Pet Peeve: Mediocre Dancers

What makes a great dancer great is their constant quest for self-improvement, their desire to push the limits of their dancing. I believe that awareness of or searches for weakness and a constant desire to learn and improve are hallmarks of a dedicated dancer. Knowledge of strengths and abilities are important to having fun on the dance floor and putting on a show for others, but I believe that it is a focus on weaknesses that helps a person realize their dancing potential.

Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Note: Perhaps I sound like a jerk in this article. Admittedly I am judgmental and sometimes have an inflated ego, but I hope that tough love and constructive criticism is a good thing.

Every dancer will reach plateaus, where some fault or choice they make in their dancing limits them from further progression and stifles their dancing in some way. The trick is dancing self-awareness and constant inquiry into one’s limits or seeking of feedback from others to break free of these technique plateaus. Spending time at these plateau levels can help with confidence and move repertoire on the dance floor, but I don’t think that it will make your dancing feel any better and I don’t think that it makes you a much better dancer.

It bothers me when people stay at these plateaus for so long, that they forget that they are only a tiny way up the mountain (terrible metaphor, sorry folks, and no refunds). I don’t like it when dancers who stopped trying to push their dance technique forward feel entitled/cocky/superior based solely on the amount of time they have been dancing for or the amount of moves they can do. I find that these people can be too quick to correct others, unwilling to learn new things, annoying to work with in dance classes, and not great at teaching others the dance.

Am I saying that I hate dancers who aren’t good? No! I prefer dancing with an eager beginner than with a cocky mediocre dancer. I have a little personal saying “I like intermediate dancers, but hate mediocre dancers”. But Kevin, you say, what is the difference between intermediate and mediocre dancers? Intermediate dancers are going somewhere, they are so called in reference to other levels (i.e. beginner and advanced). It is another way of saying “somewhere in the middle of the journey” to being good. But if you aren’t going anywhere, if you have no destination in mind, you aren’t intermediate, just mediocre.

The Moral of the Story: You shouldn’t expect others to put up with your consistent bad dance habits because you are cocky or unmotivated, but conversely if you are trying your best to learn the dance and be a good social dance partner, don’t let the quality of your dancing make you self-conscious. There’s probably some parable about the tortoise and the hare or the little engine that could that best illustrates this.

The Moral of the Story Part Two: Dancers, examine your own dancing, try to improve yourselves, ask yourself what the great dancers are doing that you aren’t. Don’t rest on your laurels just because you are better than the beginners. People get better at dancing through effort passion and (sometimes) sacrifice.

– Your (Somewhat) Friendly Neighbourhood Kevin Temple

NOTE: Kevin is not a particularly good dancer, but he tries.

29 Comments

  1. Alisha

    Hey Kev…good distinctions…however, I think it’s important to remember that some people stay mediocre simply because they are not looking to improve because dance for them is not as intense of a hobby as it is for others. I can justify getting impatient if someone is mediocre and brags or is rude but not if they are mediocre simply because dance is not as high on their priority list as others.
    Being a person who loves to dance but who has limited means and discipline, I certainly can understand those who would want to simply make it a weekly outing but are not looking to move up in the ranks significantly – part of the nature of social dance is that you are contending with all kinds of priorities, people of different mobility, and income which affects how much you can improve.
    Let’s face it – most of the people I know who have gotten really good do so with determination but also because they have jobs that allow them to travel and experience dance in several different milieus – this freedom also feeds determination. It’s easier to be determined and focused when you don’t have to worry about paying bills, etc.

