View Poll Results: Where are you on the Technique vs moves scale?

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10. You may not vote on this poll
  • 0 = I want pure technique!

    0 0%
  • 10 / 20 = Pure technique for me, with inspirational movements!

    3 30.00%
  • 30/40 = Technique is great, but I like a few complex patterns to help me.

    1 10.00%
  • 50/60 = I need moves to get me going, but need the technique to get it right.

    6 60.00%
  • 70/80 = I get bored without new inspiring moves. Technique comes naturally.

    0 0%
  • 90/100 = Technique is nothing without cool moves!

    0 0%
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Thread: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

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    Omnipresent Administrator Franck's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    I was using the 'Random Thread' feature above and stumbled upon a Thread started by Beowulf http://forum.cerocscotland.com/showt...-a-bit-of-both about Techniques vs Moves at workshops / classes.

    At the time of the thread, and from a teacher's perspective, I supported a mix of both (and I still do), though in retrospect, I believed that Technique was more important. On a scale of 0 to 100 (where 0 = no moves, pure technique and 100= all moves / no technique) I would have been around 30.
    With a few more years experience teaching, I have noticed that the balance has shifted, and whilst I still favour a high dose of technique in any class, I would shift the cut-off line further to the side of moves, possibly up to 50/60.

    I wonder if attitudes have changed?

    Where would you be on the scale? (either as a teacher or as a student); What would tip you to one side more than the other?
    Franck.

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    Formerly known as DavidJames David Bailey's Avatar
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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    Depends - which gets more money? (Actually, I know the answer to that - moves do)

    I think it's context sensitive. For example, if I'm teaching a beginner's Nuevo Tango workshop, it'll largely be a toolkit of moves - technique will be restricted to the movements. If I'm teaching a beginners Salon Tango workshop, it'll be largely technique-based.

    On the other hand, if I'm teaching an advanced Nuevo Tango workshop, there'll be more technique. And if I'm teaching an advanced Salon Tango workshop, it'll have more moves.

    So... it depends.

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    Omnipresent Administrator Franck's Avatar
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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    It depends, and Tango (as well as other progressive dances) is different. The focus has to lean towards technique to avoid stepping over each other and collisions...

    A further thought occurred to me, over the years I have learnt hundred of moves, and I'm now in a position to find moves that specifically teach or require a technique, so it might simply appear that I'm moving towards moves, whilst I'm really developing techniques.
    Franck.

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    Formerly known as DavidJames David Bailey's Avatar
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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by Franck View Post
    It depends, and Tango (as well as other progressive dances) is different. The focus has to lean towards technique to avoid stepping over each other and collisions...
    Well, I'd argue that all dances require technique, but that the form of Tango enforces this requirement - as you say, you can't really do it at all until you get the posture sorted out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Franck View Post
    A further thought occurred to me, over the years I have learnt hundred of moves, and I'm now in a position to find moves that specifically teach or require a technique, so it might simply appear that I'm moving towards moves, whilst I'm really developing techniques.
    Could be... depends.

    If your workshop is focussing on moves, and adding technique to those moves, I'd argue that it's a move-driven workshop. If it's focussing on technique, and using moves to illustrate the technique, I'd argue that it's technique-driven. The actual percentage of time devoted on each (even if you could measure it) is probably less important.

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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    When I started learning (almost 4 years ago) I was more focussed on learning moves, however, now I would rather spend time improving my technique (lead) and find that as I do, the moves come more naturally (ie unconsciously mixing them up together to create 'new' moves). I'm not sure I can pin down at what point my focus changed.
    Last edited by daveb9000; 30th-January-2012 at 02:10 PM. Reason: adding context

