Kim Norland, President
Kim Norland, President

Following the announcement of the dance program for the coming season, I got a few inquiries about what was going to happen and why. This made me think that the description in the last newsletter was not clear. So let me take a moment to elaborate.

I acknowledge that there were quite a few members who asked for classes at various levels and those requests were heard. Some members want a class because, to put it simply, they like taking classes. Others are looking to advance from their current level to the next. While both of these are valid reasons to attend class, they are not the best reasons for us to offer a class.
In the first case, one can take a class repeatedly, but the classroom is not the best way to put learning into action. To make the learning “stick” one must put it to practical use and is the reason why many successful degree and training programs require a practicum or work experience component. This is true for square dancing as well – the best way to become a better dancer is to dance. While class is a good environment for learning concepts and movements, it’s through actual experience that a concept becomes a skill. When I was a new plus dancer, I was perplexed by Crossfire and Chase Right. They seemed simple enough while being taught, but they didn’t stick after I left PS3. It wasn’t until a TNP (take no prisoners) session with Dayle Hodge at Pass The Ocean Hon at Rehoboth Beach, that those two calls “took.” Doing the movements repeatedly and quickly or break down the square was the thing that did it. That made it stick!

In the second case, we have members who want to advance but haven’t mastered the movements or concepts of their current level. Since our activity is one based on skill, it is essential to have a good grasp on a level before progressing. It may not seem important, but without the foundation of the previous level, one cannot understand what is being taught in the next. Recently, I have noticed that circulates seem to confound some of our club members. Without a full understanding of the basic circulate patterns, it isn’t possible to grasp the concept of “circulate once and a half” at another level.

Personally, I have taken the Challenge I class three times, but I’m still not a confident dancer at that level. Though I am technically entitled to go on to the next level, my lack of confidence and ability would only slow the class, requiring a review of something I should have mastered at a lower level. It would be a disservice to me, the other class members and the teacher if I were to advance. For this reason, I am looking forward to the workshops and dances we have planned where I can put to use the knowledge I have gained in class and get real experience dancing the level at tempo.

For these reasons, I think it is in our club’s best interest to take the coming year to improve our skills. Whatever your current level, I encourage you to come to the workshops and dances, not only at your current level but at lower levels as well. There is always something left to learn or a technique to perfect.

Times Squares has a reputation as being a club with excellent dancers. Let’s spend the next year polishing that reputation by becoming the best dancers we can be.