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About the Author

Andrew Sutton is a World Champion Lindy Hop Instructor, and one of the original founders of the Fusion partner dance movement. He uses his extensive research in over 244 cities across 38 countries (& 44 dance forms) to help dance instructors be more successful financially during their pursuit to help their students Make Every Dance Amazing! Impossible? Maybe...but if you shoot for the moon and miss, at least you'll land amongst the stars!

STOP Dancing On The Beat?

Dancing Tips , Free , Teaching Tips

STOP Dancing On The Beat…

This is Part 3 of a 4-part series on redeveloping techniques so they work with everyone you dance with:

By now, you understand…

why this is so important for your dancing

and…

the first guideline for turning any technique into your own Universal Technique.

If you don’t, click the links above before reading below.  Don’t worry, I’ll be here when you get back. 🙂

Ok, now that we’re all caught up…

Let’s take a look at the second guideline for creating Universal Techniques:

2. Make it “reaction ready” instead of “statically styled”

Many times you have probably been told to do something on a specific beat(s).

 “Stretch on 1.”

“Go into counterbalance on 3&4.”

“Rotate on 5.”

Anytime you learn anything that is “supposed” to happen on a particular beat…

…it is very important to reframe so that you can make it happen on any beat.

It is extremely rare that all your partners will do the same technique all on the same beat, even if they are all taught the same way.  Some will start it early, some will start it late, and some will do things at completely different times from what you were taught.

Creating habits that happen on a particular beat is a recipe for a “statically styled” dance that is NOT reacting to your partner or the music, regardless of whether you are leading or following.

Whereas, reframing these concepts so you can do them on any beat will make them “reaction ready”, so you are ready to use each concept at the exact moments that it makes sense in each individual situation, with each partner and/or the exact moment in the music that it feels best for you.

 

Example: Counterbalance

For example, if you are “supposed” to go into counterbalance on 3 and come out on 4 in any particular movement (or go in at the beginning of the dance), this is very static and unchanging.  It happens at a particular time, regardless of what your partner does.

Below we will discuss how to adjust this as both a lead and a follow to make it reaction ready.

If you really want to be one of the most skilled dancers, learn how to reframe each technique/concept both as a lead and as a follow.  That way, within any aspect of the dance (counterbalance, grounding, matching arms, etc), you can help improve the experience by subtly adjusting your lead/follow role, making each aspect of the dance more clear (as a lead) and more in sync (as a follow) while still remaining in your primary role.

Reaction Ready Reframing For Follows

For follows, you will want to change this from the statically styled statement to a reaction ready statement as shown below:

Statically Styled Reaction Ready (for follows)
Go into counterbalance on 3 and come out on 4. Go into counterbalance when your partner goes in and come out when your partner comes out.

Now this might sound obvious, but I can’t stress how often it doesn’t happen (especially in classes).  Even when the follows think they are waiting and reacting, they are often a split second ahead of their lead.

But follows, don’t beat yourself up!  It’s most likely not all your doing.  Of course you are naturally going to do this in the above situations.  It’s being conditioned into you!  How can we expect anything else, if you are constantly hearing that you should go into counterbalance on 3 and come out on 4.  Of course, you are going to be inclined to make that happen (thereby leading it) when you hear it described this way over and over…

…unless…you do something about it.

That’s why it’s soooo important to actively reframe any statically styled statement to a reaction ready statement EVERY TIME you hear or think a statically styled one.

In fact, I’d recommend restating it in a reaction ready statement, out loud, twice for every one time you hear it statically styled.  Of course, restating it once inside of your head is better than nothing.  But for every time you notice it, there are probably a few times where you didn’t notice it, so restating it twice and out loud (especially if the static statement was said out loud) will give you more chances of overcoming that accidental conditioning. 

If you actively do this every single time, you will improve your following dramatically and jump lightyears ahead of the average follow.

Follows, want an easier way?

Reframing everything you learn takes a lot of time and effort that could instead be spent on improving your musicality, connection, body awareness, and many other aspects of your dancing.

At Dance Ninjas, we are very aware of how our words affect your learning experience and we are constantly making sure we are using reaction ready statements, so you don’t have to reframe everything that we teach you.

Join Dance Ninjas Dance Training so you can spend more time on the key aspects to improving your dancing with everyone.

Side note: Not all your leads will be skilled enough to clearly lead every single aspect of the dance.  If that is the case, and you don’t understand what they want for counterbalance, no problem…just use the reaction ready statement for leads (see below) and subtly get your partner to go in and out of counterbalance when you want them to.  Then appreciate your awesome ninja like skills of being able to do this without them even realizing you are helping guide them.

 

Reaction Ready Reframing For Leads

For leads, you will want to change this from the statically styled statement to a reaction ready statement as shown below:

Statically Styled Reaction Ready (for leads)
Go into counterbalance on 3 and come out on 4. Get each individual partner to go in and out of counterbalance at different moments of your choosing (including but not limited to the statically styled version).

There are two important aspects to the reaction ready statement for leads.

1. “Get each individual partner” reminds me that there are a variety of ways to succeed in this task and the same method won’t work for everyone.

So by focusing on what it takes to get each individual partner to do this, I increase my chances of finding more successful methods that will work on the social dance floor.

2. “…at different moments of your choosing” trains my body to be able to adjust the timing of the movement.

If I train my body to do things on a specific beat, then it will be harder to adjust my body to change based on my partner and the music because I will be working against a static habit that I  trained into my body.

Whereas, if I train my body to be able to change at any moment, then I am teaching my body to be able to automatically adjust. That way my body can automatically choose a version of the counterbalance that will work best depending on how my partner is moving and the exact moment in the music.

That’s why it’s soooo important to actively reframe any statically styled statement to a reaction ready statement EVERY TIME you hear or think a statically styled one.

If you actively do this every single time, you will improve your leading dramatically and jump lightyears ahead of the average lead.

Leads, want an easier way?

Reframing everything you learn takes a lot of time and effort that could instead be spent on improving your musicality, connection, body awareness, and many other aspects of your dancing.

At Dance Ninjas, we are very aware of how our words affect your learning experience and we are constantly making sure we are using reaction ready statements, so you don’t have to reframe everything that we teach you.

Join Dance Ninjas Dance Training so you can spend more time on the key aspects to improving your dancing with everyone.

Side note: Not all your follows will be skilled enough to follow every single aspect of your lead. If that is the case, and you can’t seem to get the outcome you want for counterbalance, no problem…just use the reaction ready statement for follows (see above) and subtly go in and out of counterbalance when your partner is going in and out of it while leading the other aspects of the dance.  Then appreciate your awesome ninja like skills of being able to do this without them even realizing you are adjusting for them.

 

So leads and follows…

STOP dancing on the beat…

…that you were taught is the “correct” one and start making each aspect of your movements reaction ready so you dance them on whatever beat your partner is asking you to or whatever moment the music is calling for.

 

Remember, this is the second of three important guidelines to creating Universal techniques.

To sum up all 3 guidelines again, they are:

  1. Turn judgments (or rules) into options with descriptive benefits
  2. Make it “reaction ready” instead of “statically styled”
  3. Continuously redevelop for all possible variations

 

We will cover the last guideline soon.  

Join our mailing list to get updated when it’s ready and you will also get an awesome free tip: The Ultimate Tip For Month Long Dance Highs.

In the meantime, think about this:

To learn to dance at the highest levels, you will want to create Universal Learning Methods for every aspect of your dancing, including:

  • Counterbalance
  • Grounding
  • Body vs Arm Leading/Following
  • Musicality (and a variety of subcategories of musicality)
  • Stationary Spins and Traveling Turns

…and much MUCH more.

So pick a technique you want to redevelop and get started on this today.  You can always revise and improve it as you go (and if you’re anything like me, you will do this many times) but if you don’t start, you won’t have anything to improve.

