is to create a team of people with complimentary skills that also bypass the effect an individuals weakness might have.

These different idea of equality are often the reason for misunderstanding within our group process. I wonder now if the first understanding is more governed by personal wish to control rather than trust others to get things done. A personal element also exists that people want to do things they like to do and this approach to equality makes it seem viable.

I am a big advocate of the second understanding of equality. Over the years in various group processes i have started from the first one as an ideal for the way i am working with people. My experience was that there was a lot of inclarity in situations, individuals pushing for things they want or need at the expense of what we do as a collective and at times at the expense of other individuals in the group. It also means that individuals don't feel seen for what they are able to do and often don't recieve enough authority from the rest of the team to be effective.

SO... now in this process i think its time to get clear that we are aiming for a way of working that celebrates the individuals ability within our team, giving them authority by entrusting them with the responsibility to get it done. Actively following their lead and giving help and support when needed. Less formal structuralization and more clarity of our roles enabling a free flow of supporting each other rather than being bogged down with formality and procedure. There will always be things we want to do from another role, sometimes there will be a space for this and sometimes not. I have the feeling people should earn the things they want, in the sense that often more work is created to achieve what is wanted so the individual needs to show they are serious and willing to but the work in to make it worth while. Realising that its more than a playground wim but that there are actual skills involved that need learning and appreciating before some aspects of the team work can be shared. Next challenge is to define this idea of working. More thought needed...



Friday, 22 July 2016

'Hemeltje' fundraising campaign for the setup costs of a new sustainable space in Utrecht


We have a beautiful studio in Utrecht that is now pretty much full of people renting and making in our space. There is a big need in Utrecht for spaces that are user friendly and affordable. Mostly the two don't come together. Our project is bringing people together, enabling innovative social business through making space available to great people offering inspiring activities and projects across the board of dance through to events.

Now we have found a great location but need help with the start up costs to create a sustainably running space once set up will run into the future. Check out our crowdfunding campaign and help us reach our fundraising aim, be part of an amazing group of people who are making this new space possible. And there is the perk of some lovely gifts along the way.

Funds raised will cover the cost of a beautiful floor, stage area and decoration in the way of lighting and curtains to increase coziness and sound quality. Check it out now at: