Thoughts on swing dancing and Lindy Hop, one word at a time…

Running a College Workshop

Overview

This past weekend I was one of the organizers for a Lindy and Blues workshop held at Penn State (The Pennsylvania State University). It consisted of a weclome dance on Friday, four hours of blues instruction with a dance on Saturday, and four hours of lindy instruction on Sunday. I was happy seeing everyone learning and having a good time, however by the end on Sunday, exhaustion set in.

Mike Legett and Reuel Reis

Mike Legett and Reuel Reis

One of the key elements that allowed the event to run smoothly was having Mike “The Girl” Legett and Reuel Reis as the instructors. What I liked about their teaching is they used ‘moves’ (which keep the newbies entertained) to convey concepts (which is something that benefits dancers of all levels). I have been in too many workshops where it has seemed teachers were pulling random moves out of a hat that had nothing to do with each other.

However the more important factor is they both gave the impression that they genuinely cared about their students learning. During the breaks in classes, they helped out students with questions and issues they had.

The only complaint I could have, would be that Reuel taught screwballs (suzie-Qs with toes pointed up). But as a vintage clip snob, that is more a personal opinion.

Things That Went Well

  • We booked the rooms with extra time on top of setup/take down for the classes, in case if people were late/classes ran over. Worked out well, so we weren’t tearing down frantically like we had to for the Kobby (Bobby and Kate) Balboa Workshops.
  • Classes for the most part were balanced, we did have a slight imbalance for the first Blues class on Saturday but it evened out. However in the future registration should be watched more carefully to prevent horrible imbalances.
  • For the most part it seems everyone was getting something out of the material taught. I learned as a follow to engage my right shoulder muscles so my arm doesn’t get ripped out of its socket by over-enthusiastic newbie leads.

Things that Can Be Improved

  • We didn’t designate who was in charge of take-down and setup for the dances and the Sunday workshop. That needs to be addressed in the future for having everything running smoothly. Perhaps a detailed list of responsibilities is in order for the future.
  • Need to buy portable lighting for the club. We had people playing with the lights during the blues dance because apparently some people need it “pitch dark” to dance blues whereas some people like bright lights. [1]
  • We have always had the issue with people showing up late to the first workshop. Mike told me of a policy some workshops run that if people are late to classes they are not admitted to the workshop until the next class in order not to make the class more difficult for those who did show up on time. I may consider this for the future.
  • Need to list more details on the website in the future so it lists more relevant information. That way we do not get flooded with emails.

[1]  One thing that happened during the weekend that legitimately annoyed me was people who were not organizing started playing with the lights. Its downright disrespectful and if I wasn’t so tired that night, I would have verbally reamed out the responsible parties.

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