Another weekend, another workshop, another disappointment

Another weekend, another workshop, another disappointment. I’m not going to name the workshop because many people (mostly leaders) enjoyed it and what you get out of a workshop has a lot to do with your own goals, experience, preferences and the level you are in.

Perhaps it’s enough to say that this was one of those workshops where (in my track/level) the leads got to try out new techniques, learnt new moves and got instruction from the teaching staff. The follows, well we got to follow (although manhandled might have been a more appropriate description at times) and then we got to follow some more. There was nothing for the follows to work on, no advice about technique other than a quick comment about keeping rotation going at the end of a turn, no correction from the teaching staff (e.g. follower not getting a move, leader tries it on teacher, teacher can follow it, teacher moves quickly on), no styling tips…

I tried to be positive, watched the teacher’s technique and styling and tried to emulate, embraced the opportunity to focus on following and meeting new people and so on but this was an expensive workshop, I learnt very little, I have a sore back and bruise on my side from some rather forceful leading, I spent my weekend in an overcrowded room worrying about/being rammed into someone else rather than following what my leader was doing and I danced with the people I always dance with due to uninspiring music and very long band songs (ok, this one is my fault).

I had high really high hopes. I am really disappointed. I feel like I have just wasted an awful lot of money.

Right, think that’s out of my system. Time to move on!

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18 responses to “Another weekend, another workshop, another disappointment”

  1. Follow says :

    Thanks for saying it “how it was”.
    People need to speak up.
    Understand how you feel.
    I think all workshops and classes should state what the intended content will be. Which is only ‘fair’.
    We are paying money each week for something, but don’t know what we’re going to get, as well as the time to travel there and back.
    That’s like saying: “drive over”,
    “put some money in my hand”,
    “and THEN I will tell you what you’ll get for that money”,
    “BUT it may be nothing”
    “now drive home”.
    Is that fair? Really?

    • sleepingglitter says :

      I like your analogy! You are right, for most workshops you really have no idea what you are going to get and the bigger the event the more likely it is that you will get the teacher’s stock class that you’ve already done a number of times at other workshops.

      I know you can be glass half full or half empty about these sorts of things but the more I am paying for an event the more I want out of it. I’m finding it harder to justify the cost of big events as learning experiences. I think I’m going to have to improve my leading and register as a lead… although a couple of local events have stopped female leaders taking classes recently.

      • skye says :

        wait, why are female leaders being turned away from classes??

      • sleepingglitter says :

        I think this deserves it’s own post but apparently it’s for business reasons. Same reason men are asked not to follow in some classes even when there are too many leaders.

        There are a number of local dancers who dislike dancing with someone of the same sex, they vote with their feet and won’t show up if there are same sex leads. As most workshops in this neck of the woods are run as business ventures it doesn’t make sense for the person running the workshop to take alienate their audience, or so I am told.

        On the whole most local dancers have female leaders/male followers welcome them and even run sessions especially for female leaders. It only an issue at workshops.

      • dogpossum says :

        This is some fucked up shit. Here’s what I think: you open your workshops to leads and follows of all genders, and then you can be _sure_ you won’t get those homophobe arsehats who don’t like to touch people of the same sex coming to your class. BECAUSE WE DON’T ACTUALLY WANT THOSE IDIOTS IN OUR COMMUNITY!

        This story MAKES ME SO ANGRY. I AM SO ANGRY RIGHT NOW.

        If I was there, by god I’d give those dickheads the scariest quiet-voice telling-off they’d EVER had.

  2. Amy says :

    Hi there,
    I totally feel your pain, I feel like I’m in the same mind set as you, I’m at intermediate level but can’t seem to improve massively. I see people at my club developing lovely swivels and little flourishes and I still lack the confidence to even give them a go. They still don’t ‘click’, and I’ll feel like a pleb giving it a go. I’ve seen some online lessons that I’m tempted to pay for, but I still haven’t given it enough time or thought.

  3. Rebecca Brightly says :

    Kudos to you for trying to stay positive. I’m sure I’d have expressed my irritation more than you.

    The experience you’re describing is one of my major pet peeves with workshops. I’m not a second class citizen. The follower plays an equal role in creating the dance, and it’s time teachers figured out how to teach this.

    • sleepingglitter says :

      I’m British, stiff upper lip and all that 🙂

      Quick reply, I have been to workshops (sure you have too) where teaching followers has been done well but it does require teachers to move away from teaching 3 or 4 moves strung together in a pattern.

      One excellent example was a (Balboa) class where leads and follows needed to work together to find out how to get the follower to turn on the spot and how to get them to travel and turn. Then we experimented with leading more/less rotation, then with followers following the momentum given/changing their response to the momentum given and so on. Really good class in which both leaders and followers got to learn something that we could use with any partner when we went home.

      Been to a couple of lindy classes where the focus has been on turns. A good example was the teacher watching everyone in turn follow a triple turn and tell us individually whether we were slowing down or not (big class but it was done during one practice song). Another good example was getting followers to do a double spin along a line and then getting leaders/followers to evaluate how closely they managed it.

