Teaching to children – a huge responsibility
Being a teacher is not an easy job, especially when you have in front of you very young students. Not only you have the possibility to educate and grow a new generation of dancers, but if you’re teaching to children you also have in your hands their future in dancing.
The way you give them information, the way you prepare them to be competitors and how you teach them to face victory or defeat will influence them. Will they love or hate dancesport?
Every child is unique
Unfortunately (or not), there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, especially when teaching to children. There is no overall, general truth that can work in every circumstance, on every student. The teacher’s role is to analyze each case individually, adapting his approach as needed.
When you’re part of a kid’s everyday life, you understand their reactions and know how to guide them. When teaching to children you come to realize how they act under pressure, when they lose concentration, you know when to push them further and when they need to be motivated.
Put yourself in their shoes
We’re biased because we see things only from our own perspective. The same can happen when we’re teaching. We usually tend to have a selective view of what’s going on and what should be done only based on our own experience and perception. What if just for a moment we stop and think “how does my student feel right now?”.
Sometimes, even without realizing it, we create a situation of stress and anxiety in the student’s mind. Like when a kid can’t answer a question, and the more we keep asking, the more he feels blocked and trapped.
Also, students keep mistaking a step over and over again simply because we don’t give them enough time to realize what is happening. Sometimes we should just let them solve the problem by themselves. The truth is that children don’t realize when to ask for more time to understand the information that they have just received. It’s up to the teacher to catch those signals and to adapt the speed and the pressure of the teaching process.
Predict the student’s reaction
An approach that can be useful in many different cases is to know ahead what reaction we want from our student and modify the way we teach in order to get exactly what we need.
It may sound cynic, but a good trainer always knows what’s the best path for his or her couples and what should be done in order to get to the destination in the most efficient way. So, we shouldn’t be afraid to adapt our teaching method, based on what our kids need the most in that specific moment.
If in one week they are going to compete at an important event and they need to be ready to show their best performance, we can’t work in the same way like we do when we’re just giving them technical information about a group of steps. The teacher has to fill the experience gap that differentiates a young dancer from an adult until they are able to manage every situation by themselves.
When to be soft and when to be tough
The more you teach, the more you can tell exactly what your student needs in a specific situation and you can predict their behavior. That, together with the goals you need to reach, will guide your teaching approach.
Here I will try to give some examples of methods you may want to use in different kind of situations:
- Completely newbie children that are starting to have their first classes or private lessons: be always positive, don’t focus too much on mistakes and if sometimes they get stuck in some steps, try to keep going and work on something else.
- Partners of different levels: if the boy is a beginner and starts dancing with a girl that is more advanced, or the other way round, be patient and be careful not to frustrate the less experienced partner. If needed, take him or her alone on private lessons so they can catch up. Motivate them and keep giving information fast enough, because being in a partnership with a more experienced dancer will make the other one improve much faster.
- One month before an important competition, it’s needed to improve the overall performance level: be tough, don’t go over mistakes, keep them focused, shape the strong competitive mindset. Don’t worry, they will not break under pressure because they see the goal, they know it’s for a reason.
- During stamina training: no excuses here…Be tough, don’t give them any possibility to complain about uncomfortable steps or any mistakes. Make sure they are always focused, ready to give their maximum. With children, many times you can get very good results by just bringing up their “adrenaline” level.
- The last lesson before a competition: the main word is “positive”. Everything should be fine, there is no time now to start working on difficult movements or get them to take in difficult concepts. Do a quick check on every dance and let them be sure and confident of themselves.
After all, only through your instinct and your experience you can react as needed in any circumstance. Teaching to children, one of the best feelings that you can get is when you are able to bring a kid from zero to success. Nevertheless, teaching to children is also one of the most challenging aspects of dancesport, yet one of the most beautiful and rewarding.
If you want to find out more about what to keep in mind when starting a dance lesson you can click here.
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Maintaining The Core Principles & The Development Of Dancesport
Development of dancesport
In dancesport, as in any other sport, there are adjustments in the procedures and regulations that have the purpose of developing and keeping this sport evolving. There might be changes in the Federations, modifications in the ways adjudicators mark the dancers, different rules for costumes and routines or innovative ideas for the future of the sport.
