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Teaching To Children: When To Be Soft and When To Be Tough

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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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NEWS

The Blackpool Dance Festival Fever

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Blackpool Dance Festival – a historical event

If you are a dancer, for sure you’ve heard about the Blackpool Dance Festival as the most important competition of the year. It’s the goal of every couple to compete there. What makes Blackpool Dance Festival special and why dancers treat it different than other competitions? Because it’s the event that can change your career.

However, if you don’t know much about this historical event, the Blackpool Dance Festival is hosted in the historical Empress Ballroom in the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, England. The very first edition was in 1920. If you want to hear more about the history and what is happening around the Winter Gardens we wrote another article about our experience from last year here.

The preparations

For many, Blackpool Dance Festival is the main event of the year and all the efforts go into preparing for this comp. The hard training sessions that you go through even up until a few days before the Festival starts are the recurrent dream and nightmare of the last days before the first round.

The music

The first sign of the Blackpool fever starts from February when the dancers will start to practice only on songs from the Empress Orchestra. It seems like they almost lost their other songs from their practice playlist and they dance only to Samba de la Torre, Kiss of fire, Scheherazade, or for the ballroom ones: Waltz for Lily and Dokman Tango.

In truth, practicing on these songs actually helps to create the right mindset and visualize yourselves on the Empress Ballroom dance floor. You can checks some of our other article on “How to Practice with a Vision” and “Mental Training”.

The looks

The second stage is all about the looks. The ladies getting into their form and the men working hard to get their best body. And new hairstyles are always a good idea.

The dress designers are having meetings after meetings with the dancers in order to create new costumes. Each year thousands of dresses fly on that floor, but you can’t find two identical. But no matter how early you start planning to make the new design and to create it, you will always get the costume in the last moment possible. Keeping the stress-level high enough is a tradition for this event.

The focus

Nevertheless, the highest pick of stress, anyway, will be on the last day before your first round. No matter how experienced you are or how well you organized all in the details of the trip. The day before is always giving you tension.

Everyone will experience this pressure differently, but the emotions will be there nonetheless. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Tension makes you focused and it prepares your mind to perform at your best. Before going on the floor be confident on the work you’ve done, on the hours spent on the dance floor, on yourself and your partner. Only positive vibes. It’s all you need to enjoy this comp and to express your best.

A historical moment in your career

This event will put a mark on your career and on how you perceive competitions. It might be the Empress Ballroom with its magnificence, or it might be the fact that the Blackpool Dance Festival is the most historical ballroom event counting its 94th edition this year. Certainly can be because you have watched so many videos from the past champions dancing on that same floor where you are about to dance.

Each and every one of us has a different reason why the Blackpool Festival is wrapped in this surreal aura. But what we surely can say is that all over the world, in May, dancers and teachers have the Blackpool fever.

 

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Is Dancesport An Individual Sport Or A Team Sport?

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Dancesport, besides being a form of art, is also very athletic and it is also considered a sport. Generally, sports have been divided into two main categories:

  • Team sports
  • Individual sports

Because they are two different categories, they also shape you in different ways and teaches you different things in relation to yourself and with others.

Individual sports

They place you face to face with the reality of the competition. Only you can affect your performance and your result in a positive or in a negative way. Then, when you compete, you cannot count on the help or support of anybody else. There’s only you on the field, with your strength and your fears. What they teach you is that you have to rely only on yourself and be confident.

The peak of individual sports is that you don’t have to split the victory with anybody else. It’s you that wins and only you that loses.

Team sports

They are all about learning how to work as a team – several people discovering how to work together. They teach you how to position yourself with the other members of the team. You have to determine how to work with the others in any circumstances.

Most importantly, you have to learn to accept others’ mistakes – how to lose even if you played good. But one of the best parts is that you can count on the help of your mates and sometimes you win even if you didn’t perform at your 100%.

Dancesport – individual & team sport

Then in which category do we put dancesport? The competition is between couples, so we have to consider them as individual players competing against each other, but a couple is made of two athletes. So would you define dancesport as an individual or a team sport? What if it is both at the same time?

Why a team sport?

Definitely, you can say that dancesport is a team sport. First of all, there are two people trying work as one and the connection between the two partners is crucial in dancing. Everything needs to be in harmony and whatever one partner does, will affect more or less the other. If you make a mistake or do not perform at your best, the other half of the “team” can’t show their best.

Nevertheless, same as in any other team sport, you learn to accept and work with your partner as they are. Along with your coach, you decide what are your strengths and weaknesses and use them strategically. Furthermore, at the base of the partnership should be faith and support. You should believe in each other.

Why an individual sport?

At the same time though, dancing is so much individual. It is you on the floor. As dancing is a sport, you need to have the right technique, you need to be in shape, and take care of your diet. Nobody is going to do it for you – not your partner and certainly not your trainers.

Furthermore, being also a form of art, in dancing, you need to perform for the audience and engage with them. You need to translate the emotions you get from the music and your partner into your own movement. This is what will differentiate you among the other couples. You must be unique and together with your partner, your couple will be recognizable.

Dancesport shapes you as an athlete and as a person like no other sport. It is such a particular situation where two people become one unit, still being individuals inside it.

 

Also, make sure you check 4 Aspects of Dancesport Which You Won’t Find In Other Sports

 

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What Dancesport Training Camps Should You Go To?

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One of the most important parts of the life of dancers is the preparation before a competition. Usually, before a busy season of competitions, there are several camps organized by great dancers or clubs. The role of camps is to help you develop into a better dancer through mastering the technique and learn key principles of dancing from the best teachers.