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    Omnipresent Administrator Franck's Avatar
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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bailey View Post
    Well, I'd argue that all dances require technique, but that the form of Tango enforces this requirement - as you say, you can't really do it at all until you get the posture sorted out.
    Well, yes of course they do, but the cost of lack of technique varies from dance to dance. MJ is one of the dances where having little technique is not a huge problem at the beginning (of course as one wants to improve beyond the beginners / early Intermediate stages, technique becomes crucial). I would argue that West Coast Swing is also 'low-cost' in terms of poor technique (I'm sure many WCS dancers in the UK would argue with that statement, but I have seen plenty evidence on video of WCS classes in America, where technique is clearly not that crucial for a good social dance).
    I agree with you that good technique is at the heart of every dance, but that progressive dances have a more upfront cost, and require technique earlier.
    Quote Originally Posted by David Bailey View Post
    If your workshop is focussing on moves, and adding technique to those moves, I'd argue that it's a move-driven workshop. If it's focussing on technique, and using moves to illustrate the technique, I'd argue that it's technique-driven. The actual percentage of time devoted on each (even if you could measure it) is probably less important.
    In that case all my workshops are technique driven, and maybe, as I get older, I have become less intransigent with regards to the moves vs technique argument.
    Quote Originally Posted by daveb9000 View Post
    When I started learning I was more focussed on learning moves, however, now I would rather spend time improving my technique (lead) and find that as I do, the moves come more naturally (ie unconsciously mixing them up together to create 'new' moves).
    That is the perfect progression, and you're right, as you absorb better technique all moves seem easier to pick-up and modify.
    Franck.

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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by Franck View Post
    A further thought occurred to me, over the years I have learnt hundred of moves, and I'm now in a position to find moves that specifically teach or require a technique, so it might simply appear that I'm moving towards moves, whilst I'm really developing techniques.
    I've very rarely seen technique taught in isolation to moves in any dance form. The only major exception I can think of is spinning technique (I'm sure there are others, but they just aren't that common).

    I did a few more in ballroom, but even there, I usually started with the moves/movements, then talk about the techniques required to make them work. In that environment, you often went back to 'beginners' moves and extended the technique. The move didn't change, but your execution of the move improved. I did do some purely technical workshops, but these were relatively rare. The key difference was that you might learn a four move routine then spend months 'mastering' each of the moves in that routine - which meant learning the technique required for those moves. I can't see this approach being common in modern jive, but it is a great way to learn how to dance well, rather than leaning a few dance moves.
    Quote Originally Posted by David Bailey View Post
    If your workshop is focussing on moves, and adding technique to those moves, I'd argue that it's a move-driven workshop. If it's focussing on technique, and using moves to illustrate the technique, I'd argue that it's technique-driven. The actual percentage of time devoted on each (even if you could measure it) is probably less important.

    I'm not sure that you ever 'add' technique to a move. Each move requires technique to perform it well. You either execute that well or you don't. The technique is always 'there', whether it's done well or not. It may sound like quibbling over the trivial, but it's a common misrepresentation of the idea that moves and technique are actually separate. They're not.

    What I find difficult is when teachers try teach moves without covering the necessary techniques to execute the move. Or, even worse, given bad/wrong information (my local teacher talks repeatedly about how the lead has to 'really pull down hard' at the end of a turn to let the follow know to stop turning; or to throw the arm really hard so that the follow spins faster: both examples of really bad - and potentially injurious - leading). Either is bad teaching and doesn't really equip dancers properly.

    If I was in charge, I'd make the approach pretty much as Franck describes. Each class/workshop would have a technical theme. Moves would be selected to teach and support the relevant technique (in theory, this is what the beginners moves should do; I'm not sure they do). It wouldn't be that hard to put a curriculum together to cycle through some core technical areas so that over - say - a six week cycle the core techniques are all covered. This would build a much stronger progressive foundation - and could be done without needing to actually tell anyone it was happening.

    To summarise: if you learn a move without understanding the underlying technique, then you know that move. Well done. But if you learn the underlying technique, then you know the move by default. But you also learn how to apply that technique to other moves (or to make up your own variations). You've learnt the move, but you've also learnt to dance.

    Of course, if I were in charge, there would soon be a rebellion. But that's another story...
    Last edited by geoff332; 30th-January-2012 at 02:55 PM. Reason: Added a comment from David Bailey.