Want To Take The Fast Track?

If you want to get a jumpstart on learning universally and experience a bunch of techniques that have already been redeveloped for you from thousands of hours of classes in over 231 cities across 34+ countries…

Join Dance Ninjas Dance Training and get all 5 of the above techniques (plus much more), which will all be taught using the above 3 guidelines for Universal Learning so you don’t have to figure it out on your own.

Have questions? Feel free to ask them below!

7 Easy Steps To Create A Progressive Series Of Classes From Beginner To Advanced In Less Than 1 Hour

Free , Organizing Tips , Teaching Tips

Progressive Classes

7 Easy Steps To Create

Progressive Series Of Classes

From Beginner To Advanced

In Less Than 1 Hour

Creating a series of progressive classes that build off of each other AND keep your students excited, wanting more, can feel like an overwhelming task that will take hours, or even days.

How do you start?  What should come first?  How do you keep it interesting?  How do you make sure to offer variety?  How do you keep students coming back for more?

This 7 step plan will answer all these questions and make the process easy for you.

 

The Benefits of the Plan

  1. This 7 step plan will teach you the exact A-Z steps you can take to create classes that progress off of each other, while being interesting, offering variety and keeping your students coming back for more.
  2. By following our plan, you will gain the confidence that comes from knowing you have taken the necessary steps to choose the best possible path for your class series.
  3. The plan will clarify all your awesome material and prepare you for teaching workshops as well as series classes.
  4. Organizers looking to hire you will be impressed when you show them the work you put into your classes.
  5. The plan will allow you to be more flexible on the spot so your classes don’t get stuck feeling the same.
  6. This plan will save you loads of time (hours or even days)!
  7. Organizers: Have your teachers use this 7 step plan to present you their syllabus suggestions.

 

 

Note: You can view additional info and examples below by clicking any text with arrows like this:

Click the text again & this info will disappear.

The Requirements

1. If you want to see results, you must implement the plan!

Don’t worry, we have made it super easy!  Skim this whole article & then go thru the the 7 steps one at a time. In less than 1 hour, you will have a basic progressive class series ready to go.

2. After you read the plan, set aside 40 - 85 Minutes to implement it.

We have given you a minimum and maximum time that you should spend on each topic so you can power thru this and have a solid basic outline within 40 minutes, or delve deeper into your knowledge spending as much as 85+ minutes.

3. Manage your time carefully. It is your most valuable resource.

WATCH OUT!  The more time you spend on Step 1, the more time the rest of the steps will take.

We recommend setting a timer for 10 minutes and forcing yourself to stop at the 10 minute mark.  After you have done steps 1-6 (setting timers along the way), you will have a plan that you can implement and it will have taken you less than an hour!

Step 7 is about refining the process, so you can always go back and spend more time perfecting it after you have a working version.

4. Use an Early Warning Alarm & an End Now Alarm

If you have problems keeping to time limits (like me), set an “Early Warning Alarm” 1-2 minutes before the official end time for each step AND an official “End Now Alarm”.  Try it!  You might be amazed at how awesome your creation is even when you stick to your time limits (especially if you give yourself the early warning).

Plus, this is great training for learning to end on time (which is often a skill dance teachers could improve).

Here is my favorite free alarm app, Flextime (mac only) …. or here are some popular Alarms for PCs.

 

The Steps

Step 1: (10 – 20 min) Brainstorm all the topics that you love to teach.

A few examples from my list:

  • How to connect to your partner’s entire body instead of just their hand or back
  • What to know when you or your partner is grounded or not
  • The 3 types of connection & when to use them
  • The 3 types of arm movement & when to use them
  • Matching the 9 arms
  • Matching Energy Changes
  • Overall Feel of Different Songs – Comparing Emotions & Stories
  • Volume vs Energy Changes and How They Relate
  • How To Predict Music (so you can dance to stuff you never heard)
  • Overall Feel Within Each Song – Changing of Emotions & Stories
  • What Makes An Amazing Dance
  • Expanding Your Comfort Zone
  • Mastering Triple Steps
  • Managing Your Speed: From Porches to Cadillacs

Bonus Benefit: Brainstorming your topics is also great for getting more students and getting hired for workshops more often!  The more clear you are about what you offer, the better.