  2. Martha

    I’m going to have to agree with Alisha on this one. A dance scene is made up of all different kinds of people, who all have something to bring to the table. There are plenty of people who like the music and want to have the tools to be able to move to it, but once they are comfortable, that’s all they want. In many ways, it is these people that help maintain a scene; if everyone were to be hardcore into their progression, they would go to the limit of the scene and leave, which ultimately does not make the scene stronger as a whole.
    To me, dancing is about freedom and joy, and while sometimes it’s frustrating if people don’t progress the way you’d like them to, they’re free to do so. As Alisha said, without resources it’s hard to progress even if you want to; mentorship, discipline, finances, and the drive to improve are all. Many people LOVE dancing but dancing is not, or cannot be, THE most important thing in their life; many have families, work priorities, what have you.
    Also, plateaus are a natural occurrence, and especially if someone has been dancing for a long time, the are extremely hard to break through. In order to get over a plateau, a dancer has to move backwards; they must re-examine, and breakdown moves and techniques they already know and learn then in a better, more complex way and then move on. If a dancer has been dancing at the same level for a long time, this is hard because techniques they’ve been using (posture, connection, intention) all have to change and the ways they are using have been burned into their muscle memory and it takes huge amounts of intention to break this. This can be a challenge even IF you have all the focus and determination, and yes, a wee bit of self-depreciation. For example, if you’re working on a new and better more-advanced technique for connection it’s VERY hard to practice it if no one in your scene is working on it to and giving you what you need to apply the new skill you are honing.
    Furthermore, if someone has been dancing for a long time and perhaps begun to be recognized for their talent as a dancer, it’s really hard to take the steps backward in order to take the steps forward. Most dancers who are progressive just want to get better and better, but all the built-in habits will take as long to break as they did to learn and only then can they be replaced with better habits which will allow to dancer to move past the current plateau. That is a difficult decision to follow through on and ultimately it can only work with clear guidance and instruction that most people do not have access to.
    Ultimately, mediocre dancers have a place in the scene, even those who would like to be ‘advanced,’ or even consider themselves to be, because they contribute to the scene. The dance is about the love of the dance, and the joy of the music and if someone wants to learn their 4 moves and just keep applying them they are just as much a part of the scene as someone who trains 4 days a week and travels to events every other weekend. The terms ‘intermediate,’ and ‘advanced’ are also very relative; being advanced in one scene, you could be beginner in another, so these labels are problematic. In the end, recognizing that everyone who comes out to a dance night contributes to the building and maintaining of the scene is a great tool to have more fun and stay in the spirit of the dance.

  3. I get what you’re saying, Kev…
    but I agree with Alisha and Martha.

    You come off as sounding like you only like dancing with follows who genuinely want to grow up to be Frida Segerdahl.

    Willingness to improve is a virtue… but goals and motivations differ drastically.

  4. Kevin

    A quick note, my focus in this article is the willingness to improve and willingness to examine ones own dancing. Time, money,and personal situations have nothing to do with it. The issue becomes a little wishy-washy when you have competing desires and limited resources, who wouldn’t like the dancers in their scene to spend more time improving their dancing? But when people have the desire to improve, and they make efforts towards their goal, that is enough. You can be inspired by Frida and aspire to dance like her but only have a couple hours a month to spend dancing. You could be completely broke and spend your time watching dance videos on youtube and practicing in your bedroom. For me it isn’t about time, money or opportunity, it is about attitude. I don’t care how small the steps are that some is able to take due to any number of limitations, it is enough to me that they take them.

  5. @Martha not everybody who comes out to the dance contributes to the scene. I know LOTS of people who come out to the Toronto dancs and don’t actually dance or only dance with 2-3 other people.

  6. Btw, great comments and feedback going on here :)

  7. Martha

    @Randy – even people who don’t dance or only dance a little contribute because they are a head in the door, showing their support for the music or the dance. It’s not an ‘active’ role, but it’s still a role. Saturday afternoons I dance at the Lanc in Kitchener, I’ve gone and been THE ONLY person dancing, which is a bit crazy and if those that don’t dance didn’t come the club wouldn’t keep going. Saying that not dancing doesn’t contribute to the scene trivializes the nature of the events; some people just like the music, or socializing and those things are important too. The social aspect is what makes the scene a community and not just an activity.

    There are many different roles that make up ‘the scene': those that listen, those that socialize, those that dance with 2 people, those that have 4 moves and don’t care about getting better, etc., they all contribute because they are all a part of the whole.

  8. Kathleen

    I have to agree to some extent with Alisha and Martha. People who just come out to social dance are foundational to the dance scene. On the other hand, to grow the scene, you need people who work at it. It takes both.

    I have to disagree with Martha though about the people who come and don’t dance. They don’t do anything for the DANCE scene. It’s rather lame to go to a dance where nobody else wants to dance. You need dancers who actually dance, hopefully with more enthusiasm than snobbishness.

  9. @Martha i think here we can agree to disagree. :) I am in support of dance communities where dancing is the main activity. When that happens, communities will naturally form based on those shared passions.