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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post
    I've very rarely seen technique taught in isolation to moves in any dance form. The only major exception I can think of is spinning technique (I'm sure there are others, but they just aren't that common).
    I have been to a few and taught some myself, especially when it comes to 'Connection' where I have taught workshops without any moves, just pure exercises on connection techniques. I have also taught workshops on preps which didn't include any moves, just the concept and technique involved in prepping movement, and I've done progressive workshops which were all about the technique, no moves just how to lead your partner across the dance floor.
    All the above are probably the examples I had in mind when I said I have now changed my approach to add moves again, as I found that dancers responded better with a few 'hook' moves to hang their technique on.

    I agree with you other points
    Franck.

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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by daveb9000 View Post
    When I started learning (almost 4 years ago) I was more focussed on learning moves, however, now I would rather spend time improving my technique (lead) and find that as I do, the moves come more naturally (ie unconsciously mixing them up together to create 'new' moves). I'm not sure I can pin down at what point my focus changed.
    Within a MJ environment, that's a perfectly reasonable progression. In fact, I think that's the only progression path available within MJ.

    In fact, arguably, most people in most dance forms learn moves first. For all the talk of the purity of Tango and spending hours at a time learning the perfect way to walk, the proportion of people who actually do that, compared to the hordes who flock to "cool move workshop 231", is tiny.

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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by Franck View Post
    I would argue that West Coast Swing is also 'low-cost' in terms of poor technique (I'm sure many WCS dancers in the UK would argue with that statement, but I have seen plenty evidence on video of WCS classes in America, where technique is clearly not that crucial for a good social dance).
    Well, I'm not in the UK, but I tend to agree with you.

    It's harder to go very far in WCS without good technique, but it's reasonably easy to get hooked without it

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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by Franck View Post
    I would argue that West Coast Swing is also 'low-cost' in terms of poor technique (I'm sure many WCS dancers in the UK would argue with that statement, but I have seen plenty evidence on video of WCS classes in America, where technique is clearly not that crucial for a good social dance).
    I think it's true to say that good WCS dancers have great technique and that it's necessary to have good technique to do WCS well.

    But that's also true of modern jive too. And every other dance style I've done. It's all just dancing.

    The only major difference is I think WCS currently has a higher proportion of 'good' dancers than ceroc/mj. But I'm also fairly sure that that's changing as WCS becomes more popular, the standard of dancing will, quite naturally regress to the mean.

    Quote Originally Posted by daveb9000 View Post
    When I started learning (almost 4 years ago) I was more focussed on learning moves, however, now I would rather spend time improving my technique (lead) and find that as I do, the moves come more naturally (ie unconsciously mixing them up together to create 'new' moves). I'm not sure I can pin down at what point my focus changed.
    I've often said I only know three moves (sometimes four - if I'm feeling confident). I've probably posted it here a few times too.

    While that's sometimes facetious (and often having a go at the over-enthusiastic beginner who thinks moves = dancing. Or the teacher who tries to say we're doing a "sway duck catapult into a reverse veil". Or, as I call it, a "sway"), it's also quite a true statement. There are only so many basic movement patterns you can do. Everything else are just variations and combinations. In my view - and I think the point of this thread - is that the more you master the technique, then the better you're equipped to apply variations you know, make up new variations, and combine elements of moves/movements more smoothly. So moves become largely irrelevant and you can focus on dancing. It's all just dancing.

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    Formerly known as DavidJames David Bailey's Avatar
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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post
    I think it's true to say that good WCS dancers have great technique and that it's necessary to have good technique to do WCS well.

    But that's also true of modern jive too. And every other dance style I've done. It's all just dancing.
    Yup.

    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post
    The only major difference is I think WCS currently has a higher proportion of 'good' dancers than ceroc/mj. But I'm also fairly sure that that's changing as WCS becomes more popular, the standard of dancing will, quite naturally regress to the mean.
    Heh, I never thought of it that way, but you could be right, to an extent.

    Although I suspect that, on average, WCS classes still have more technique behind them than MJ classes. Also, a lot of WCS attendees (too many) are experienced MJ-ers, so they generally probably start from a higher initial point.

