Post 183: TEACHING STYLE

First class today was Cunningham contemporary.

The teacher began seated on the floor so that she was equal with everyone. She made eye contact as the register was taken and she made an excellent attempt to remember everyone’s name. I noted this made everyone more relaxed and created a group atmosphere.

In general that class had a slow delivery. This suited the time in the morning but also relaxed the class and allowed time to analyse movement and correct details and breathing.

Exercise 1 was contraction. The teacher took time to ensure everyone understood the sequence. 16 holds in contraction side stretch for 12 stretch to other side with 4 counts transition. She then moved through an order of exercises from arm rotations, alignment check, tendues and plies. The progression down the body was accompanied by a continued dialogue. Her friendly approach encouraged questions which she answered even if they seemed obvious. Movement Ross the space was encouraged and like all the exercises the class repeated once corrections were given.

She initially began class teaching at the front. She then moved the front to the back and sides so that everyone could see. Often she demonstrated in the middle of the class again so that students could observe what she described. I noted the change in direction caused the class to look outward more and interact with her.

She also changed how the class worked. She got everyone to change direction to complete an exercise so they were learning for themselves rather than copying others. She encouraged travelling across the room in 4s to reduce the tent ion of performing alone. She got art era to work together to practice and correct positioning. This worked well as individual members were corrected whilst others learnt from observation and correction. For the final set phrase she taught the sequence in chunks with imagery and demonstrations as well as description. She allowed individual practice before encouraging individuals to work together to recall the sequence. She did one final correction before running the sequence. 

In the lesson the dominant feeling was of a knowledgable artist who suported her Learners. The slow pace of the class could have resulted in disengagement but the intent was maintained by moving in the space and working with a partner. Stationary exercises were contrasted with feet and movement in the space. The cool down used the initial exercise but slower so that the body relaxed.

In first parallel; Plie and contract, recover arms to second, twist to one side, twist to the other, arms to first lean back then contract forward, tilt to side arm in 4th repeat to other side and again swing the front arm tobackward in circle use this to take body in circle arms in second Plie to repeat on other side. Breath and keep hips and legs still. 

I enjoyed the class. There were sections to challenge and others I knew.
I contrast this class with the Jazz teacher.

Technically the Jazz class was not overly demanding but to perform any genre of dance requires thought and technical precision.

I however disengaged immediately. I tried to maintain focus but I was clock watching.

Why it went wrong so quickly was due not to the content but due to the teachers style. 

At the start of class participants were lined up along the back wall then assigned a position in the room to stand. The chatter in the room ceased immediately and the science continued as the teacher walked to the stereo to start the music. The environment was awkward. 

The teacher looked disinterested and the lesson poorly planned. The warm up was to be copied but the teacher seemed to make it up as she went along stating that she is watching and we should know it on the reverse side.

The warm up took one third of the class. For an end of day class it was full of cardio and most were fatigued. 

This moved to simplistic travelling sequences with no instruction or correction. “You should be able to do this at your stage” was stated as a complex turning sequence was then begun. The class was a general level and many of the silent participants needed this sequence broken down and tided. 

Clearly dance was “what you make it” but I felt none of us were making much of it!!

There was 8 counts of a Latin Jazz routine added at the end. This had a reeeeallly long intro so by the time the section played I had nearly forgotten the moves!!!

I was fatiguing due to the lack of pacing and was really trying to stay focussed.

There was no cool down- we were asked to spend 5 mins stretching and told we were “all suited to this class level and welcome to stay”.

Post class: more than half of those in attendance opted to change course!!

I felt the teaching style would be well suited to  a school situation where members were likely to misbehave or opt out but did not suit an adult audience who had paid to be there. 

I spoke to the teacher informally the next day. I smiled and joked and did not let on my true feelings.

She was in a hurry to get from the class to her show in London west end. She was worried about the time before class and had not panned the lesson fully due to rehearsal commitments. I feel the learning point for me was: make sure you plan a lesson and leave time to get to the next appointment.

I did take on her more strict teaching style as suited to school, but acknowledge if you want people to remain in the class or enjoy it a more enthusiastic and Positive manner would be more suited to achieving a demanding programme.

The next lesson the teacher had was equally strict but I noted some of the ladies tried to engage her on conversation before class. This had an effect of her seeing them as individuals and benifitted the attention they were given in class.

For contrast; the Jazz lady was unable to take the Wednesday class (shame!!) and a cover teacher filled in.

The class was of equal level and content. However, she began by saying the level of the class and to stop her if we had problems. Like the contemporary teacher she also sat on the floor but joked she would not learn our names as she would only see us once. She faced the class for the warm up in contrast to the other Jazz teacher. She counted and shouted the movements she wanted and this kept us from getting lost in a new warm up. She had planned well and stated she was including some movements that our main teacher had. She completed centre exercises arms, legs etc but got us to repeat them and used her voice and expressions to get us to give a bit more “oomph” lol 

She stuck with traditional jazz and in the arm isolation sequence joked when we got it wrong and messed up herself so we would notice or copy. This lightened the mood.

The timing of the class was more planned a ten min warm up was followed by half hour of technique then travelling. Time was given for water breaks. The dance filled the rest of the time. I felt the pace of the class Was maintained and the energy remained high.

I felt the Mel of her good lesson was the front row shimmying to the start of the tune (rather than standing awkwardly).

The cool down was also teacher led but moved from large movements with dynamic to smaller and relaxing ones. The movements were readily followed but reduced heart rates and stretched participants out. 

She even got a round of applause at the end🤗

Which class did I prefer….difficult… the first one taught more technical content but the last one was most enjoyable.

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