Step 2: (5  – 15 min) Group your topics into categories.

I have three categories that make sense based on my topics listed above.

Connection Topics

  • How to connect to your partner’s entire body instead of just their hand or back
  • The 3 types of connection & when to use them
  • The Details of Counterbalance
  • The 3 types of arm movement & when to use them
  • Matching the 9 arms

 

Musicality Topics

  • Matching Energy Changes
  • Overall Feel of Different Songs – Comparing Emotions & Stories
  • Volume vs Energy Changes and How They Relate
  • How To Predict Music (so you can dance to stuff you never heard)
  • Overall Feel Within Each Song – Changing of Emotions & Stories

 

Miscellaneous Topics

  • What Makes An Amazing Dance
  • Expanding Your Comfort Zone
  • Mastering Triple Steps
  • Managing Your Speed: From Porches to Cadillacs

Step 3: (5  – 10 min) Rearrange each category of topics from beginner to advanced.

Musicality Topic Order

  1. Matching Energy Changes
    • This is my first topic because it is super easy to learn.
  2. Volume vs Energy Changes and How They Relate
    • This requires knowing about Matching Energy Changes so it has to come after the above topic.
  3. Overall Feel of Different Songs – Emotion, Description, Story
    • This is easy to learn too but it is a little scarier for most dancers to attempt, so I will wait until they have been dancing a few weeks to implement it.
  4. Overall Feel within Same Songs
    • This is the same concept as above but it requires more awareness because the changes are more subtle.
  5. How To Predict Music (so you can dance to stuff you never heard)
    • This is an easy topic to learn and could be placed earlier but I think it is a more exciting topic after you have been dancing for a little while and experienced the struggle of not being able to predict the music.

 

Connection Topic Order

  1. The 3 types of connection & when to use them
    • Super easy to learn but will take a long time to perfect.  I will use these concepts in every future class, so I will teach it first.
  2. How to connect to your partner’s entire body instead of just their hand or back
    • Great for reinforcing the 3 types of connection
  3. The 3 types of arm movement & when to use them
    • I can teach the above concepts without this concept so it can come afterwards.
  4. Matching the 9 arms
    • Requires knowledge of the 3 types of connection AND the 3 types of arm movement above, so it comes after both.
  5. The Details of Counterbalance
    • Requires knowledge of matching the 9 arms.

 

Miscellaneous Topic Order

  1. Expanding Your Comfort Zone
  2. What Makes An Amazing Dance
  3. Managing Your Speed: From Porches to Cadillacs
  4. Mastering Triple Steps
    • These topics don’t require an order based on difficulty or previous knowledge so I am ordering them based on when I think the student’s will want this information.

Step 4: (5  – 10 min) Create your progressive class order by rotating topics.

Class Order

  1. Musicality Topic 1: Matching Energy Changes
  2. Connection Topic 1: The 3 types of connection & when to use them
  3. Miscellaneous Topic 1: Expanding Your Comfort Zone
  4. Musicality Topic 2: Volume vs Energy Changes and How They Relate
  5. Connection Topic 2: How to connect to your partner’s entire body instead of just their hand or back
  6. Miscellaneous Topic 2: What Makes An Amazing Dance
  7. Musicality Topic 3: Overall Feel of Different Songs – Emotion, Description, Story
  8. Connection Topic 3: The 3 types of arm movement & when to use them
  9. Miscellaneous Topic 3: Managing Your Speed: From Porches to Cadillacs
  10. and so on…

Step 5: (5  – 10 min) Label the natural energy level/feel of each topic.

