So this past Wednesday I put myself back in the seat of the “first time student” by taking a hip-hop class, a dance style I have never tried before.
After waiting for my friends, Verionica who usually does this and Logan who was taking his first dance lesson ever outside of the studio, we walked in. It was slightly intimidating walking into a studio that focused more traditional forms of dance. Windows displayed ballet and modern dancers younger then myself, who had a quality of movement I could only hope to achieve. After paying for the class, my friends and I walked in the room and found an assortment of people taking this Hip Hop class.
Shortly after, the instructor as the sheet described him, “The ‘Legendary’ Cu” walked in and gave a short description of the class. Unknowingly my friend and I came in on the second week of a two week series. In result, the warmup was skipped so we could play catch-up. During the class we learned choreography to the song “Love, Sex and Magic” by Ciara featuring Justin Timberlake which went at a pace that was great for me. Cu was a great teacher and I will probably use a future post to go over his teaching methods, which made the class a great learning environment for Logan and myself who were taking Hip-Hop for the first time. Cu also commented to both of us at the end of the class that we both did a good job. Unkwoingly to us, it was not a complete beginner hip hop class but more a beginner/intermediate level. Afterwards Logan was asking Veronica and myself if either of us were watching to see how he did. We both agreed we were trying to focus more on ourselves, then anyone else in the class.
First Time Students’ Experiences
So for organizers who run a scene and trying to attract new dancers or teachers who are teaching absolute beginner lessons, these are the two things I gleaned from going through the first lesson experience again.
- New students feel much more comfortable going to classes with familiar people such as friends, or even being an acquaintance with someone in the class.
- Many people come into classes with fears that the material will be difficult for them to learn and can often get self-conscious about how they are doing (especially with partner dancing). A friendly, encouraging teacher goes a long way to create a shift in mentality for students and relax them.
For organizers this means for your beginners classes, first make sure to have a teacher who is friendly and encouraging. Often this first class is the difference between having a new dancer or possibly having someone spread a bad reputation about your dance venue. Also try to create a way that it benefits people attend your classes in a group, or create an insentive for current members/dancers at your venues to bring in friends with them.
For teachers this means when working with beginners make sure to be positive, encouraging, and friendly. Most people are taking their first dance class to have fun and as a social outlet, it is important to keep this in mind.