Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Why do you ask me so many questions, Leigh?"

You're new to my class. Perhaps new to the studio. I introduce myself to you.

"Hi, I'm Leigh. What's your name?"

"Um, Nancy Newbie."

"Hi, Nancy! What's your experience?"

At this point, most people respond with a variation of:

"I've been dancing for X number of years." Or "I danced as a kid and am just getting back into ballet."

"Great, great! Are you new to the area, new to LA?"

"Yes." or "No." (Duh.)

If you're brand new to dance, I'll probably put you between 2 students who know my class well. If you're not new, I'll probably introduce you to the students right near you and mention something about them.

Why do I want to know all these things about you? I mean, you're just there to take a class, not become BFF's with everyone. What do I care anyway whether you've been dancing a while or are new to the area, etc.?

The answers to these questions give me insight into the way you will take the class.  If you're super new, I'll be super supportive and make sure you're picking everything up.  If you look lost, I want to help you. If you're new to the area, I might step back a bit and give you some space, since you're probably looking around for classes and teachers and I don't want to overwhelm you. If you tell me you danced a long, long time ago, I'll observe for class placement -this might not be the best class for you. If you say you had an injury, I won't push you. If you mention you take classes all over or otherwise seem like you're very interested in dance and improving your technique, I'll give you corrections.

I want you to have a good experience in my classes, no matter what level you are. While I can't tailor a class to a specific individual, I can direct it so the majority of the students are satisfied. I know not everyone does this, not every teacher bothers, and I get why: it's time-consuming and can feel like pandering. If the student doesn't come back, you wonder why, especially if you felt like it was a good fit for them.

Honestly, I do get disappointed sometimes when a good student doesn't return and I often vow to not bother to get to know someone in the future. But my classes are small and the students are tight. Every student who "sticks" fits in nicely with the group. That makes it more pleasant for all: you attend and see friendly faces and they like seeing you. I become ridiculously happy when my students socialize outside of class. That is success.

Happy dancing~

PS - a couple of housekeeping notes: There will be no Stretch class this Friday, 5:30. Also, I realized my calendar listed my Tues/Thurs classes as Adv/Beg. I changed that to Adv Beg - it is an Advanced Beginner class. I expect students to have the basics down and are looking for a challenge. ~ LP

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