[Callers] What to do with a really bad new dancer?
Neal Schlein via Callers
callers at lists.sharedweight.net
Mon Mar 6 22:39:42 PST 2017
Interesting observation, Alan.
Yes, I've encountered it with female dancers as a dancer and caller.
However...it isn't quite the same. I suspect it is both more apparent and
more pronounced with men, AND that once they've braved the waters to come
dancing the experience of it may be less likely to cause them to stop
dancing than it is with women.
Here's my reasoning:
Even though squares and contra are not even close to being true lead/follow
dances, the men's role is still imbued with more directional control and
responsibility in things like properly positioning swings and managing
courtesy turns. A man who persistently fails at those will be more
disruptive and obvious than an equally incompetent female counterpart due
to simple physics and the nature of contra choreography. There is nothing
to tell him that HE is the problem, and if he has never seen or experienced
a truly successful set he doesn't know any better.
There is also a more significant social component. Men tend to be rewarded
for acting confident and penalized for seeking outside validation, so much
so that we do it even when we don't know what we're doing. Women
experience the reverse situation and are likely to be criticized (or feel
they will be criticized) for being confident even when they obviously DO
know what they are doing. That means a struggling male dancer is more
likely to go confidently wrong than a woman, while a skilled male dancer is
more willing to confidently "assist" a difficult partner than his equally
skilled female counterparts. Conversely, a struggling female dancer is
more likely to accept assistance and willingly perceive the problem than a
There is research which has been done on false confidence, where people who
possess highly above-average skill will tend to underestimate their own
knowledge and overestimate that of others, while those who persistently
fail to learn will tend to do the reverse. This sort of
persistent-beginner dancer may actually believe that he is learning at a
perfectly fine rate.
Another piece of research that I think is relevant has to do with the
different reactions men and women have to the same act of failure. An
assessment was done of failed funding attempts on Kickstarter. What the
researchers discovered first was that a repeated effort was more likely to
succeed. Then they broke down the behavior by gender. When male
entrepreneurs failed to receive backing, they were highly likely to repost
the same project until it succeeded. A female entrepreneur, on the other
hand, would scrap it and try something completely different--if she tried
anything at all. The researchers interpreted this difference as being
caused by relative internalization of community commentary. (I haven't
read the original papers, and learned of both topics through NPR. I can
dig up the citations if anyone is interested in learning more.)
Anyway, if that conclusion is correct, male versions of these problem
dancers may stick around despite repeatedly failing, while the female of
the species realizes something is wrong and jumps ship. This is probably
especially true if the men are receiving any sort of encouragement or
positive feedback at all.
Just some thoughts.
Youth Services Librarian, Mahomet Public Library
Currently reading: *The Different Girl* by Gordon Dahlquist
Currently learning: How to set up an automated email system.
On Mon, Mar 6, 2017 at 7:41 PM, Winston, Alan P. via Callers <
callers at lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
> I've seen some responses on the organizers list and here, and I've thought
> about the persistent rock-in-the-stream dancer we had in Berkeley (who did,
> eventually, start modifying the dances so he could get where he needed on
> time, and who indeed various women would ask to dance or he'd be asking the
> new young women dancers and confusing them horribly).
> One thing I'm noticing from the similar stories and responses is that all
> the rocks in the stream I'm hearing about are male, and it's falling on
> experienced women dancers to save the dance from them.
> Is this just a problem with small sample sizes? Has anyone encountered
> this kind of dancer, the kind who really structurally can't ever be good at
> it, spreads confusion, and yet keeps coming back, in female form?
> -- Alan
> On 3/6/2017 5:24 PM, Mary Collins via Callers wrote:
> We have a dancer here in Buffalo that has a hard time hearing and ear-mind
> process-motor response time is very very slow. (I worry about him
> driving). We have a loose house rule that the regular good lady dancers
> pair with this gentleman. Otherwise he will ask newbies to dance, and
> often is at the end of the line, after the walk through. When you dance
> with him you have to call to him through the dance and guide him to where
> he needs to be. This is how we have dealt with our own issue.
> In your case, you might want to invite him to your beginner's workshop
> where you can address some of the issues you have seen him experience (i.e.
> the 1/2 alemande instead of the 1 1/2 of the call, or a shorter swing.
> Play up the better never than late thing and talk about flourishes and how
> they are not really a necessary part of the dance experience.
> the others have mentioned other ideas that are really good.
> Good luck Marie!
> Mary in Buffalo
> “Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass ... it's about learning
> to dance in the rain!” ~ Unknown
> On Mon, Mar 6, 2017 at 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
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