Thursday, April 4, 2013

Impromptu Teaching

You can tell when a given picture of me was taken based on my hair length and/or color
I never show up to class and just wing it. I always have carefully planned classes with predetermined objectives. And I'm a better teacher because of it. However, sometimes the universe presents opportunities to try something new.

Since it's spring break my regular studio has cancelled classes. Since I can't go more than two days without dancing, I found another studio to take class at. But the teacher never arrived. So there we were without a teacher, and the secretary asked if I would just teach. I figured why not?

Here are some tips on teaching without preparation:

  • take a lot of classes so that your brain has lots and lots of combinations and class outlines readily rememberable. (Is anyone else shocked that my spell check recognized "rememberable" as a real word? Just me?)
  • try to tease out what other teachers' objectives are as you are taking class
  • when a teacher gives a class-wide correction, watch to see if the next exercise incorporates that correction
Okay, technically those are tips to become more prepared. Here's some advice on what to do in the moment:
  • keep your barre exercises short. Even the best-planned classes have trouble fitting everything in; short barre exercises will help you have enough time for center work
  • it's okay to ask adults what they want to work on that day, and then let that guide you. Don't ask kids 
  • center work will ideally include a center tendu or adagio (to help everyone get on their leg), an en dedans turn, an en dehors turn, and petit, medium and grand allegros. I like to make the petit allegro long to make sure we get a good cardio element 
  • it's always best when the grand allegro incorporates elements you've already worked on in class. That way everyone can focus on feeling grand and wonderful instead of worrying about the individual pieces of the combination. If you can end on a good-feeling grand allegro, most people will have a really good feeling about the entire class
While I never know if people actually enjoy my classes or just smile because it's polite, everyone was smiling throughout the evening. And I had a great time!

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