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Thread: Dance teaching in the UK compared to other countries

  1. #21
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    Re: Is CEROC a Cult?

    I think the issue is - someone correct me if I am wrong - "advanced" classes here are for people who label themselves as advanced, "advanced" classes in NZ and OZ seem to be for people who others label as advanced. Where you have that model, our "advanced" classes will never be "advanced" When people are learning something, the worst person to tell you how they are doing is themselves.

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    Re: Midland Swing Open 2010 - 17th-19th September

    Quote Originally Posted by straycat View Post
    Why so? I want to be the best social dancer I can possibly be. If there are places overseas that can help me achieve that better than anywhere in this country, why would it be anti-social to say so?
    Sorry, you are right. I got it around the wrong way. I think it's anti-social to say that we are lacking in the UK compared to other nations. It's lacking in patriotism to keep pointing out our failings as a nation compared to other nations. I've noticed this trend on here recently and have pointed it out. We live in a fabulous country and should look towards our strengths.

    As an example we recently had a case of a local newspaper editor retiring to Spain. His parting shot in his paper was to say why he was leaving and how bad our country was - his wife got sick very soon after moving to Spain and they've come back home because she needed care that we give for free in our country.

    There seems to be an acceptance of anti-patriotic comparison with other nations. In some countries they'd be burning your effigy

  3. #23
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    Re: Is CEROC a Cult?

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff
    My comment wasn't an assumption. It was an observation, based on my experience. You can be offended all you like (I really, really don't care), but it doesn't make you right or me wrong.

    Denying that my observations have any merit is something I might be more offended about: are you suggesting I am wrong? Or lying? If the former, I'd appreciate some soft of proof. Preferably based on your experience of classes run by Ceroc NZ ... when did you last attend one? If the latter... hmmm. It might be nice to provide some sort of proof then, too. Or an apology. Particularly for calling me arrogant when you have no knowledge of whether I am right or not. If you don't have any proof, then that's cool - but I'll just ignore you offence.


    First of all, I have to agree with Geoff to a large degree. Routines are more complicated in NZ than in the UK, the standard of the “average” NZ dancer from some areas (notably Auckland* – the major population and MJ hub) is higher than the “average” ones from the UK. The advanced workshops I attended when I lived in the UK were notable only because I couldn’t believe just how many people couldn’t get it when it seemed relatively easy. In short, I think the teachers from NZ have done a better job with what they have at teaching dance, and I’m sure Andy will be delighted to know that a basic footwork structure has been largely responsible for that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff
    To be even more specific: the most recent 'advanced' workshop I attended in the UK was one taught by Phil Webb on dips and drops. All of the drops in this workshop, even the most difficult, I have been previously taught in intermediate classes in NZ. In the workshop, most of the attendees were struggling with these moves; with the same moves taught in an intermediate class in NZ, most people would be able to execute them perfectly well.
    Don’t get me started on the teaching of dips and drops in the UK. Again, I have to back up Geoff that this is not a strength of the UK MJ scene. This is from someone who no longer uses them either.

    Although I doubt they will “win me friends”, as Andy so eloquently puts it, these are my experiences having been involved in both models. Anecdotally at least they are also the experiences of every single NZer or Australian I know personally who have learned under both systems and the three British folk I know who started in the UK and moved here later. It is not a coincidence that Geoff and I have strong views on the matter.

    ....NZ Monkey stops to take a breath......

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff
    Things are changing in NZ - my real experience is a few years ago, so I might be a little off the money now. Although the last intermediate class I attended in NZ was in February this year; the last Ceroc UK advanced workshop was a few weeks ago.
    Geoff is also right that his information is a little out of date. I also think that he’s guilty of generalising a bit much. Geoff is basing his opinions off the longest running studio (an actual, full-time studio) here in the heart of Auckland, with a bevy of passionate and experienced teachers . This is, in my experience, the most progressive and popular venue in the country with the attraction of being in the centre of the social hotspots for going out after the Friday night freestyle. The better dancers in the region do tend to gravitate here. I can’t say with certainty that there are many other venues in the country that can match it, but what I’ve seen so far suggests otherwise. On top of that the Auckland franchises at least are, on the whole, of pretty good quality.

    The tests Geoff refers to were actually ended about three years ago, and replaced with a “Moving Up” workshop. For a number of years this workshop was compulsory for people to move up to intermediate classes, and they were run monthly. The teachers could give individual students feedback in this workshop and if someone was woefully unprepared they could encourage them in the right direction.