  10. Roslyn

    Congratulations on the controversy, Kevin. Loving this discussion.

    I’m with Kevin: I prefer hungry dancers. I like feeling like every dance is an experiment, so I’m puzzled when I get deja vu every time I dance with someone.

    Yes, we need all kinds of people at dances to keep a scene alive; there are always going to be people at the “motivated” end of the bell curve and a whole bunch of people filling up the rest of it.

    We can be grateful for the “mediocre” dancers and the people who show up and don’t dance for keeping things fiscally possible, but it’s the ones who are learning and pushing themselves that give a scene energy and keep it from stagnating. When I’m sitting at a plateau, these people are the reason I bother showing up even occasionally.

    The “mediocre” dancers might pay for a scene, but the hungry dancers justify it.

  11. Brian

    There seem to be 2 issues here in Kevin’s original post: Dancers who don’t want to improve, and dancers who don’t want to improve but are cocky anyway.

    I agree from my experience that plateau dancers can tend to get cocky. They sometimes seem to think, “My dancing’s so good that I don’t need to improve or take lessons” and they will take it on themselves to “teach” beginners or criticize people who are better than them. And it can happen naturally from settling into a role as a big fish in a small pond. But the problem is the cockiness, not the fact that they’re not improving. Wouldn’t a hungry and fast-improving dancer who acted cocky hurt a swing scene just as much as a cocky mediocre dancer?

    I have no problem at all with someone who is modest, acknowledges that they’re not the best dancer, doesn’t feel a need to improve but doesn’t try to teach or criticize either, but attends the odd social event and has FUN. That person having fun contributes a heck of a lot to a swing scene.

    Brian’s challenge for the dance organizers: Create an environment that inspires dancers to want to improve.

  12. Lindyspice

    FWIW, there’s also some heavy responsibility on the part of event/venue organizers, relating to accurately gauging the ability of the students and offering opportunities that challenge them. It can be very easy to fall into the complacency of thinking “here’s a new move that I haven’t taught the L2 class yet” when what they *need* may be something different- as examples, developing the confidence to participate in a jam circle or solo competition, experience in role-reversal (like Following 101 for intermediate level Leads), etc. Improving past a plateau requires both self-awareness and challenges to rise to!

  13. Great ideas everybody. And yes I believe creating a more pro-active approach and inspiring people to be better dancers is a win-win situation for everybody in the scene. Just fyi, not a lot of our dance organizers and teachers in Toronto actively social dance regularly *gasp*.

  14. Amanda

    First of all, proof read! The purpose of an article like this it to communicate an idea. I almost stopped reading after the first paragraph because it was so haphazardly stated. Of course I agree with Martha, as we have had many a long discussion about every thing lindy related, but that is not why I’m responding to this.

    I’m responding to say that before posting an article like this, you need to build your argument.

    Just because this is an informal setting doesn’t mean that you should spend any less time constructing and defining your point of view. As of right now I’m not sure if you actually dislike mediocre dancers or just cocky dancers. I understand that much of the time you would classify the cocky dancers as mediocre, but the reality is that they are two separate types of dancer. I personally don’t really care who you like to dance with, that is your prerogative, but when you are going to share that opinion with the rest of the dance community, your argument should be strong, focused and properly thought out.

  15. Elaine

    @Kevin: I don’t know you and I don’t dance lindy, but I am with you 100%! I disagree with everyone here who claims that mediocre dancers “contribute” to a dance scene… in my opinion, they only serve to hinder it.

    I am very well versed in the salsa and tango scenes in Toronto and I share your exact sentiments about mediocre dancers. I admit I may be a dance snob in some respects, but I honestly do enjoy dancing with beginner and intermediate dancers who have potential and are eager to learn and improve. On the other hand, I absolutely cannot stand mediocre dancers who couldn’t care less about improving the dance scene. Sure, mediocre dancers may be necessary to keep the dance *community* alive, but they do not contribute to a thriving dance *scene*. In my opinion, mediocre dancers are the main reason for stagnation/decline/sad-pathetic-state of a dance scene.

    Mediocre dancers are the reason why tango in Toronto sucks. Mediocre dancers are the reason why salsa has stopped progressing (and in fact, is actually REgressing) in Toronto. Mediocre dancers are what makes the difference between an okay dance scene in Toronto and an jaw-droppingly amazing dance scene in Montreal.

