[Callers] What to do with a really bad new dancer?

Meg Dedolph via Callers callers at lists.sharedweight.net
Mon Mar 6 15:17:20 PST 2017

A friend of mine with autistic kids shared something with me that she
learned from her kids' therapist: some people have a hard time taking
verbal direction for physical activity and do better by seeing a
So sometimes when I have a dancer on the floor who seems really confused, I
think about this idea. Your mileage may vary.
Anyway. Good luck.
Meg in Chicago
On Mon, Mar 6, 2017 at 4:58 PM Marie-Michèle Fournier via Callers <
callers at lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:

> Thanks April and everyone else, this is giving me a lot of ideas to think
> about.
> To answer your question, he does not seem to understand the "damage" he's
> sometimes leaving in his wake, he might not realize the importance of being
> on time to help the other dancers. If anyone has a gentle way to suggest to
> let him understand that it would be appreciated. But once we do that, I
> like the suggestion to include him in discussions about how to help and
> would like to do it.
> Unfortunately, this is a fairly small community with lots of new dancers
> every time, so I don't think we have 12 experienced female dancers, let
> alone 12 willing to dance with him and I'm not sure he's willing to dance
> with other men. I might not be the only one who is struggling to have
> empathy because I do not want to dance with him twice (he also smells
> really bad and doesn't always control the strength with which he grips my
> hand, although that might be getting better). Do you think it's better to
> concentrate our efforts at the beginning of the evening so new dancers can
> get used to contra, or at the end of the evening when dances are usually a
> little more complicated?
> Also, trying to articulate the problem a little better: he can swing
> reasonably, and I think circles and stars are ok if the music is not too
> fast. But I think that sometimes he does the wrong thing with confidence
> which throws people off if he doesn't have a firm, experienced partner to
> hold him back.
> Thanks all, I already have lots of material to think about, but keep it
> coming!
> Marie
> ContraMontreal
> On Mon, Mar 6, 2017 at 5:30 PM, April Blum via Callers <
> callers at lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
> You want to avoid letting him pair up with a new dancer, so you might
> indeed want to have a confidential chat with the regular ladies who are
> also good leads, and see if they are willing to take turns dancing with him.
> Some techniques for his partners: Walk the swing and stop early to face
> in. Turn 1.5 allemandes into half allemandes or pull bys. Turn free moves
> into "with hands" moves where possible. Ask your caller to suggest that
> everyone try a hey with hands if the timing is tight. Or turn a hey for
> four into a hey for three, with you and he acting as a unit. That works for
> half heys as well. Just cross the set together, dodging the other two
> dancers. If he's hopelessly behind each time through, consider skipping B2
> and set up for the next repetition. Maybe concentrate on getting him
> comfortable with the first part of the sequence.
> Is he aware of his "rock in the stream of the dance" status? The answer to
> this might affect how much adaptation he will accept.
> Do keep in mind that it takes a certain amount of courage to try something
> new and challenging, particularly as an individual rather than a couple.
> And one or more of the organizers should chat with him at the break. It
> would be useful to find out if he has a physical challenge. On Mar 6, 2017
> 3:13 PM, Marie-Michèle Fournier via Callers <
> callers at lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
> >
> > Hi everyone,
> >    Lately a new dancer has started coming to our dance and he is bad
> enough that he will often make the set break if the dance is moderately
> challenging. He seems to have some kind of impairment and walks very
> stiffly which means he will often not be on time for a figure and also
> often does not remember what is coming next.
> >   We want to be inclusive but at the same time his presence negatively
> impacts other dancers in his set and while some of the experienced dancers
> will take one for the team and dance with him, it is an unpleasant
> experience to be his partner. Unfortunately, we always have many new
> dancers and having one couple not be where they should be can really throw
> them off in some dances so I feel like I have to push and pull him around
> to be on time, despite the fact that it's a little rude.
> >    A recent caller to our dance called him a "speed bump" which was
> quite accurate. I'm sure other dances have had experience with similar
> troubles, does anyone have advice on how to deal with this so that other
> dancers still have a good time yet we are nice to this problematic dancer?
> > Thank you
> > Marie
> > ContraMontreal
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