[Callers] The Beginners' Lesson Tips?

D Bar davey.bar at gmail.com
Tue Oct 4 02:37:29 PDT 2011

Dear me, I could write a novel with all this information!
Thank you all for the wonderful feedback, insights, and suggestions.
Hopefully some beginners show up so I DO get to use it. =)


On Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 12:44 AM, Keith Tuxhorn <keithlmt at gmail.com> wrote:

> I'd disagree with Richard re: dropping teaching the swing. For most modern
> contra dancers, that's one of the 2-3 most important things about why
> people
> do these dances, at least in the Midwest. With every dance having at least
> one swing, the instructor should get them prepared.
> And I'd rather that a teacher show them how to swing than the "experienced"
> dancers within the dance. First, "experienced" does not equal "good" in
> contra dancing, as you many know. here in my town there's a large
> percentage
> of experienced dancers that I would never want to have teach newbies,
> because they have yet to learn how to swing properly. A teacher can show
> proper position and motions, as well as warn people about etiquette
> regarding swings.
> Also, teaching swings is a chance to teach about giving weight,
> positioning,
> and "where you go from here".
> Out community has, coincidentally, debated issues re" beginner sessions
> recently. One issue is length of the lesson. One dancer likes to emphasize
> that George Marshall's beginner session runs about 10 minutes, tops. and
> George teaches weight, swings, how a musical line sounds, and that's it.
> Other thought longer lengths would be better... After calling 5 years, I've
> found that 15 minutes gives me enough to get people ready. I teach in a
> circle, and steal most of my session approach from Seth Tepfer. Walk to the
> 8-count; allemandes, dosodo, swings; show how to give weight; string the
> moves together and call a "dance", and congratulate them for doing a dance
> already.
> Think about what's going through a newbie's mind when they walk into a
> hall.
> Think how much new stuff they're processing from that first moment through
> the night. You don't want to try to teach twelve things in a half-hour,
> because no newbie will retain it all, it's time and energy wasted. Get them
> to the dancing, because getting them out of their head sooner rather than
> later will serve them and you better.
> Good luck, Davey, and have a great time (and THAT'S the most important
> thing)!
> Keith Tuxhorn
> Austin, TX
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