    I’ve heard the whole, “Why do you have to be so snobby? Dancing should be fun!” argument many times. Sure, I understand that most people view dancing as a hobby and nothing more than a leisurely activity. I understand why some dancers only want to progress to a mediocre level and are satisfied once they reach it because it’s enough for them to go out and have fun. But in order for a dance scene to grow and develop and improve, there must be a strong core of dedicated dancers who strive to be the best they can be. The problem with Toronto (especially in the tango community) is that there are simply way too many people who are satisfied with mediocrity. And in my opinion, this abundance of mediocre dancers is what distinguishes North American dance scenes from European dance scenes; at the risk of committing a faux pas by overgeneralizing here, I daresay North American dance scenes are less vibrant and of a much lower calibre than their European counterparts because we lack a powerful force of progression in our dance communities.

    Feel free to disagree with me, but these are my sincere thoughts and they are the reason why I am on my way out of the Toronto dance scene. In the meantime… see you on a dance floor in Montreal!

  16. Kevin

    @Amanda: Sorry to dissapoint you. This is a bit of a stream-of-consciousness style blog, and maybe that does people a disservice. I am pleased with the sharing of ideas that it provokes and hope that it encourages consideration of issues that affect our dance community.
    People’s feedback help clarify my thoughts on the dance. I don’t have all the answers, and sometimes it can be difficult to find the words to explain my feelings. What better way to focus my ideas than to post them for general criticism from the community? I prefer to be corrected rather than berated. I encourage you to continue reading Hamfats, if you don’t agree with something, tell us why.

    @Elaine: Thanks for coming out of your “comfort zone” to post your thoughts. It is good to get perspective from different dance communities. Anyone else from any other dance communities that reads this, please feel free to share your experiences.

  17. @Amanda this site is for real and most of the time that means it’s full of holes, warts, and farts. I’m alright with that :) If you feel the argument (which i’m not saying it’s an actual “argument” but just Kevin’s thoughts) isn’t strong, by all means provide your thoughts.

    Also, I didn’t think that before you can share an idea with the dance community, it had to be well thought out. Shit, this site wouldn’t have ever took off then haha.

  18. Also one more thing..

    By the very nature of you (meaning the reader) clicking on this blog post means that you are already fucking crazy about dancing and partnered dancing. So the “mediocre” dancer statement doesn’t apply to you ;)

  19. Brian

    @Elaine: I can understand preferring to dance with motivated dancers, and I certainly agree that you need a core group of dedicated and self-motivated dancers to push a scene. With respect, I can’t understand the anger you seem to feel toward “mediocre” dancers or the idea they actually hurt a scene.

    If you have your core of hardcore dancers, why do you care how many plateau dancers are surrounding them? If you don’t have your core, then you’re still better off having plateau dancers than none at all.

    The fact of people having fun directly helps the scene because beginners taking their first lesson generally care a lot more about making friends and having fun than they do about learning dance technique. I bet that was true of all of you when you started dancing so many years ago. Having people around who enjoy what they’re doing, even if it’s just a casual hobby for them (as long as they’re not cocky), will make beginners have a good time and encourage them to stay so that later on, they might become the hardcores.

    Meanwhile I have known dedicated, motivated, rapidly improving dancers turn beginners off from dancing because they’re cocky. The problem isn’t improving vs. casual, it’s friendly vs. arrogant. Beginners need to see not only dancers who are good and working at getting better, but dancers who make them feel that this could be them one day if they work at it too.

    In my own dancing, I was a plateau dancer for years. But at the same time I was hardcore in event organizing and if I say so myself, think I did a lot of good for the Toronto scene … I certainly don’t think I hurt the scene just because I wasn’t trying to improve my own dancing.

    Now I’m living in Ottawa and becoming more inspired and trying more to improve. And it’s not some kind of coincidence. It’s like I said in my last post and like Lindyspice added after me — the people doing the organizing can do a lot to create a culture where people become inspired to improve. That’s what certain organizers in Ottawa are like and it has changed this plateau dancer into an improving one. Randy knows this very well, just see one of his posts a couple back.

