Highland dance teaching hints
Some hints for teaching. These suggestions have been collated from the
highland-dance mailing list
. It might also
be worth checking the Dance tips page
NB All information in here should be treated as a friend's
suggestion - ie while we believe the information to be mainly correct, you
should apply common sense about following it. If it hurts, if it looks wrong
for you, don't do it*.
- [Posted by Debbi Rummery]
I give all the dancers a 'newsletter' saying what I expect of them in
lessons in regard to attire, and that includes not running through puddles
or scraping expensive shoes on the cement on the way in - wear outdoor shoes
and change when you get to the lesson. As you say, if the ballet can do it
then why can't we - and you know who Corinna had for a ballet teacher - can
you imagine her letting a kid come to lessons looking anything but perfect?
- [Posted by Holly Hodgkin]
Print a "studio rules" sheet which includes an appropriate attire section ~
and consequences of not coming properly attired. My rule is that if they are
not dressed properly or their hair is down, they cannot dance until they fix
it. I had one gal dance in her brothers shorts and with a shoelace tying her
hair back. She never came unprepared again. :^)
Some hints on teaching the "littles"
- [Posted by AmyBeth]
- Don't expect them to be perfect dancers. At most competitions, even the
little ones who get up on stage but do no more than jump up and down still get
a ribbon, and that's all the encouragement they need. The little one I
mentioned above got up for 16 pdb's, stopped halfway through, covered her
blushing face with her hands and stood there while her sister finished the
dance. When she heard the music stop, she bowed (hands STILL covering her
face!) and received thunderous applause!
- Let them "absorb". I don't shoo away my little ones when they try to copy
the bigger kids' dances, as long as they still do work on their 16 pdb's and
highcuts. It helps their skill and they enjoy it more too!
- Find ways to let them "cheat". Sometimes I teach toe-heels by just having
them jump twice on each foot (hop-spring-hop-spring) Same thing with the
pointing step of the sword... let them hop 4 times in the appropriate square
instead of pointing 2nd 3rd 4th 3rd. It gets them prepared for the proper
way, when they're ready to move on.
- Encourage the big kids to be an example. My little ones really look up to
the more experienced dancers. I had one 5-year-old tell his Mom (Mom was
saying his high-cuts weren't very good) "Well, Hillarie says my High-Cuts are
beautiful and she really knows what she's talking about!"
BTW... Hillarie is 13 and helps with lessons.
What order should I teach the dances?
- [Posted by Justine Griffith]
Now about teaching the dances. I usually teach Fling, Swords, Lilt and
Reel - together - kinda... I think Reel is easier for them to learn
cause you just put your fling steps in, and Lilt is easy because it
goes so quickly - as long as the kids realise that you only do 3 lots
of everything. I then teach Flora and S.T. "together" as shuffles and
HBBB etc are used in both.
- [Posted by Holly Hodgkin]
I find everyone's teaching order very interesting. I start with the Fling
(sheddings first...) and usually teach the first step at the first lesson.
Depending on how quickly the dancers pick it up - they may learn the whole
dance (no arms) in as short as 3 weeks or as long as 8. I follow with the
Sword, then Trews, and Flora. I save the Lilt for last since the timing is
different and it is very hard to get them doing "3" instead of "4" of
everything. The basic highland dances usually take about a year to learn and
the 2 nationals are added the 2nd year. Every once in a while I get a student
who is a SPONGE and picks up very quickly... that student would be moved up to
a more advanced class and learn faster.
Suggestion for Seann Truibhas
- [Posted by Emily Murer]
I was taught seann triubhas arms (for the first step) by using a
beach ball to get the round-ness of the arms! I also like the
hug-a-tree or bear method.
- [Posted by Holly Hodgkin]
I remember being taught that you should mimic drawing a circle on a chalk
board. That way, the palms stay facing forward. I hate the rain bucket
look... and arms that drop too low on count 4. I am a major upper body
teacher... It just amazes me in competition the dancers who have nice feet
but horrible arms!!! The arms are 1/2 the dance.
* In other words - if you follow this advice and get hurt, we're sorry,
and that was most certainly not the intention, but we don't accept any legal
responsibility. Or to put it yet another way: if you feel like suing, don't.
We never forced you to follow this anyway.
Extracted from postings to highland-dance, the highland and scottish step
dance mailing list.
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