      My pet peeve as a follower is that I never get to experiment. As a lead I can try something big and then try it small to work out how best to lead something. As a follower you can’t really do that in a typical class situation because you need the same leader to lead the same thing 3 or 4 times. Followers are often told to commit 100% but how can you do that with no frame of reference or without understanding the impact 75% commitment to a move has? Why not allow us to try doing the move 75% effort and then try backleading the move so we can experience the difference ourselves?

      Actually another pet peeve is the concept that you can spend 20 minutes being repeatedly lead through a move and not end up helping/doing the move for yourself. Perhaps I am alone in this but there comes a point where my body is doing stuff for me. If you’re expecting me to actually follow rather than just being a mobile mannequin I need a bit of variety and surprise.

      • LadyD says :

        I have a random idea. What if you had leads taught in one room and follows in the other but they meet up at end of lesson and dance through what they learned. That way its a surprise for both of them. :innocent angelic face:
        Aaaanyway….I’ll go get me coat.

  4. Ced says :

    @all, I can tell you I’m happy that it’s not an issue for us, leads. I feel for you. It really looks like the only way an intermediate follower can make serious progress is with private classes… till a point.

    @amy, that’s all on you. You need to get over it and use what you learned on the dance floor until it clicks. I don’t see how the “clicking” would happen otherwise. That’s the same for everyone.

  5. Brody says :

    I can name some names. I just went to a Steven & Virginie workshop where there was a ton of stuff for followers. I don’t think Virginie would let a workshop go by without a lot of attention to followers.
    If you have an opportunity to take workshops from S & V, you don’t have to wonder — you’ll definitely get a lot to work on.

  6. Craig says :

    @Follow, an uninspired workshop is not exclusive to follows, leads have experienced the same disappointments. In addition to expressing your frustration on your blog, you have every right to tell the organizers of the workshop too. Your participation is funding their events. Unhappy dancer(s) can bring about change to future events. That said, not all workshops are created equal as you probably know already so it is good to make note of instructors who are not just good dancers but very good instructors and communicators.

    Here’s a suggestion to help your continue to make progress with your dancing. Since you are at an intermediate level I would assume you have many leads that you have danced with and have good connection with. From time to time I have asked a well acquainted follow and ask them what they would like to do or work on. Perhaps from a previous workshop or something they have seen on video or in person. We mix it into the dance and both benefit from the experience. It’s like a mini workshop. If it’s a new lead move, I can test it with different follows to see if I have prepped the move to communicate with the lead.

    In as much as it is important for a follow to listen to the lead, the music etc., it is also important for the lead to listen to his partner. When they do some great things can result. Keep your chin up and try your best to enjoy the whole learning process. Find what works for you.

    Cheers!

  7. Sarah says :

    Ugh, I hate that stuff! With only a few exceptions, dance classes just stop being useful for follows at a certain point. And it doesn’t need to be that way!

    There are clear and concrete strategies for following. It’s not magic. And I would expect teachers to include as much follow content as lead content. OF COURSE.

    I don’t always just suffer and bear it. If the instructors aren’t paying attention to follows, I have asked concrete questions or requested elaboration on strategies. It doesn’t always work, but at least it’s something.

    And when the weekend is over, I’m sure to offer my constructive feedback, solicited or not.

    (And it’s total insanity bs that female leads or male follows are being turned away in any situation. We live in the modern times, okay.)

  8. LadyD says :

    I’ve not been to a lindy hop dance workshop before. I’ve been to instrument playing ones and one clog dance one. So its interesting to read what its like. And to see whatever the workshop is on there are common themes to them all. With my other hobbies I’ve been ‘self taught’ and relied on workshops to sand down metaphorical rough edges etc. Actually taking regular lessons is a novel experience for me.

  9. Depressed Dancer says :

    Oh yes, I’ve been there. Frustrating, uninspiring, and leaves you feeling like a dance mannequin there for the amusement of others.

    I have a really awesome teacher at one of my classes, who when leads weren’t ‘getting it’ asked us to switch roles. We both got a challenge, and it’s amazing how much both parties improve when they’ve been on the giving *and* receiving end of a shove, sorry, ‘move’!

  10. SummerSolsticeGirl says :

    What kind of teacher/instructor tries the recently learned move with the lead, sees that he can lead it properly and moves on without offering anything to the follow? That’s just rude. Not to mention a total lack of teaching skills

  11. dogpossum says :

    Teachers who can’t give feedback or comment on what follows are doing don’t really understand how following works. Following, it’s a mystery. It’s like that red matter in the Star Trek reboot or the midichlorians in Star Wars HOW EVEN DO THEY WORK? WHAT EVEN ARE THEY?

    FOLLOWING IT IS MAGIC AND HOW EVEN IS IT REAL??!!

    This part also makes me angry. FFS, dance teachers, get your shit together.

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