Category Archives: Learning Tips

Facing Fear

Ever since I’ve started rehab, I’ve learned to better empathize with our beginner students. I’ve been learning new things that appear easily attainable, but my body occasionally betrays me. I occasionally sweat more and can feel my brain overloading with an intense feeling of heat when learning challenging movements. I occasionally extrapolate to the worst possible scenario.

Even yesterday, I faced something I was afraid of – jumping to one box, then to the ground, then explosively up to another box. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t trust myself to explode from the ground. If I took my time and set myself, I could do it, but that wasn’t what my physical therapist demanded.

What I’m learning or, perhaps just reinforcing for myself, is that it’s okay to struggle and fail. Sometimes you need to break up your goals into smaller, more manageable, chunks to succeed later. And, as a teacher, I need to be cognizant that some students may need more time and personal attention (oh, and aircon!).

I Nearly Was Scammed


I nearly was scammed the other day.  Swingin’ Denver was contacted by a Patrick Wolf asking if we did private dance lessons and if we accepted credit cards as payment. There was something off about his punctuation and sentence structure, but people have gotten lazier in this internet age, so I treated him as a potential student giving him information about our rates and asking about his specific needs.

Here’s one of the sections that should have raised my red flags and that you can easily Google: “I just had an ear surgery and I have been advised to stay off the phone till i’m fully recovered . That is why I am contacting you via email for now.” Again, we run across people with special needs that don’t quite know what they’re getting themselves into when they ask about private lessons. And him thinking we’d be a good fitness service for his three girls… well,  we get odd requests.

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How do you conceptualize a swing or solo jazz step? How do you create, break down, picture what you’re doing in the moment? How do you bring your imagined ideal into reality or where it matches reality?

groovie-movieI think about these ideas when trying to break down figures and even when I’m performing in the moment. How does this look if someone was videotaping me from above? What path would my legs, my arms, my moving partner trace on the floor? Continue reading

Spiderman Philosophy

uncle-benI recently had a more experienced student get visibly frustrated with a newer student that wasn’t doing what they wanted, namely connecting as well as they would have liked. The solution I suggested? Taking responsibility for creating the connection that you want.

Knowledge = Power. With great power comes great responsibility. QED – With great(er) knowledge comes great(er) responsibility. See what I did there?

If you’re a beginner+ or higher student rejoining our beginner classes, use your knowledge for good. You were once a beginner, so please be kind. If you’re frustrated, try to use your words and be collaborative rather than damaging. If you don’t want to use your words, then try to figure out on your own how to get what you want on your own. Pushing, pulling, or yanking on your partner can also be hurtful and confusing. If you’re having trouble thinking what you should be doing, ask the teacher. Just please be responsible.



Deliberate Practice

This is me attempting a stride to pre(cision) challenge with a left footed takeoff. My strong side is with a right footed takeoff. I’ve always been better reaching and picking up my left leg. Sometimes my right leg is slow to snap (weak adominals, psoas?), so I favor a side.

This isn’t great for real life situations or for efficient movement. I want to be equally strong, so I set up a deliberate practice. I backed up, I marked off my steps and envisioned what I needed to do and then I executed. The first attempts weren’t great. The video version is ok, but I need to work on jumping further away.

Why do I bring this up? Learning to dance is a different skill for most of us. It helps to set up a deliberate practice by yourself or with a partner. What might that look like? Continue reading

Scattin’ Directions

dancing-traffic-compOne of the hardest things about training teachers is sharing all the things you do consciously and subconsciously. This blog is sometimes the closest I get to sharing this knowledge. It gives the time to think and verbally reflect.

This next topic is about rhythmically giving directions. It kills two birds with one stone. You keep the rhythm going and give proper direction.  Continue reading

Highlighting Students

I was thinking recently about why I bring students out to the center to demonstrate. Sometimes, like when I’m teaching an aerials workshop, it allows me to show how to spot and how a strong spotter can help carry an aerial through. Other times it allows me the chance to highlight an attribute I’ve been emphasizing and one couple is doing rather well. I can reinforce through a student and give them a chance to shine in the center. Continue reading

Helping You And Others Learn

As we get ready to kick off new May sessions, we wanted to bring up some important points about helping our new students learn and the best ways to give feedback!

– Firstly, it’s important to not jump ahead even when you already know the material. If we’re walking through the basics of a turn or new footwork, we want to make sure the new students are going at the same pace and not missing anything. Plus, you might pick up some new tidbits of information along the way! Continue reading