February 16, 2008

Is it good to make it look easy?

So, after my class this morning I asked my students how things were feeling. This is the fifth of a six-session beginner class. Or, to be exact...7.5 hours of classroom time and for the majority of these students this was this first and only class. When teaching beginners I'm always torn between making things too simplified or overwhelming them. Over the years, I've settled into my own little groove on this. All I want is for them to walk away with a better appreciation of their own female form and the basics of good technique. After they leave my class, I would hope they continue to pursue classes...and I can't police everything they do, but at least I showed them the basics and made them sweat a little in the process.

So today, one of them said everything still feels awkward, and the most frustrating part is watching me do the movement, because she said I make it look so easy. I gave her my party line on that...I've been doing this for more than a decade now...and with work and practice it will become easy for her as well.

However, I've been thinking all day that maybe it isn't good to tell students it will get easier with time. Sure, your body acclimates, adjusts and sometimes even embraces the movement, but I'm not sure it becomes easy. It just becomes familiar.

For me, I always work harder teaching the class than the students do because I want to make sure every movement is precise and 'text-book' perfect. So, while they are trying to learn one perfect hip drop I'm trying to ensure every hip drop of mine is good, solid and certainly worthy of watching. I may not grimace or groan (or even sweat too much) during certain moves but they never feel "easy" because I spend so much time thinking about every part of what I'm teaching.

So, thinking about my student's comment I wonder how much I should share with the class. Do I tell them it never gets that easy and it's a lot of work, and then possibly scare them off before they are suitably hooked on this dance form? Or, do I just take the compliment and keep on going...I'm thinking I probably fall somewhere in the middle depending upon my mood that day. And today, after class (and after watching a great show with Suhaila), I think I'm feeling that the moves don't get easier...you just appreciate it when dancers make them look effortless.

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