We have already discussed the topic of training camps in another article here, but this time we simply want to point out some of the best camps from the WDC and WDSF worlds.

1. THE CAMP – Wuppertal, Germany

Most of us dancers search for lectures online. In your searches is impossible not to stumble upon some lectures from THE CAMP – Wuppertal. But, what makes this camp so great?

First of all, it has some of the great teachers from the industry and the location – The Historical Town Hall – is absolutely stunning. Everything is so well thought and the purpose is to leave Wuppertal inspired and focused.

Here is the teachers’ list of the 2019 edition that has just ended:

What Dancesport Training Camps Should You Go To?

To keep a close eye on the next year’s event make sure you visit their website or Facebook Page

2. Dancing Superstars Festival – Bremen

In 2019 the Dancing Superstars Festival will be at its 6th edition and it is announced better than ever. The coaches that will hold the workshops are some of the biggest legends: Slavik Kryklyvyy, Catia Vanone, Fabio Selmi, or Julie Fryer just to name a few.

Here you can see the full list of coaches and apply for the Congress that will happen between 31st of May and 2nd of June. And a small hint from us, don’t miss out on the Galaball on June 1st. You’ll witness some outstanding shows from great dancers in a glamorous ambiance with a live orchestra.

3. Summer Dancecamp – Denmark

What’s a summer without a dance camp? Well, the perfect one would be the Summer Dancecamp. Why is it perfect? They are, as they state on their website a “dance camp independent of federations, dance schools, clubs and organisations – everyone is welcome regardless of affiliation”.

World Champions Kristina and Peter Stokkebroe and Frank Høgh are on their 8th year of organizing this camp for every dancer of any level to come and learn from the best. For us, it sounds like the perfect environment where every dancer will feel welcomed.

This year the camp is going to take place between 7th – 12th July, so make sure you sign up here.

4. Edita Daniute International Training Camp – Trakai

Happening in Lithuania between 14th and 21st of July, this camp organized by Edita Daniute – one of the best names from the ballroom world – is meant to develop all the aspects of a ballroom dancer. You will have morning jogging, aerobics & stretching, lectures and stamina practice.

Coaches: Edita Daniute, Mirko Gozzoli, Fabio Selmi, Pietro Braga, Salvatore Todaro, Catia Vanone, Alexey Silde, Alessandro Firmo, Marek Chojnacki, Michele Bonsignori, Anastasia Titkova.

5. Team Vivo Latino with la Grande Orchestra Italiana – Italy

Between 19-21 July, in Italy, Team Vivo Latino is organizing the biggest International Training camp and competition in Southern Italy. The camp and the competition will be in Mariotto which is 30-40 minutes by car or transfer from the Bari-Palese airport.  

Team Vivo Latino camp has one of the best line-ups of coaches. Are these ringing a bell?

  • Hans Galke
  • Sergey & Melia
  • Paul Killick
  • Andrej & Melinda
  • Viktor Nikovskiy
  • David Yin
  • Goran Nordin
  • Jukka & Sirpa
  • Maurizio Vescovo
  • Joanna Leunis.

And this is not all! The highlight of the event is going to be the “Jungle Pool Party” on the 20th July and the wonderful Grande Orchestra Italiana.

For updates make sure you follow Team Vivo Facebook or the organizer’s Instagram.

6. S&F Camp – Moscow

S&F Camp is organized by Alexey Silde and Anna Firstova dedicated mostly to latin. It is held in the Crocus Expo usually at the beginning of January and the second time it’s at the end of August and lasts for 5-6 days. During these days, the schedule looks like this: in the morning you have stretching sessions, around 4 PM you’ll have general physical preparation and in the evening there are practice sessions.

7. ZK Camp – Moscow

The ZK Camp is organized by Dmitry Zharkov and Olga Kulikova and is dedicated only to standard dancers. Same as the S&F Camp, it is held in Moscow in the Crocus Expo. The first ZK Camp is at the beginning of January and the second time is in September and usually, it lasts 3-4 days.

The schedule of the day is divided into two parts: physical preparation and practice sessions in the evening. Also, there are separate groups for children up to Junior II and separate groups for Youth. In charge of these groups are the teachers’ assistants: Matteo del Gaone, Evgeny Nikitin and Anton Besedin.

8. International Championships Preparation Quality Camp – Warsaw

Is organized by Lukasz & Aleksandra Tomczak from 13th to the 16th September in Warsaw, Poland. As the name suggests this camp is dedicated for those who are preparing to give their best at the International Championship that will take place on the 8th of October 2019.

The full list of teachers will be announced soon, but for now here are some of the names: Lyn Marriner, Massimo Giorgianni, Greg Smith and of course Lukasz & Aleksandra Tomczak. If you want to book your place, you can write to Lukasz on his Facebook or Instagram.

9. Mabo Training Camp – Italy

During 19-22 September you can participate at the Mabo training camp and receive valuable insights from some of the biggest legends of the industry.

What Dancesport Training Camps Should You Go To?

For future details, you can check the website or simply write to  mabotrainingcamp@gmail.com

10. Transylvanian Grand Prix

Transylvanian Grand Prix is one of the most important dancesport events in Romania. Top WDSF couples from around the come and fight for a place in the finals. The best thing about this event is the Transylvanian Training Camp which brings teachers such as William Pino, Pietro Braga, Barbara Ambroz, Giordano Vanone, Colin James and many others.

For now, there are not many details about the 2019 schedule, but we are excited to see what the Transylvanian Grand Prix has installed for us. In the meantime, you can read more about the 2017 event, as we were happy to participate at it.

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