    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post
    There are only so many basic movement patterns you can do. Everything else are just variations and combinations. In my view - and I think the point of this thread - is that the more you master the technique, then the better you're equipped to apply variations you know, make up new variations, and combine elements of moves/movements more smoothly. So moves become largely irrelevant and you can focus on dancing. It's all just dancing.
    At the moment, I've just launched a weekly Tango night, and I'm experimenting with a slightly different approach to teaching at this night. Basically, I'm not teaching any sequences, I'm simply teaching technique first and then throwing in a demonstration at the end to say "this is how you can do it, if you want."

    So when teaching a giro (follower walks in a grapevine pattern around the leader) last night, I focussed on how to lead and follow chest rotation, and then I did the actual footwork bit almost as an afterthought.

    We'll see how that approach goes. If no-one comes back next week, I'll know it needs improvement...

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    Omnipresent Administrator Franck's Avatar
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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bailey View Post
    At the moment, I've just launched a weekly Tango night, and I'm experimenting with a slightly different approach to teaching at this night. Basically, I'm not teaching any sequences, I'm simply teaching technique first and then throwing in a demonstration at the end to say "this is how you can do it, if you want."

    So when teaching a giro (follower walks in a grapevine pattern around the leader) last night, I focussed on how to lead and follow chest rotation, and then I did the actual footwork bit almost as an afterthought.

    We'll see how that approach goes. If no-one comes back next week, I'll know it needs improvement...
    Let us know how it goes, I love this idea, and it reminds me of the 'focus workshops' I ran regularly. Really beneficial to those who attended, and a great way (due to the pressure) to improve as a teacher.
    In the end, though, I found that (in part because I had focused on technique for a few years) I could include the technique in regular workshops and classes, so didn't need to create a special place for it.
    Franck.

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    Formerly known as DavidJames David Bailey's Avatar
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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by Franck View Post
    Let us know how it goes, I love this idea, and it reminds me of the 'focus workshops' I ran regularly. Really beneficial to those who attended, and a great way (due to the pressure) to improve as a teacher.
    In the end, though, I found that (in part because I had focused on technique for a few years) I could include the technique in regular workshops and classes, so didn't need to create a special place for it.
    The downside of the approach, which was clear on Monday, was that when we did introduce the footwork component, people were far less proficient at that aspect.

    So at some point I'll need to revisit the footwork side of things - in fact, we've sacrificed a lot of technique in terms of foot placement, collection, dissociation and so on, in favour of pure lead-and-follow.

    I think that's the right way to go, because to me the lead-and-follow aspect is paramount; if you don't get that working first and foremost, you'll be permanently hampered with the dance.

    There's no shortcuts, it's simply a different way to climb the mountain. But some ways are better than others

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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bailey View Post
    The downside of the approach, which was clear on Monday, was that when we did introduce the footwork component, people were far less proficient at that aspect.

    So at some point I'll need to revisit the footwork side of things - in fact, we've sacrificed a lot of technique in terms of foot placement, collection, dissociation and so on, in favour of pure lead-and-follow.

    I think that's the right way to go, because to me the lead-and-follow aspect is paramount; if you don't get that working first and foremost, you'll be permanently hampered with the dance.

    There's no shortcuts, it's simply a different way to climb the mountain. But some ways are better than others
    Good point, and I have found, that whilst Connection, lead & follow are crucial, you cannot ignore the 'muscle memory' side of things, which is why using moves that allow for repeated practise of the same pattern works as a teaching tool.
    Finding the balance between repeated patterns to develop muscle memory and natural movement and getting the connection / lead & follow right, is the tricky part!
    Franck.

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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by Franck View Post
    I wonder if attitudes have changed?

    I think it is important to distinguish between classes and workshops

    Workshops normally have a specific theme "what is written on the packet, should be in the packet"
    eg if a workshop is advertised as " staying in the slot " I would expect it to concentrate many on technique
    but if was promoted as "advance drops" I would expect it to concentration on moves

    Class are different

    IMHO. We, the guys who are paying, want just two things
    first and foremost, having had a busy day, we want a fun night out
    secondly the name "class" implies we want to learn something

    We are not too bothered what we learn, but the lesson must be fun
    With MJ there is an awful lot to learn
    A Regular teacher should know what elements are missing or need improving in our dancing
    and it is up to him, or her, to incorporate those elements in the lesson

    Frank , I have only been to a few of your lessons, but you are very good at mixing technique and moves, to produce a fun and memorable experiance
    Last edited by philsmove; 1st-February-2012 at 07:27 PM.