    So I repeat my challenge. I know what previous posters here like Martha, Jasper, Randy, Kathleen and others are doing to try to create an atmosphere in their respective scenes that inspires people to want to improve. I apologize if this comment seems disrespectful, but I feel like some people are just complaining about a lack of inspiration when there is so much more they could be doing to address the problem.

  20. Elaine

    @Brian: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I hope you did not take offence to my views, as I fully respect the fact that ALL of us reach plateaus in our dancing. Like I said, I can understand if someone just wants to reach a certain proficiency in their dancing that allows them to have fun, but the problem arises when there are too many medicore dancers who hinder the dance scene from moving forward.

    I am not “angered” by mediocre dancers as much as I am plain frustrated. I guess you have to witness the tango scene in Toronto with your own eyes before you truly understand where I am coming from. The tango community here is just overrun with mediocrity… I would say about 90% of the community are mediocre dancers who couldn’t care less about improving or becoming better dancers. In my experience, what has this led to? An inability to progress myself, since there are no good dancers with whom to learn, practice, or explore. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to want to improve so badly, but not have the means to do so? I have “quit” tango several times from the sheer frustration of not being able to realize my full potential… I *know* I have the potential to develop into a really good tanguera, but the environment in Toronto is not conducive to any kind of progression.

    It also seems that most tango dancers in Toronto are quite satisfied with their bad habits, and it bothers me when they feel *entitled* to dance with you. Sometimes I feel as if I’m just there for other people’s amusement. I’m sorry, but if a dancer settles for mediocrity, he should not feel entitled to put others through a horrible dance. Many of the mediocre tango leaders don’t have the slightest idea how to make a dance comfortable for their follower… and this can be a big issue when dancing tango because the connection and comfort between partners is of paramount importance.

    I know this article and blog mostly pertains to lindy, so I guess I probably shouldn’t be taking part in this discussion, but I felt like I needed to justify my position based on my own personal experiences.

    P.S. I haven’t addressed the whole issue of attitude (being cocky and arrogant) because I believe that is a whole other issue… I purposely chose not to explore it in my first posting because I would be typing a novel by now!

  21. Heather

    Speaking as one of those mediocre dancers who has only recently started to take steps to actively improve, there are few things as demotivating as screwing up your courage to ask one of the really good dancers for a dance, only to have them disengage with you completely when you make a mistake. You feel like you’re wasting their time, like you’re a terrible dancer, and those thoughts and memories stick with you long after the dance has ended. And that kind of contempt doesn’t inspire you to get better, it just makes you want to not dance with that person, no matter how technically good they are.

    From what I’ve seen, the best motivation is dancers who make every dance fun, who inspire to try new things, and as @Brian said, “dancers who make them feel that this could be them one day if they work at it too.”

    Like @Alisha said, it’s about priorities. Priorities can change, mediocre dancers can start wanting to improve themselves, but they’re more likely to be inspired to do so by people who enjoy every dance as much as possible, rather than by people who resent their “consistent bad dance habits.”

  22. Lindyspice

    Well said, @Heather!

  23. Tien

    There’s quite a discussion going on here and I love what people are saying.

    @Elaine while the site might be heavily focused on lindy, I believe that this issue pertains to any SOCIAL dance scene, including Tango and Salsa.

    @Brian. I’m glad to see that Ottawa has you inspired to dance and improved. They are a great bunch of folks there.

    To touch upon that, the one thing I have to say about the Ottawa scene is that there’s two schools of thought for dancers there. Those who are there for social dancing, and the others who strive to compete, perform and dance better. I believe the energy from the latter group of folks really do drive the inspiration for those who have are in a plateau to get better. That being said, I don’t believe that the key is their drive, but it’s the people that is there. Let’s not beat around the bush, the folks who are a part of Swing Dynamite have fantastic personalities in which, any dancer who attempts to learn more and get better are encouraged by the people around them. They seem to be friendly and inclusive, as well as encouraging, and being surrounded by folks like that is infectious. I can see why Ottawa is so inspiring and it growing so quickly.