Although each topic might have various energy levels throughout the topic, they usually have an overall energy level as well.  I label them based on this overall energy level and also label any clear changes.

  1. High – Musicality Topic 1: Matching Energy Changes
  2. Low – Connection Topic 1: The 3 types of connection & when to use them
  3. Very High – Miscellaneous Topic 1: Expanding Your Comfort Zone
  4. Medium – Musicality Topic 2: Volume vs Energy Changes and How They Relate
  5. Low – Connection Topic 2: How to connect to your partner’s entire body instead of just their hand or back
  6. Low to High to Very High – Miscellaneous Topic 2: What Makes An Amazing Dance
  7. High – Musicality Topic 3: Overall Feel of Different Songs – Emotion, Description, Story
  8. Low – Connection Topic 3: The 3 types of arm movement & when to use them
  9. Medium – Miscellaneous Topic 3: Managing Your Speed: From Porches to Cadillacs

Step 6: (10 – 20 min) Adjust your topics to have the energy flow that you want.

I like to start and end with high energy but my last class in the example above currently ends with medium energy.  I can either adjust the way I teach that class so it ends with high energy, or I can switch class 7 with class 9 so I end on a high note (or both).

I also like my topics to flow smoothly, usually avoiding having more than 2 topics of the same energy level back to back and usually NOT jumping from Very High to Very Low (or vice versa).  The transition from topic 2 to 3 above currently goes from low to very high, so I might want to make sure that the transition doesn’t feel too abrupt.  I can do this by adding a medium to high energy game or exercise at the end of topic 2 so it ends on a higher energy and smoothly transitions the energy for topic 3.

Exceptions: Sometimes, I want to emphasize a high (or low).  I love ending a series with a high energy but sometimes the last topic is medium energy and it really is the best topic to end on.  I can make the medium topic feel higher by making the topic before it very low energy.  This makes the change of energy seem more drastic so the medium energy ends up feeling higher.

After playing around with it, here is my adjusted order:

  1. High – Musicality Topic 1: Matching Energy Changes
  2. Low to Medium – Connection Topic 1: The 3 types of connection & when to use them + game
  3. Very High – Miscellaneous Topic 1: Expanding Your Comfort Zone
  4. Medium – Musicality Topic 2: Volume vs Energy Changes and How They Relate
  5. Low – Connection Topic 2: How to connect to your partner’s entire body instead of just their hand or back
  6. Low to High to Very High – Miscellaneous Topic 2: What Makes An Amazing Dance
  7. Medium – Miscellaneous Topic 3: Managing Your Speed: From Porches to Cadillacs
  8. Low – Connection Topic 3: The 3 types of arm movement & when to use them
  9. High to Very High – Musicality Topic 3: Overall Feel of Different Songs – Emotion, Description, Story

 

Step 7: (A lifetime) Grow & refine your topics.

If you want people to continue taking classes with you for a long time, you need to keep growing your knowledge base and adding more content to your arsenal.  For example, instead of only having 5 musicality topics, I now have 17.

My Current Musicality Topic Order

  1. Energy Changes
  2. Volume vs Energy Changes and How They Relate
  3. Overall Feel of Different Songs – Emotion, Description, Story
  4. Overall Feel within Same Songs
  5. How To Predict Music (so you can dance to stuff you never heard)
  6. Creating A Story – Pick a Basic,  Go Outside of the Basic & Return, Adjust the Basic & Return
  7. Rhythm Options
  8. Large Phrase Changes (A to B, chorus to solo, etc)
  9. Subtle Phrase Changes (A to A)
  10. Hitting the Horns, Pianos, & Other Surprises
  11. Being Your Own Instrument
  12. Measure/Bar Repetition (not sure if this is the right terminology but basically repeating patterns that are as little as 3,4, 6, or 8 counts long)
  13. Choreography – Surprising Your Partner (or the crowd)
  14. Texturing
  15. Clarity of Rhythms
  16. Single Rhythms Versus Double Rhythms (probably not accurate wording)
  17. Breaking Down Specific Dances To See How Well Different People Do In These Categories… Are there trends based on styles?