Furthermore, as in any other form of art, in dancesport as well there are trends and currents that make an impact on the way dancers express themselves through their routines and movements. These trends come without doubt from the social environment. For example, in the ’60s, the ballroom and latin routines were more conservative let’s say. But so was society. Nowadays people express themselves more freely; the rhythm of life is much faster. And so is the rhythm in dancing.
Nevertheless, if we wish dancesport to maintain its identity, we should always keep in mind the core principles and the roots of this beautiful sport and art form. No matter if we are active competitive dancers, teachers, officials, adjudicators or dance enthusiasts.
In a thought-provoking interview we had with Espen Salberg at the 2018 Blackpool Dance Festival, we tackled some important aspects like what he values at a dance couple or the evolution of dancesport.
Value of partnering
Dancesport is a style of dancing that is done in a holding position, thus the partnering skills are essential in order to create a harmonious dance.
Dancing together requires certain chemistry between the two dancers. As Espen said, dancing should be a conversation, a “question and answer situation”. This is obtained through a coherent choreography, leading & following ability and technique. You should see the dance actions being attuned and the bodyweight used in the right manner.
A very big topic of discussion in our world is the “lead & follow” subject. In dancesport, the man should be the leader and the woman should follow; the man gives the action and the woman has the reaction. Espen encourages men to actually be in charge of the situation and to command the right way.
Espen confessed that he loves beauty. And what else are the ladies of ballroom & latin but a true depiction of beauty?
Nonetheless, it does not matter how superb the lady is with her hair, make-up, and dress. As long as her footwork is not impeccable, everything is for nothing. For Espen, beautiful leg actions are crucial in dancesport.
Joy of dancing
Let’s not forget that the reason we all dance is because it makes us feel good. This is the way we express ourselves. We love the music, the movement, the emotions, the show, our partners, the crowd and the other competitors.
As Espen puts it, dancers come in on the floor with sheer pleasure and they fill the room. In the end, we wouldn’t want to see a dancer that looks that he or she doesn’t want to be there.
The future of dancesport
Having in mind these values, we also need to think about where dancesport is going. What trends should we follow and which ones should we ignore? What’s for sure is that there should be a balance between slow & fast, traditional & innovative, artistic & athletic.
If you want to watch the whole interview and find out more about Espen Salberg’s vision and career, click here.
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How It Feels Like To Win A World Title
A World title – an athlete’s dream
As athletes, dancers go to competitions and give their best on the dance floor for different reasons. Some wish just to get through the next round, some wish to get into the final. But the happiness you feel in your heart when you win the first place is incomparable. And let’s be honest, all of us dreamt (or are still dreaming) of being on the very top. By “the very top” I am thinking about the World title of course .
In our interview with Paul Moldovan and Cristina Tatar we talked about the memory they cherish the most from their career: winning the WDSF Youth World Championship in 2012, Beijing.
Competing in important competitions such as World Championships you must not only be 100% physically prepared, but your mindset has to be also very powerful.
Cristina told us in the interview that she felt strong from the moment she woke up on the day of the competition. She confessed that she was feeling like an alien or like a robot – definitely something out of this world.
Paul confirms that on a day like this you should feel mentally prepared just like fighters feel before combat. If that isn’t a true winner’s mentality, then I don’t know what it is! The key is to remain focused the whole day, even during the warm-ups or the first rounds.
Emotions of a champ
Winning a World title is a huge honor as it represents the moment when all your hard work, sacrifices and talent are recognized. Baring that in mind, you can only imagine how emotional it must be to find out that you are the new World Champion.
Here’s how it went for Paul & Cristina:
Cristina: The peak was when we were waiting for the results and the guy with the paper was coming, trying to hide them. He was really just next to me and all the crowd came and people were squeezing me and I just saw the results because I was so close to him. I saw that we were in the 1st place and in my mind I couldn’t believe it. I knew that we could really win, but when I saw it I was trying to get excited but then I was saying to myself “Oh no no, calm down, wait, what if it’s not like that?”. I turned around and I think it was Paul or our coach and I just turned and said: “I think we won!”. We waited and when they announced us it was such a great feeling. Especially because people were thinking that no one from Romania could ever win a World title. But we were the first ones to do it. Even now when I remember I am getting goosebumps. Then when we climbed on the highest step of the podium the emotions grew even bigger. Finally, when they put the Romanian national anthem on my tears just starting to fall off.