    On the flipside, there are people who criticize them because of that drive and I’ve noticed that it is a lot of social dancers. It could be that they way they do things might rub folks the wrong way, but that is bound to happen. There’s always a backlash from folks who don’t like competitive spirits. I can say though, that spirit has really put Ottawa on the map, and the social dancers have a great chance to reap the benefits from it. Look at the potential that Ottawa dancers will have each year to meet and take classes from top-notch dancers because of it. Compare that to Toronto…

    I don’t think Kevin is shitting on folks who plateaued, but don’t know how to get out of it; hell I’ve been there. It’s the people who just don’t want to do more with their dancing. It’s the folks who show up and are there because it’s X day, and that’s where they are that day every week. It just sucks the energy out of going dancing.

  24. Adi

    So we’ve identified what some people think is holding back the scene… I think the next thing people need to discuss is how to change it or how to help eachother.

    I tend to believe in creating environments to change behaviour. When I feel like I’m plateauing I have to change scenes – kind of cross-training… Partner dancing is tricky to improve because we often get into a rut or just not feeling it, and we can’t do it ourselves, but there isn’t always that type of informal setting where people can really experiment and challenge eachother to support better dancing…
    What will improve people is outside of the classroom – and not in the danceclub either…

    Some people, understandably, don’t like giving feedback at a dance-club… Honestly it depends on if you have friends that are good and willing to share knowledge, and I find lindyhop needs more people who share moves and ideas… or learn from other dances and experiment… sometimes people get a little rigid (sure they don’t make mistakes but they also don’t experiment at all)..

    The setting is important – you want competitive dancers -have performances and competitions- inclusive and frequent- make progressive classes perform to push them to practice outside of the classroom- a few good dancers have to be around to help and correct, but it’s the drive to not let down your group/partner and the closer friendships you create while training that gives people purpose and gets them more comfortable to experiment and practise together…

  25. Kevin Sue

    Hey y’all. Mediocre, expert, plateaued, cocky, improving, or other – if you’re not having fun, you might be doing it all wrong.

    I’m all for practice – if I had more time (and money), I’d definitely train, and travel more because I love doing those things. I like the satisfaction that I have improved in myself in some way – and that I have shared something unique with someone else.

    Ok, now I digress. If you don’t like dancing with someone for whatever reason (mediocre, stinky), don’t do it. If you’re not having fun, neither will the person dancing with you, ESPECIALLY IF THEY’RE HURTING YOU. Segway: On a more serious level, I don’t know how many followers come up to me and told me their shoulder has been almost dislocated, elbows hyperextended and kidneys bruised. You are not a charity or a punching bag, so don’t take crap. Tell the person you’re dancing with what’s wrong. At least that way they have a chance to improve, and quite possibly, they won’t hurt you and the next 10 people they dance with. If you’re worried about the fallout, I’ve got your back, and I’m sure there’s others who will stand by you as well.

    Kevin Sue

    ps. Just before a beginner lesson I was going to teach, my partner told me I might be accidentally boob squeezing one move because my arm was too high. I appreciate the feedback. You know who you are :-)

  26. Margot

    I stubbled up this and found the discussion very interesting… so I just thought I would say…

    Dance Scenes, Mediocrity, and Improvement (Reader’s digest version)

    So I have been to a few… dance scenes that is, and they are all the same. They all have a clique of more experienced dancers and save a few individuals who dance with everyone, it is bloody hard to crack that nut, and in my experience, impossible. A segregated environment, no matter the level of dancing involved, is not a community.

    1. If you don’t like the level of dancing in your area inspire those Mediocres! It’s not their fault you are so good.

    2. It is the job of the better dancers to drive a dance scene, that being said, these individuals should not be exclusive lest they destroy a dance community. Dancing with less skilled dancers only during lessons is not cool.

    3. Some mediocre dancers cannot improve – I know people who have taken YEARS of the same beginner classes and still can’t keep time or hear the music, but they are having fun, and are not being disrespectful, well that is the point.

    4. Elitistism stinks.

    5. Yes, dancing with unskilled partners can be troublesome, but seconding Kevin’s comment, perhaps followers should get a little “meaner”. Though 95% of the people will just get mad, you were likely not hoping to dance with them again anyways…

    6. Lessons are great for improving technique and insiring new ideas, but the social dance floor is where becoming an improved dancer really takes place. Learning on the social dance floor may be mildly painfully at first for all parties involved, but how else are you supposed to learn?!