    It’s worth noting that although there were cards with hints and move lists for beginners, and a test with a teacher to move up to intermediate classes, there was never a checking mechanism to ensure that the people joining the intermediate classes had “earned” the right to be there. Consequently there were always a few who moved themselves up and got away with it. Once these tests were removed however, many more people started moving themselves up, and as the workshops were run only monthly it was difficult to argue that they shouldn’t be allowed there. Eventually the decision was made by management to make the workshops optional.

    Over time this started having a detrimental effect on the quality of the intermediate classes. This was further compounded by the loss of a number of quality teachers due to discontent with the changes bought about after Ceroc NZ was sold to a new owner. The people in those classes now are not as technically competent as Geoff remembers them being. It was noticable in February if you'd been around for the previous year (which I presume Geoff hadn't), and it's probably a little more noticable in June. In any event, it is evident on the social floor.

    Finally, I’m only talking about the “average” quality of dancer here as well. The very best in the UK have many more opportunities to grow, and although most of them do so by exploring dance outside the MJ world some of that filters back and makes a difference.

    Quote Originally Posted by Straycat
    Do you find that this costs them numbers? Or do their retention rates compare well to the UK?
    It’s a little hard to compare the two without hard data because of the staggering difference in population density between the UK and NZ. The UK simply has more people in the same space, and so get more numbers. My only experience is with London, which has around 10 times the number of people in a similar area.

    What I can say is that the changes in the tests were introduced precisely because some people were intimidated by them, and subjectively at least it doesn’t seem to have made any difference to the numbers in the venue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadful Scathe
    I think the issue is - someone correct me if I am wrong - "advanced" classes here are for people who label themselves as advanced, "advanced" classes in NZ and OZ seem to be for people who others label as advanced. Where you have that model, our "advanced" classes will never be "advanced" When people are learning something, the worst person to tell you how they are doing is themselves.
    I think you’re absolutely right, although it’s a little bit of a sliding scale rather than a black and white distinction. You still get people here who think they’re advanced who really shouldn’t. There is perhaps a little more social pressure to be honest about your abilities here, as you’ll be expected to be able to get most an advanced class if you put yourself in one.

    Also, the advanced classes are mostly difficult performance moves that are often unleadable. I do not consider participation in those classes to be a pre-requisite of an advanced dancer.


    *The rest of the country refer to us as JAFA’s. Just Another......... you get the idea.

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    Re: Is CEROC a Cult?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor View Post
    I think there's been threads on this subject in the past. Reading the above posts it seems that there is a general agreement that advanced lessons are difficult to run - of course that's a small sample and someone else might like to start a thread to disagree with us.

    Or start a thread on how much better classes and dancers are in NZ and how easy UK MJ lessons are for someone who has been to classes in NZ.
    There have been threads on this subject in the past as well. (They did not end well...)

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    Re: Is CEROC a Cult?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Franklin View Post
    There have been threads on this subject in the past as well. (They did not end well...)
    Perhaps so, but the forum has had time to grow and mature since then. I feel confident that this time will be different

  6. #26
    Registered User David Franklin's Avatar
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    Re: Is CEROC a Cult?

    Quote Originally Posted by straycat View Post
    Perhaps so, but the forum has had time to grow old and withered since then.
    Fixed that for you.

    (It's funny because it's true).

    To be fair, the protaganists here have been a bit more circumspect in their posting.

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    Re: Is CEROC a Cult?

    Quote Originally Posted by straycat View Post
    Perhaps so, but the forum has had time to grow and mature since then. I feel confident that this time will be different
    I hope the difference is that we can celebrate and learn from the differences rather than use this as another opportunity to run down our fabulous nation.

    What we do in the UK fits our national character. There may be 'characters' who don't like what fits the UK. Some British 'characters' like to moan - which seems to be part of the nation's character that antipodeans have noticed

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    Re: Is CEROC a Cult?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Franklin View Post
    protaganists ..
    more circumspect
    I think we've leant some long words too.

  9. #29
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    Re: Is CEROC a Cult?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor View Post
    I think we've leant some long words too.
    Well, I like to keep pushing your educational boundaries, Andy...

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    Re: Is CEROC a Cult?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Franklin View Post
    Fixed that for you.
    Well - I hear the forums overseas are a great deal better, and have a much higher standard of debate...

    I'll just be getting my coat then...

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    Re: Is CEROC a Cult?

