Coming to Portugal, I lost a part of my identity by leaving behind my dance studies and my HipHop crew. It was soon obvious, that while there is a really good ballet academy 2 minutes from my apartment (which I soon joined to keep up with ballet. RAD class award this summer =)), there is NO HipHop community here at all. Well, not that I expected that. I’m in a mountain village, it would have been a wonder 😀
From The beginning on I was supposed to teach youngsters here in my EVS, which would have at least keep me connected to HipHop in general, even when without input from the outside, but due to simply no room available at the right hours, it was impossible.
A few days before Christmas I got the opportunity to teach 60min workshops for a few classes together (usually too many) on the last day before the holidays. Obviously I jumped to the opportunity, developed a choreography (ThriftShop) and had a lot of fun. It was soon obvious that the kids loved it – a lot of adults watched too. So as soon as I returned from Germany after the New Year, someone had been able to find a room. And off we went 😀 Only my project’s kids are allowed to participate, although I got many requests from kids from the school. The inscription list was full fast so I even had to consider if I can take new students in because the room is not that big. AND of course without a mirror. But so far not every student can come every time (the project is during their free time, at that time of the day they are waiting for their bus, but sometimes they have extra classes or get picked up by parents), so I don’t think I have to worry much about that.
Anyway. We started. And I was soon amazed how much talent there is! =) Who expected that, from students who never danced before?! I can even do a lot of technique with them, no complaining … Language barriers? Nah … My Portuguese is already on a level where I can usually communicate without problems, it’s way easier to teach in Portuguese than I had thought.
But back to topic. I actually wanted to talk about teaching without a mirror and teaching in general today 😀
I had thought it would be SO difficult without a mirror. And of course, for them some correction is missing and they can’t control their own movements in the mirror (“Is my arm straight?”), but apart from that? Nearly no problems =)
I had taught classes earlier already, but only for substituting or as a workshop, this was my first ever regular group. So before starting I thought quite some time about how I want to teach, what I don’t want, in which way I want to encourage them, etc. I liked the structure of my trainer in Germany, but there were some things I didn’t like and also a certain time restriction (45 instead of 90minutes n sometimes longer with my crew…). I especially disliked that her students depended on her SO much. She danced with them 95% of the time, so if they were asked to dance without her, they usually failed totally – apart from a few, who had a good memory for choreography and a good feeling for rhythm etc. I was sure that this does not have to be like this. Studying dance, I got used to teachers showing something until everyone had understood the movement, showing it again next class, maybe a 3rd at max and then we were on our own. Talking about daily classes of course.
So I experimented. Also, because without a mirror I won’t be able to watch their progress at all if I can’t turn around. So from week 1, after showing some simple basic steps and a few repetitions, I turned around and mirrored their movements. After 2 runthroughs, I only marked. Then I stopped at all. And you know what? It worked extremely well!
Then I tried the same, but slower, with the choreography we started (we also started that one out very slow in general, as it’s not that easy).
The result of this? In week 3, I can go to the back of the room, and film them doing our choreography (~1min right now) – and the first few seconds were PERFECTLY SYNCHRONIZED, exact movements, nice timing, even with accents. Because that is something else I didn’t like with my teachers – we learned the movements to the music, but always just in “some way”. She was rarely exact about what and how we are going to do stuff. That left a lot of room for self development, which can be very nice – but unfortunately instead a lot of movements were very “wischi-waschi” (German term), which means like nothing exactly at all. Just a mess of arms and legs. Sometimes it was hard to even recognise the movement our trainer gave us. I personally believe, that even given exact movements with exact accents etc there is enough room to develop your own style. Ask 2 professional dancers to mirror a movement you do, and they will never look exactly the same. And how could they?! Every body and every mind is different.
So I’m really proud of my students and happy with the way I am teaching now. It’s exactly what I always missed. Still, sometimes a mirror would be great, a bigger room would be great, definitely regular coming students would be great (we’ll have to see, this week due to some school activities most were missing, the 3 weeks before it was way better), and more than 45min would definitely be great. Nothing is ever perfect 😉
But so far it’s great and I’m happy to do it. As a last thing, I’ll share my playlist for the class. I don’t use every song in every class, but this is the playlist I used for the past 4 weeks – the choreography is to Dark Horse btw 😉
Warm-Up / Technique:
Chris Brown – Turn Up The Music
Mr Probz – Waves (Robin Schulz Radio Edit)
Kendrick Lamar – Swimming Pools (Drank)
Missy Elliot – Wake Up
Nico and Vinz – Am I Wrong
Mind Da Gap – Guerreiros
Sam The Kid – O povo unido…
Beyoncé – Lose My Breath
Katy Perry – Dark Horse (feat. Juicy J)
Mind Da Gap – Aqui Nos Mantemos
The Black Eyed Peas – Where Is The Love?
*The title is a song from Kendrick Lamar. Definitely go check him out 😉