Another great and frequently asked question came in today:
“As a dance student, how should I deal with different instructors teaching conflicting swing dance styles/techniques?”
This is a great question and something that everyone is faced with eventually after they move on from learning from a single instructor.
I feel strongly that ultimately, everyone should learn everything. Every approach, every philosophy, every technique and detail will help you to become the best dancer you can be. Keeping an open mind and trying different things will help you to decide what resonates with you and what you might find interesting but don’t want to incorporate into your day to day dancing.
Learning is a Skill
Learning itself is a skill. It takes time to hone and refine that skill. The more classes that you take, the easier it will become to pick up on new technique and interpretations from a variety of teachers.
A truly advanced dancers should be adaptable. It’s hard at first, but with experience this becomes one of the great joys of studying with a variety of teachers. Every instructor has a slightly different take on things and it’s fascinating to get in to the nitty gritty of their Lindy Hop technique and vision. When I’m in a Dean Collins style, I adapt and use that technique. When I’m in Steven and Virginie’s classes, I adjust again and take on their approach to the dance. If the instructors are Swedish, I shift my thinking and my body again. And then there are all of those wonderful shades of grey in between.
Adaptability grows easier with Experience
>Don’t get me wrong. At first it can be really hard to both identify the differences and then also shift the body in to doing what the mind has understood. This is what truly advances someone’s dancing and body awareness. I would say that this is even more important for followers since a good follower really doesn’t have the option to choose the technique on the dance floor. Followers add in their own style, but the technique choice comes from the leader and we match and respond to what they give us.
Like life, dancing is a Maturing Process
Learn all of it and try to master all of the different approaches before you throw something away. My dancing did a complete 180 in around 2003. And though my dancing is completely different than it was in my earlier years of dancing, I would not be the dancer that I am today if I hadn’t gone through that learning process. It helped me to get to know my body and now I’m able to pick and choose how I want to follow a wide spectrum of leaders and styles.
Over the years, I’ve come to really enjoy nerding out on all of the philosophies and subtle differences that are out there. That nerdy conceptualization isn’t for everyone, but if you can embrace those details it’s a lot of fun and it can make every learning experience really insightful.
Director, Head Dance Instructor
Bees’ Knees Dance – Anyone Can Dance™
One of our Advanced students and Worker Bees has some great words that I’d like to add on this subject: