Stephanie of ‘GOdanz’ teaching kizomba in Toronto
Do you get frustrated learning in group dance classes? Feel slow, ‘dumb’, uncoordinated, and want to hide under a rock when you can’t ‘get’ the step?
It’s possible it’s the TEACHER, not YOU! Maybe you don’t know what kind of learner you are, so here are ways to help the teacher help you!
Ask the dance instructor to
1) Count the steps to get a relativity scale, and to understand rhythm like 1 2 3 AND four.
2) Use ‘left , right’ so you know which foot to use , when.
3) Use ‘quick quick slow’ . It helps to understand the rhythm without using counts.
4) Use ‘Africanese ‘ . Ex: ba ba, ba ba baa…to help understand rhythm AND accentuation.
5) Have you dance more to music, to feel more than think.
6) Repeat in drills with or without music to get the movement in your body.
7) Show the move for the visual people, in real time, not broken down coz they want the ‘whole picture’, sometimes in relation to the music too.
8) Explain the motion, ie ‘step step block and push’, to say what it is, for the visual and cerebral people.
Get the courage to take charge of your learning, and stay positive! Keep practicing and actually go OUT social dancing right away. No one is perfect before going out, you use the clubs and socials to IMPROVE! And since you meet almost the same people over and over again, you start really getting to understand them and dance better with them each time.
Happy learning! Learning (and sunshine, oh and food and music) get me up in the morning and excited about life! Yesssssss!
Ps. For kizomba classes and popular Sunday Kizomba and Salsa Socials see our schedule on GoDanz.com.
Check out my Vervy Vibrancy blogs too about Lifestyle and how to stay energized daily!
Via FB or (VervyVibrancy.com coming end of October 2016).
Today I’m giving a tip about how to work on your POSTURE even during the day, when not actually dancing. Posture immediately fixes lead/follow, balance, weight transfer, muscle tension/release, minimize stress on the body, dance for longer, sweat less, look smoother, more in control and feel super confident (and look pretty snazzy, even if you don’t know a lot yet!).
**** Trained dancers**** learn how to separate their body into 3 parts, essentially: The torso extends and lifts and stops at the shoulders which press down. Meanwhile, the pelvis/legs/feet press downwards. This way you can leverage your top part with the bottom part. Your top can push off your hips or knees or feet!
Legs= base of a cupboard
Body= lifts up, standing tall
Shoulders= The heavy’cap’ that presses down so the cupboard doesnt rattle or fall over!
Pay close attention now! Learn this and change everything about your dancing!!!
Amateurs either pull everything down, in a collapsed version (so heavy), or pull everything up and feel like they’re walking on TOP of the floor instead of DOWN n THROUGH the floor (no balance, not anchored, too wobbly!).
From your belt line down to your feet, the energy or weight is going downwards to the floor. You can prompt yourself by thinking/feeling sand in your legs, tailbone down, relax your glutes. Then feel the balls of your feet pressing constantly into the floor and imagine the floor coming up to them, giving you a sensation of full support. You can pretend you are 2 inches under the floor moving horizontally , almost skating.or gliding as you move. Your weight should be either across the ball of your foot, or a little more towards the ball and less towards your pinky toe. If you slightly turn your toes out too, your balance will be way better!
From the top of your pelvis or pubic bone, stretch upwards. (People usually say belly button, but dont forget about that piece just under it, especially coz that’s where most of the abs u use are located.) The more lifted you are, the more you can isolate and move up into your ribcage=more range of motion, more body isolation.
OK!!! So during the day, to practice, keep this image of your torso extending, shoulders down, and the bottom half pressing down and off the ground. Feel that floor: Ground!
When sitting in a chair, press your feet down and press ur tailbone down into ur chair, while straighening your spine….and push down with your shoulders. I know, it’s a lot to get the hang of. But once u GET the MOLD ie the body position, you’re good for LIFE!
Note to kizomba dancers: Amongst other things, the reason people have so much trouble with the saida torques, or leading/following pivots or syncopations, is due to incorrect posture. Keep your chin up as well, and just use your eyes to look down if you must. The moment your head goes foward, that’s 12 lbs changing your posture…
Posture away!!! All day every day! Guess what? In meetings and interactions you can get a 2-for-1, Improve your posture, improve your dance AND look way more confident in business. It looks so body aware…! S
The next most important topic we’ll talk about is HOW TO WALK IN DANCE! Yep, COZ it’s not a normal walk (normally your heels touch the ground first, in dance it’s the balls of ur feet!). Stay tuned!
Ps. Even though this photo is for ballet, it applies to all partner/social dances. Funny they don’t mention toes turned out here!
Check out our pinterest boards too! pinterest.com/godanz.
FB: GoDanz ; Kizomba Music and Videos; Sunday Kizomba Social
What 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’).
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.
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 PLEASE DO IT TO THE MUSIC?
*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!
This is written all in fun, about the ladies, for the men to agree with or disagree with. Remember there are strengths and weaknesses for each type. Note that leaders and followers can be male or female.
1. The Man Whisperer
(+) This seductress gets ‘right in there’, so if you like cozy, you’re in for a treat. She whispers in your ear, looks at your adoringly, feels at one with your body and her hands are all up in your neck and hair. And he may just love that.
(–) She could be perceived as having MES, otherwise known as the “Man Eater Syndrome!” He may find himself feeling slightly violated with her pressing herself on his body. Often I see men doing this funny giggle, half out of amusement, half out of being uncomfortable and not sure what to do.
2. The Listener
(+) This is seemingly ideal from a follower’s point of view: Calm, present, attentive, precise. She is musical enough to ‘see’ where he’s going with a move or movement, but has enough control not to overtake his musical plan. She feels at one with your body without being sexual.
(-) If a lady is a perfect listener, it can make a leader feel a LOT of pressure. Her perfection makes his insecurities stand out more. He will start to doubt his dominant abilities and feel incompetent. He’ll secretly wish she would make some mistakes. He’ll end up saying thank you fairly quickly because he feels he has nothing more to offer her and is wasting her time.
3. The Snob
(+) She is very selective and prefers quality over quantity. She knows who is compatible and a good contender. If she chose you, whoa! dude! If you’re an experienced leader, you’ll be so happy…
(–) She’s not about sharing, she IS about fulfilling her addiction needs and getting her dance on. If you’re not stimulating to her, she won’t connect with you and even YOU’ll want to end the dance as fast as possible. Who wants to have that experience…moving on!
4. The Reprimander. Type A Control Freak
(+) Oh dear. A positive? Um….Some men like that. Most men don’t. (?!)
(-) This type of follower has harsh expectations of what the lead ‘should’ do, instead of letting him figure things out. Reprimanders need to simmer down and tell themselves, dancing is not about being right or wrong. It’s understandable if you paid money to find out how to dance ‘correctly’, and you expect EVERYONE to know the rules and execute them perfectly, just like you. The fact is, we all need tolerance and patience while the leaders gain experience. Even if it’s not going according to plan, try and follow perfectly, whatever it is, and feel empathy for the lead. (I dare you to try and lead. It’s HARD!!!). Don’t put him down!!!! You always have a choice to say ‘No thank you’ if you’re a snob dancer, but as long as you said yes, give him good vibes, give love to your 3-minute man! NO ONE likes to be put down.
5. The Ton of Bricks Dancer
(+) You may like the fact that she needs you to guide her and that feels good. You could change her life by giving her a simple, repetitive, connecting dance where she feels safe (ask her to cover your massage bills later).
(–) She feels heavy and slumped down, because she needs you for her support and balance. Hey it happens to all of us….please be patient. It’s hard to be a follower…you try it! Ladies, to avoid being waterbuffalo, lift your sternum up, engage your core, put some tone in your legs, point your toes, shoulders back: TECHNIQUE WILL CURE THAT!
6. I’m-All-About-That-Butt dancer
(+) Wow, that’s nice to look at….look how she mooooove! I’m gonna be like Sara Lopez!
(–) Men will feel constant jiggling around (oops). It’ll feel like static in the connection, and you’ll get the impression you’re dancing without her. Hey, may as well do your own dance, honey! Kizomba is about expressing not impressing… Don’t try so hard to stick ur butt out or move it this way and that way. DO move your butt if you know the pathways, know body isolations and can make each movement super small and subtle to express the music. Without disrupting the lead.
7. The Ice Dancer
(+) She forces the lead to ‘reign it in’, and go back to very calm, basic things before trying harder moves. She is stiff, and doesn’t yet trust the lead, so resists momentum or closeness.
(–) She’s very tense, probably coming from salsa dancing. It’s too hard to move her, especially on the cha chas (volta): You cha cha, and she stays behind, no matter how much your right arm tenses up and pushes her, no matter how tight your core is.
8. The Dreamer
(+) This follower is in LOVE w EVERYONE! Big smile on her face, beaming, ecstatic! Every man feels like a star around her and loves that she asks him. She is known to never end the dance herself. Other women think, “Wow, is that guy really THAT good? I guess i’ll say yes next time he asks me.”
(–) She is possibly not self aware and not such a technical dancer because her head is so often in the clouds and isn’t analyzing anything….but hey, she’s still good and she never says no to you.
9. The Performer
(+) Ahhhh yes. Well the only positive is if the lead doesn’t dance so well, and is more than happy to have her take over!
(-) The follower who is more concerned about how she looks rather than how she feels to him. Often looking around to see who is watching, she makes many blunders from being unfocused. He feels lack of connection as well, like things are out of synch, or she goes to the right when he leads her to the left.