    Quote Originally Posted by straycat View Post

    I'll just be getting my coat then...
    Hey! You've forgotten the trilby

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    Re: Is CEROC a Cult?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Franklin View Post
    Well, I like to keep pushing your educational boundaries, Andy...
    I'm working on my education based on my personal needs assessment. I'm currently looking for a good spinnaker handling course so I can make my gybes more slick in Cowes week. I mostly learn very short words on sailing courses.

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    Re: Is CEROC a Cult?

    Quote Originally Posted by straycat View Post
    Well - I hear the forums overseas are a great deal better, and have a much higher standard of debate...

    I'll just be getting my coat then...


    What we need to find is a foreign forum where they'e saying the standard of dancing is much higher in the UK.

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    Re: Is CEROC a Cult?

    Quote Originally Posted by NZ Monkey View Post
    Also, the advanced classes are mostly difficult performance moves that are often unleadable. I do not consider participation in those classes to be a pre-requisite of an advanced dancer.
    Are you talking about Antipodean advanced classes or UK advanced classes?

    I would agree that most 'advanced' workshops that i've seen have been like this, however most workshops classed as 'intermediate' (and a lot of 'beginner') have been technique based... personally I would rather attend these.

  15. #35
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    Re: Dance teaching in the UK compared to other countries

    So, I'm probably not going to make myself any friends here. At least, not down under!

    I think that probably some of what Geoff and NZM have said is correct. At least, in Auckland, and some of the major dances venues in some cities in Australia. Although it's certainly not countrywide by any stretch of the imagination!

    Over the last few years, I've taught and danced in pretty much every place in Australia and New Zealand where there is modern jive. And I'd agree that in some of those places, the moves being taught are generally harder than the moves being taught in probably most of the places in the UK.

    However, at some point, I'd like to think that these in these places they'll one day come to realise that dancing is not just about the moves, but about so much more - style, musicality, movement, smoothness, attitude etc. And, I have to say that generally in a lot of the same places where the moves are harder and more technical, the standard of a lot of the other things that I'd probably consider to be more important than just moves, is (averagely) behind that of a lot of places in the UK. I've seen 2 teachers in NZ, teaching these harder moves, who couldn't even count the class in on the beat!!

    Having said that, I do need to point out that it is a generalisation (hence the italics), and there are plenty of people in both NZ and Oz who are very talented at all the other things that make what I consider to be good dancers, in addition to just moves. But I would honestly consider the average level across dancers in the UK to be higher in these areas of dance, than the average level across dancers in NZ and Oz.

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    Re: Dance teaching in the UK compared to other countries

    Warning: Anecdote incoming (no actual content or insight is present).

    I've never attended other countries' classes, but the (non Ceroc) venue I attend most Mondays has an 'Advanced' lesson after the intermediates.

    It's fixed partners only, and it isn't actually technically hard - I've made it through twice (with random partners that fancied giving it a go - 'fixed' means no rotation, rather than long dancing relationships).

    Obviously if they're letting me have a go there's no minimum standard required, and it is merely teaching a technical move rather than other aspects of 'advanced' dancing. It's fun, but I haven't tried leading any of those moves in freestyle.

    A friend from California (so WCS trained) that learned MJ in New Zealand gave that advanced class a go, and was polite when she demeaned the standard. Her comments were that she found British classes (she's been to several as she's toured the country) easy, although she was judging them very explicitly from a technical perspective..

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    Re: Is CEROC a Cult?

    Quote Originally Posted by NZ Monkey View Post
    ....... Also, the advanced classes are mostly difficult performance moves that are often unleadable.
    So what's the point of that, then? Unless, of course, all 'Advanced' classes are intended only for dancers who compete or perform ....

    I do not consider participation in those classes to be a pre-requisite of an advanced dancer.
    Then is it not misleading to call them 'Advanced' Ceroc classes? Perhaps they should be called 'Performance' classes or 'Choreographed moves' classes or something more appropriate? Ceroc, if I remember correctly, is first and foremost a social partner dance where everyone dances with everyone else, hence lead & follow is a pretty essential part of the dance.

  18. #38
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    Re: Dance teaching in the UK compared to other countries

    Quote Originally Posted by TheTramp View Post
    And, I have to say that generally in a lot of the same places where the moves are harder and more technical, the standard of a lot of the other things that I'd probably consider to be more important than just moves, is (averagely) behind that of a lot of places in the UK.
    I'd agree with this too - most advanced classes to seem to be about moves (but not all). I remember when Jordan and Tatiana came to Southport years ago and did a routine - Nicky and Robert from Oz also did a routine. The contrast was extraordinary, it seemed to me that N&R did a collection of nice moves - whereas J&T actually danced. (only an opinion )

  19. #39
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    Re: Dance teaching in the UK compared to other countries

    Quote Originally Posted by Gadget View Post
    Are you talking about Antipodean advanced classes or UK advanced classes?