 

Bonus Thoughts

Topics can be full classes but they don't have to be.

Some of your topics might go well in the same class.  Sometimes you might find that a topic only takes half of class (or takes 1.5 classes) to cover.  The great thing about planning your classes with such a clear outline is that you can be more flexible with how things flow at a moment’s notice, confidently knowing that you can easily adjust your next class because it is so well prepared.

Details about choosing the topic order.

It is generally set up from things that are more clear and obvious (emotional changes & volume changes) to things that are less obvious (subtle phrase changes) or harder to do (texturing & single rhythms vs double rhythms).  I also might want to challenge them with one topic and then give them something easier in the next topic.  Plus, I might come back to some of the topics several times rather than try to get them perfect on the topic before moving on.  All of these additional factors can make your basic plan even better!

How to keep students coming back for more?

By creating this plan you can always know what you are teaching next.  At the very end of class, make sure your students know too.  Students don’t always show up every week, even when it is a series of classes they already purchased.  Improve the odds that they will show each week by quickly showing them what you will be working on so they can look forward to it all week long.  Make sure it looks or sounds exciting!  This one minute demo is more important than you might realize.

 

Your Homework

1. Set aside 40 - 85 minutes to implement this plan. Put it in your calendar or set an alarm right now.

It is super easy to read something, bookmark the webpage, and forget about it forever.  Don’t let this happen to you!  Don’t miss out on all the benefits just because you didn’t set an alarm. Remember the Benefits

  1. This 7 step plan will teach you the exact A-Z steps you can take to create classes that progress off of each other, while being interesting, offering variety and keeping your students coming back for more.
  2. By following our plan, you will gain the confidence that comes from knowing you have taken the necessary steps to choose the best possible path for your class series.
  3. The plan will clarify all your awesome material and prepare you for teaching workshops as well as series classes.
  4. Organizers looking to hire you will be impressed when you show them the work you put into your classes.
  5. The plan will allow you to be more flexible on the spot so your classes don’t get stuck feeling the same.
  6. This plan will save you loads of time (hours or even days)!

2. After you create your plan, tell us about it in the comments below.

If you want, share a link to your plan and start a discussion about what you like/dislike about it.  Maybe someone else will be nice enough to give you some feedback on your plan!  If nothing else, you will be giving inspiration for others to create plans too (which is awesome)!

 

How To Speed Up Your Learning & Improve Twice As Fast As Everyone Else

Dancing Tips , Free , Teaching Tips

How To Speed Up Your Learning & Improve Twice As Fast As Everyone Else

Become an active learner!  

Having a highly skilled teacher is awesome but not everyone has that luxury. Instead of relying on finding the best teacher, why not learn to be a better student? Not only will you learn more from the average teacher, but when you have better teachers, the combination will exponentially improve your dancing.



How do you become an active learner?

  • Find the opportunity in everything, especially the situations you think of as “bad”. Are there more leads than follows… how could that be awesome for you? Are there more follows than leads… how could that be awesome for you? Is the class starting late… how could that be perfect?  Give your thoughts in the comments below.
  • Use every second available to you. If you find yourself without a partner, practice the movement on your own, grab someone else who is partnerless and practice with them, or watch the other dancers to see what they are doing well, what they are struggling with, and why they are doing well or struggling. Test your ideas & learn from your observations.
  • Bring interest & enthusiasm. Teachers feed off of your attitude. It is very difficult to teach an inspiring class to people who come in with their arms crossed and stay as far away as possible from the instructor. At the same time, it is very easy to teach to a crowd of eager students and it is somewhat difficult to teach to those who are only somewhat interested. Show your interest and your teachers will find it much easier to be better teachers.
  • Actively look for the things you like & actively ignore those you don’t.  It is very easy to see something you don’t agree with or don’t like and start to focus on it and let it annoy you.  When you let this happen, you are likely to start missing the things you would have found valuable. Teachers are there to give you tools and inspiration, take the ones you like and forget about the ones you don’t.