    7. If you want to get really cynical, all dancers, even those Mediocres pay fees. They are still coming out an supporting your community. However, I know places who only REALLY encourage other dancers to come out is to fund the ventures of the clique. This also is not cool.

    8. Did I mention that elitisism in dance stinks?

    I have enjoyed reading your comments. Perhaps people may want to take into consideration that the success of a dance scene should not come at the cost of disrespecting other participants. Dancing is fun. Keep it that way for everyone.

  27. Lindyspice

    @Margot OMG, crack me up! I didn’t know there was another Margot lindyhoppin’… DM me on Twitter sometime!!

  28. Laura

    I came into this a little late, but I’ve found it a really interesting read. I wanted to weigh in anyway, even though it does feel a bit after the fact.

    One of the hardest things about this topic is that the people who are at plateaus often don’t realize it. I was at a plateau a while ago that took a year and a half to bust through, and that was despite a *constant* strong desire to improve… I can only imagine how much longer it would take for someone who had gotten comfortable at their current level to break out. Even assuming you realize you’re at a plateau, pushing through it is hard work… and sometimes people just don’t have a reason to bother. For some dancers, (pretty much all the ones reading this thread, I’d imagine) just the knowledge that they are getting better is reward enough to keep pushing, and those people are awesome! But for others, dance is a casual thing they do for fun, and they just want to be good enough to enjoy themselves. Those people DO contribute to the scene, just by being there and loving it. But if that attitude bothers you, you have to either suck it up (because there will ALWAYS be people who aren’t as into it as you are), or show them how much more fun they could be having if they were improving. While I agree that it would be awesome if everyone wanted to be Frieda or Naomi or Skye or Steven or Nina or Frankie (and on and on), sitting here and talking about how nice it would be if other people were more motivated will do diddly-squat for actually improving the scene.

    When I was learning to dance, I could see that the top dancers in my scene were having a great time dancing. I wouldn’t have *wanted* to improve without that… it looked like being a better dancer made it more fun to dance, and I wanted to have more fun. Later, when I started asking the “good” people to dance with me, it turned out that it really was more fun to have better dances. But no “mediocre” dancer is going to want to improve if they can’t see that they would have a better time that way. No one is going to want to put in the effort just for the sake of it, without some idea of what the payoff will be.

    For dancers who don’t want to compete, who aren’t being coached, or who are already having a pretty good time on the social floor, there’s got to be a strong motivating factor to make the effort of improving worthwhile. Without that constant example of better dancers having a better time, what possible reason could people have to push through their plateaus? If you really want “mediocre” dancers in your scene to become “improving” dancers, then it’s your job to be constantly social dancing, improving your own dancing, and supporting your scene, in order to share that sense of exploration and excitement with others.

    I’m not saying that every “good” dancer should be dancing with beginners to the point of not having fun themselves… just the opposite! I’m saying that “good” dancers should be showing by example what a great time you can have on the dance floor, and when dancing with beginners (or intermediates, or mediocre dancers, or pros, or anyone really), they should be genuinely having a good time… otherwise what’s the point?

  29. Claire

    O, man, do I have something to say about this and it’s ……. RIGHT ON! Preach it! And the only reason I am adament about this is because I’ve seen a cocky mediocre teacher ruin perfectly good dancers who wanted nothing more than to learn how to dance beautifully and technically correct.

    This “teacher” is 30 yet stopped learning anything new over 10 years ago when she became a teacher. She never could do turns correctly so how on earth is she going to teach someone how to do that; she also never learned how to do leaps either, another draw back since she can’t teach what she doesn’t know. But to hear her tell it, she should have been a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader or on Broadway. Yea, she’s grandiose and that would be fine if she could back it up, but no she can’t.

    I think since she has virtually little to no competition with competing schools because she lives in BFE that she has a hold on this community and also the 30 mile radius around the community where she teaches since she is the only dance teacher around. And she looks like a dancer. Tall, thin, lean and blonde, but because she can’t do leaps and turns I find her to be weak and we all know dancers need to have physical strength to pull off a lot of technically difficult moves.

    The sad part is she does enter groups into competitions but her groups are always at the bottom of the winner’s list. Of course, a lot of parents have already picked up on this and even though they may have to drive an hour one way to another studio, they are doing it so that their child isn’t stuck in a mediocre dance studio land forever just because they live in a rural area.

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