    I would agree that most 'advanced' workshops that i've seen have been like this, however most workshops classed as 'intermediate' (and a lot of 'beginner') have been technique based... personally I would rather attend these.
    To be specific I mean regular, weekly classes in Auckland Central. Not workshops. Personally, I think of them more like classes for the intermediates who cope well with the intermediate classes but want more flashy moves.

    And yes, I’d rather attend the workshops that covered the important things as well.....

    Quote Originally Posted by LilyB
    So what's the point of that, then? Unless, of course, all 'Advanced' classes are intended only for dancers who compete or perform ....
    .................
    Then is it not misleading to call them 'Advanced' Ceroc classes? Perhaps they should be called 'Performance' classes or 'Choreographed moves' classes or something more appropriate? Ceroc, if I remember correctly, is first and foremost a social partner dance where everyone dances with everyone else, hence lead & follow is a pretty essential part of the dance.
    That’s a very good question. I’d ask one of the students except that I really can’t be bothered.

    For what it’s worth I agree with you completely. I did not, however, name the class (and it’s been called that for longer than I’ve been dancing) nor do I have anything to do with running or teaching for Ceroc. It is what people seem to want though (although there is definitely a groundswell gaining momentum against that) and so the company provides it.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Tramp
    I think that probably some of what Geoff and NZM have said is correct. At least, in Auckland, and some of the major dances venues in some cities in Australia. Although it's certainly not countrywide by any stretch of the imagination!

    Over the last few years, I've taught and danced in pretty much every place in Australia and New Zealand where there is modern jive. And I'd agree that in some of those places, the moves being taught are generally harder than the moves being taught in probably most of the places in the UK.
    Thank you. That’s why I tried giving context to the situation in my last post.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Tramp
    However, at some point, I'd like to think that these in these places they'll one day come to realise that dancing is not just about the moves, but about so much more - style, musicality, movement, smoothness, attitude etc. And, I have to say that generally in a lot of the same places where the moves are harder and more technical, the standard of a lot of the other things that I'd probably consider to be more important than just moves, is (averagely) behind that of a lot of places in the UK. I've seen 2 teachers in NZ, teaching these harder moves, who couldn't even count the class in on the beat!!

    Having said that, I do need to point out that it is a generalisation (hence the italics), and there are plenty of people in both NZ and Oz who are very talented at all the other things that make what I consider to be good dancers, in addition to just moves. But I would honestly consider the average level across dancers in the UK to be higher in these areas of dance, than the average level across dancers in NZ and Oz.
    Which is all fair enough, and I’m certainly not going to try and argue with your experience.

    I do have a question though: Do you think these other things are a result of the technical teaching in classes around the country, or something else? I ask because the fact that MJ classes are “all about moves” is a very common complaint on this forum from UK-based people as well.

    **************

    I think whenever nationalities get compared on the forum, people get sensitive quite quickly. I suspect if [insert name of town not far from where you are now, which is part of the same company you frequent] was used as a counter example rather than a whole country on the other side of the world, things would be a lot less touchy.

    My feelings on the differences between teaching here and in the UK are something like this:
    • If you teach beginners to a reasonably stringent set of standards and at least nominally enforce them, it isn’t unreasonable to expect intermediates at or above that standard.
    • Where you set that standard sets the perception of what it means be a beginner or intermediate, but there’s no wrong place to put it.
    • Although they have the same name, the various MJ companies around the world do not always have the same goals, market, or methods.
    • I am lucky in that I live in an area where we have been spoilt, and have been guilty of generalising myself at times when it wasn’t appropriate.
    • There is a depth of resources in the UK that I’d love to be able to take advantage of in NZ, but we have to work with what we have at the moment and can pull in from overseas.
    • It never hurts to look at the way other people do things to see if we can learn something ourselves.

  20. #40
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    Re: Dance teaching in the UK compared to other countries

    Since the topic is about dance teaching, rather than specifically MJ, it's interesting to see that in the salsa world at least one group is pitching weekenders to cater for specific achievement levels.

    Maybe that's the way to improve MJ in the UK?

    Cheers,
    SpinDr

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