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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bailey View Post
    At the moment, I've just launched a weekly Tango night, and I'm experimenting with a slightly different approach to teaching at this night. Basically, I'm not teaching any sequences, I'm simply teaching technique first and then throwing in a demonstration at the end to say "this is how you can do it, if you want."
    I'm not 100% sure what you mean by this but, regardless, if by the end of a class I am not able to dance what I have been taught, no matter how simple (we did 3 weeks of walking when I started tango), then that class has not fulfilled its function, i.e. taught me to dance. It might have taught me all manner of wonderful technique, but if I cannot then go off to the big bad dancefloor and actually use that technique, it might as well have been an hour-long lecture of the politics of Donald Duck. Same goes for a routine/pattern that doesn't loop, and requires an awkward shuffle to get back to the beginning.

    The best dance teachers are the ones who can teach you a lot of useful technique that stands you in good stead for later advancements, while teaching you basic moves to get you dancing. It doesn't even have to be a separate section of the class ("now let's look at the technique we'll be using"), just comments on the moves as they are taught - albeit this is more true for MJ than for tango where a solid basis in technique is essential.

    The format our current tango teacher uses for beginner classes, which works pretty well, is starting with 15-20 mins of basic technique and no moves, then a middle section of simple movements (not really moves) with the technique being refreshed along the way, and then the last 20-30 mins of learning the moves, using the technique we've just spent 40 minutes learning.

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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    I think having at least a basic set / language of moves is very useful, even if it's just the "Beginners' Moves".

    For instance in a Musicality workshop, one could imagine showing ways to vary a First Move, for instance, in a way that would fit the music.

    But if everyone in the room knows the First Move to start with, it must be far easier to teach variations to it.
    Love dance, will travel

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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by CheesyRobMan View Post
    I'm not 100% sure what you mean by this
    To be fair, neither am I - I'm making it up as I go along

    (To be even more fair, so are all teachers, I'm just a bit more transparent about the process)

    But basically, each class is based on a theme - for example, "stability", "connection", or "dissociation" - and I then just develop movements which will illustrate the theme. The idea is to get students to grasp and use the technique in their dancing generally, rather than to get them "letter-perfect" on a particular sequence of movements.

    So, in my giro example, people weren't always doing the sequence well in terms of footwork, but they were leading and following it improvisationally, and integrating that within their dancing. Obviously, at some point I need to get the footwork up to scratch also - probably with a "dissociation" theme - but I'm just getting the concept done first.

    As I said, it's a bit of an experiment, and we'll see how it goes.

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    Re: Technique or Moves for workshops & Classes

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bailey View Post
    To be fair, neither am I - I'm making it up as I go along

    (To be even more fair, so are all teachers, I'm just a bit more transparent about the process)

    But basically, each class is based on a theme - for example, "stability", "connection", or "dissociation" - and I then just develop movements which will illustrate the theme. The idea is to get students to grasp and use the technique in their dancing generally, rather than to get them "letter-perfect" on a particular sequence of movements.

    So, in my giro example, people weren't always doing the sequence well in terms of footwork, but they were leading and following it improvisationally, and integrating that within their dancing. Obviously, at some point I need to get the footwork up to scratch also - probably with a "dissociation" theme - but I'm just getting the concept done first.

    As I said, it's a bit of an experiment, and we'll see how it goes.
    As an experienced dancer, I would prefer this method of teaching. However, I think as a beginner I would have found it frustrating as I would be expecting to see results sooner and be comfortable in freestyle dancing. Having said that, I wouldn't expect the same method of progress with Tango and Modern Jive. I would expect to spend more time on technique as a beginner Tango dancer, and not to be so comfortable in freestyle dancing.

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