Line dancing has evolved so much over the past 20 years or so. Back then grapevines, hitches and struts could be found in lots of Line dances of all levels. Coaster steps and sailor shuffles were among the steps that Line dance teachers had to spend some time teaching to help their dancers grasp the shape or pattern of the steps as well as the rhythm. Apple jacks were a real challenge for many and I recall with affection the times I spent breaking down and building up apple jacks when teaching them to Line dancers eager to master this flashy step. Done well apple jacks could create a lot of admiration from fellow dancers back then. Today they have got lost (or maybe just hidden) in the huge melting pot of Line dance steps or is it that apple jacks come under the steps that take a little bit too long to teach? In a world where everything is so instant do Line dancers just want instant Line dancing too?
Line dancing, other dance genres and teacher education
For a while a few years ago there was a huge amount of borrowing from other dance genres happening in Line dance choreography. Movements and steps were being introduced on a relentless scale. From rondés to arabesques and everything in between, they were all popping up in Line dances (this still happens but perhaps not on such a vast scale). What is wrong with this, I hear some think? Well nothing as long as the steps or movements are taught safely so that dancers are not put at risk because of not knowing how to do the step or what the step actually is. What would help is better education (and more interest in Line dance teacher education) so that Line dance teachers learn more about how to do and teach these new steps and movements so they can teach them safely to their dancers. This takes us back to the debates that have been around for years popping up from time to time about whether or not deviating so far from the roots of Line dancing through the introduction of more and more complex steps from other dance genres makes Line dancing exclusive instead of inclusive for participants. This got me thinking about a couple of issues that I would have on my wish list for Line dancing.
Beginners and older Line dancers
High on my Line dance wish list would have to be a Line dance world that paid more attention to beginners and older Line dancers.
I noticed during the lengthy period of change in Line dancing that these two groups of Line dancers were not catered for in the way that say, the intermediate dancers or even improver dancers were and are today. It seems that less attention is paid to the needs of beginners and older Line dancers when dances are choreographed. A lot of new Line dances appear to target younger, improver or intermediate dancers and not older dancers who might prefer to do dances at a pace that is comfortable rather than trying to keep up with dancing at a very brisk tempo and dancing endless turns. Of course there are some older Line dancers who can dance fast dances with lots of turns but many cannot and these are the ones I would love to see catered for more on my wish list.
Absolute beginners and beginners are the other group of dancers on this wish list of mine. I love beginners. They are such a vital group of people in Line dancing and any social dance genre. Line dancing, as with any social dance form, needs regular, new blood coming in to learn and enjoy it so that get hooked and want to continue with their new hobby for a long time to come. Introducing Line dancing to new beginners is such a joy and a privilege for teachers. The foundation that beginners learn when starting out helps them throughout their Line dancing journey. And this is why the other huge wish on my list has to be encouraging more Line dance teachers to take part in workshops or courses that help to enhance teaching.
CPD and Line dance teaching
I find that Line dance teachers are often reluctant to take part in teacher training or CPD and to me this is sad but also a missed opportunity to enhance skills and become better at what we do. When I have had the pleasure of leading workshops and courses for Line dance teachers it is usual to have a lot of fun as well as all the learning, thinking and sharing that goes on at these sessions. Teachers often share teaching concerns and there have been more than a few lightbulb moments at these sessions as nuggets of knowledge and understanding help to resolve long-standing teaching issues for some of the teachers.
It is a dear wish of mine that more Line dance teachers will take part in some sort of dance teacher development be that with me or someone else. Doing some updating of skills not only helps you to be a better Line dance teacher but it also gives you, as the teacher, new ideas and new ways to think about your teaching. And I often find that when you look with fresh eyes at something you have done for some time you can find new motivation and energy in what you do.
If you teach Line dancing then it would be lovely to have an opportunity to work with you on one of my short online CPD courses for dance teachers. Each course takes 10 hours of your time over a three-week period and only costs £49 (GBP) plus you get a completion certificate when you complete the course. All of the courses are open to dance teachers from all dance genres but a course specifically for social or leisure dance teachers is planned for a little later this year. If you want to find out more about my short online courses for dance teachers then please get in touch. Information about the current courses on offer are available here.