Paul: When I saw the result I remember I shouted. But remember, we were in China and the hall was really quiet – no music, nobody was dancing, people were just sitting down. And then there was me shouting! Our coach came to us and asked us what’s wrong and I just said “We won! Check the list – we won!”. We hugged, we jumped, but we also said: “Let’s wait!”. Even now when I am thinking about the moment I can relive those emotions.
Lessons to learn from them
Listening to this story, every dancer should understand that a World title comes only after a lot of work and dedication. Competing in such a championship requires a lot of emotional and mental strength. And finally, once you win, you’ll feel a warmth in your heart and honor, but at the same time, you remain humble.
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Reactions From The First WDSF Grand Slam Of The Year: DanceMasters 2019
Dancesport Life was there!
The first Grand Slam of the year is a really important event as it determines the tone for the new season of competitions. It sets a new Grand Slam Ranking that will bring the top 12 couples to the Shanghai Grand Slam Finals on 7-8 December 2019.
The Dancesport Life team was present at this historical event seeing that it was the first Grand Slam ever organized by Romania. We were truly impressed by the quality and enthusiasm of the dancers and by the dedication of the DanceMasters organizers.
If you want to see us interviewing some of the top 12 WDSF couples make sure to subscribe on our YouTube channel as we are going to post the interviews there soon.
First impressions from the Grand Slam DanceMasters 2019
We were super curious to see how did the dancers (and not only) feel about one of the most important events of the year. What better way to do that than to ask them directly?!
New winners in Standard
There was a new scenario in the Standard, on Saturday, where for the first time after the long-reigning period of Dmitry Zharkov and Olga Kulikova winning 20 Grand Slam titles, judges had to choose their successors. All the expectations, of course, were on Evaldas Sodeika and Ieva Zukauskaite (LTU). They won their first Grand Slam title of their career with 3,546 points of difference from the runners-up Francesco Galuppo and Debora Pacini (ITA). It must be underlined that Evaldas and Ieva received four “10.0” and six “9.75” in Slow Foxtrot in the Final. That’s impressive!
Things were heated in Latin
In Latin American instead, as in 2018, the fight between the top two couples Tsaturyan – Gudyno and Balan – Moshenska continued. The results were really unpredictable until the very end. In the Final, they were equal in Rumba and only 0,041 apart in Jive. But at the end, Armen Tsaturyan and Svetlana Gudyno (RUS) won by only 1,122 points away from Marius-Andrei Balan and Khrystyna Moshenska (GER).
The venue and the organization
The competition has been held in the Sala Polivalenta, a 5300+ seats hall, just a few kilometers from the center of Bucharest, Romania. When you enter the building, you don’t see immediately the floor, because you are in the area behind the tribunes. There, you can find all the dancesport-related shops, some cafes and some food providers. The changing rooms for the athletes are downstairs, so is the warm-up floor and the main dancing floor.
All around the dance floor organizers placed evening-gala tables with catering service that perfectly recreated the warm atmosphere of an elegant ballroom hall. It was great because it filled the gap between the dancers and the spectators from the tribunes. As the evening session started at 19:30, the seats on both sides of the hall were full and all the tables were occupied.
P.S. Hopefully the music next year will be just as good as in the first round ”
At least we were very appropriate to dance”
Here are some numbers
- 167 couples
- 26 countries
- 3 continents
- 2 days
- 10 rounds
- 2 re-dances
- 54 dances
- 36 solo dances
- 442 m2 floor (26×17)
- 34.100 € total prize money
My opinion is that, while there’s always room for improvement, it was such a great event overall. Sunday night I left with such happiness in my heart and such a fulfillment. I would have hugged everyone. I wanted to go and hug all the dancers and thank them for what they did on the dancefloor. And the organizers too, for their great effort and the success of this year’s DanceMasters … and the WDSF representatives.”
We hope you enjoyed this year’s edition of the DanceMasters Bucharest Grand Slam. And if you weren’t present this year, make sure to come in 2020!
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