steph teachingWhat kind of learning style do you have? Know this and become a better dancer!

Little background story:
I always wondered why in dance studios, instructors always catered to a certain kind of learner ie ‘just do as i say, follow my instructions, (and too bad if u don’t get it’).
Kinda discouraging!

I realized i needed both technique, and repetition to the music, to ‘get it’ quickly.
Then i studied pedagogy-the art of teaching- and found there are 3 different types of ways to learn:
I added a 4th which is musical (it’s under auditory but very different than processing comprehension).

As a teacher, i can help learners learn more effectively by understanding what they respond to. As a teacher specifically in dance, I loosely categorize a student into percentages of THINKERS AND FEELERS. In Toronto i’ve found thinkers are dominant (like in Japan…whereas Rio, or New York they are more feelers!), which is good to know, depending on your environment, and culture.

So how much of each are YOU? It’s a spectrum, and it’s rare to be 100% of just one.
Let’s explore:

Characteristics of the THINKER in dance: (mind tells body what to do)

*is mostly visual and auditory more than kinesthetic.
*must process information before or instead of feeling it, sensing it, ie needs to it to make sense.
*likes counting and sometimes cannot stop !
*may not match moves to the beat if an extreme thinker…or will be mechanical and not be able to emote. a thinker wont accent or punctuate as this takes feeling, unless they learn how to do it.
* loves detail (what happens on count 6?), so is very micro oriented.
*repeats the same order of sequences (followers can figure ‘him’ out very easily). relies on default instead of improvising and creating new things. however, if they put the moves in their ‘lab’ they can still be creative like an engineer and mechanically invent interesting 3d variations. this is the other extreme of the thinker, getting closer to the feeler.
*doesnt connect to the partner as well as a feeler. may not understand HOW to do that.
*has little contrast or ‘drama’ in the dancing expression. emoting, expressing are barely present.
*loves learning new moves and stacking them together.
*loves private lessons
*is thinking a lot therefore dance face is quite neutral, or wide-eyed. Less smiling, less communicative through the body.

Are you more a FEELER THO? (body runs on its own, mind tends to blank out)

* No, women are not more feelers and men thinkers. Not in Toronto in any case.
*tend to be kinesthetic and visual, and/or have the music/auditory dominant thing going on. Verbal comprehension is low. (that’s me~!)
* As soon as the teacher gives a metaphor, their imagination is off and running.

*macro oriented, whole picture, let’s do the whole move, not part by part. (they get distracted, unfocused and antsy to just dance).
*Can we repeat this over and over while you do it? Feelers love repetition and can imitate the teacher very well, but as soon as they stop, the student can’t repeat what was just done, coz they are in the moment and can’t think about the pattern. However on the dance floor the move may just pop out coz of muscle memory, or they will need a trigger to bring on the whole move (and use their thinking).
*Will react strongly to partner’s energy and music. They may get goosebumps for ex, or want to cry from the song being so beautiful.
*Reacts strongly to the minor key in music, dissonance, off key notes, and ‘drama’ in the sound. They are profoundly affected by music.
* ” I just need to have a good leader” -These students may get away with that temporarily, but their lack of technique will soon limit their dance partner options and will tend to backlead as followers.Leaders love experimenting, fusing or accenting a lot. They really really connect with their partners. Some followers or receivers might find it overbearing or misinterpret their emotion for ….something else!

*Can imitate very well, so teachers think they ‘got it’ when they dont at all! This is because they can empathize well as feelers and are ‘in their body’. They must use their mind to tell the body what IT wants it to do.
*Feelers tend to be lyrical dancers, not on beat dancers.

I’d say im a 70% feeler and 30% thinker as a student,
but a 50% feeler and a 50% thinker as a teacher of dance. In Toronto, i’ve had to explain a lot more technique in detail and teach more musicality so students understand HOW to feel more. Sometimes this means letting go of control and letting a student do what they need to do. (sometimes he he).

You can definitely change your percentages over time to balance mind and body connection.
Think more, compute more and improve vastly. Feel more, enjoy more, improv more and get more thrills!
Once you take control of your learning, you can ask your instructor specific questions, like ‘i cant learn without music playing…can u try to play more in class?’ or ‘ if you see me trying other moves while you are talking, please dont tell me to stop because i need to figure things out on my  own at my own pace.’ Or, teacher, can you come here when u have a moment-im stuck on count 3 and need more explanation’.

Hope you recognize yourself in these traits! And i hope teachers can also recognize how to target both kinds of learners to make them feel uplifted, encouraged and proud of their learning!

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