Your Homework

  • Try out some of the suggestions above in your next dance class.
    • Knowing is NOT doing… apply your knowledge!
    • You can even learn from the comfort of your own home (or mobile device) with our Live Online Dance Training
  • Add your own thoughts in the comments below
    • Sharing with others is a great way to improve & it’s nice too!!!!


Dance it out,

~Andrew Sutton
Teacher in over 30 Countries, Creator of Dance Ninjas, World Lindy Hop Champion, American Lindy Hop Champion, US Open Swing Dance Champion, Enter the Blues Champion, & many other titles.

Use Minimizations Instead Of Exaggerations

Free , Teaching Tips

DANCE INSTRUCTOR – WARNING:

Exaggerating Can Slow Your Students Learning & Encourage Them To Stop Taking Your Classes!

Dance Instructors…

Have you ever exaggerated something to your students?

Did you know this might be slowing down their learning and encouraging them to stop taking your lessons?

Allow me to explain…

Clarifying the Benefits of Exaggerating

First, I’ll clarify, there can be benefits to exaggerating.

For example, when used with isolations, exaggerating can amplify what you want them to see. Just be careful that you are actually isolating the exaggeration. Otherwise, any additional movements you add to the exaggeration will distract from what you want them to see.

Also, exaggerations can be used for comedy.  Just be careful to use them at the moments they work best.  After all, timing is everything in comedy AND in teaching dance.

If you are using exaggerations before, or without the Minimization Technique (described below), you may be losing both the build up for your comedic timing AND the chance to dramatically affect the dancing of a large number of your students.

Plus, the more you exaggerate, the more likely your students will start to think they no longer gain value from your classes (even when they still can)…which can encourage them to stop taking your lessons!

Why might exaggerating slow my students learning?

VERY FEW dancers associate their own movement with an exaggerated example.

If you tell your students not to do something and you over-exaggerate it…yes, they will probably agree with you that it is something not to do, but it also becomes something that they think you are explaining for the benefit of someone else (or to make a joke). It isn’t them you are talking to because they are not doing that (at least not that obviously). Heck, even if they are doing it that exaggerated, they probably still won’t associate with it. Some part of their subconscious won’t admit it is them you are talking to.

Reality check: If you tell your students not to do something, and then a few minutes later they are all still doing it, it might be because no one realized you were talking specifically to them.

The Minimization Technique shown below will speed up your student’s learning while keeping them coming back for more!

 

Note: You can view additional info and examples below by clicking any text with arrows like this:

Click the text again & this info will disappear.

Benefits Of Minimization Technique

1. Your students become more engaged

It is very easy to zone out during class and miss some of the most helpful tips. Even the top students do it. If you are showing things that are obvious, most of your students will slowly disengage. However, when you ask someone “What is the difference between example A and example B?” and make it a very small difference… if they can’t figure it out immediately, they will ask you to do it again and maybe even from several angles. Now they are actively engaged in your material and their ability to learn has skyrocketed compared to when they were passively taking your class.

2. Gives your students a very strong reason to take classes from you

Students love to learn something new. When you exaggerate something for them NOT to do, most dancers feel it is pretty obvious and so they think they are NOT gaining new knowledge. But when you present them with a question that they can’t immediately answer, it shows them that you know something that they don’t, giving them the realization that you have something valuable for them to learn. It is truly an amazing technique because you can take something they thought they knew and show them how much more you can teach them about it.

3. Improves your connection and musicality

Being able to change the degree of subtlety in your dancing is a extremely beneficial skill for your own dancing. Most dancers have an “on/off” switch mentality in their dance ability. They either have good or bad connection. They are either musical or not musical. Good posture or bad posture. This is a very one dimensional (or maybe 2 dimensional) way to look at dance and it can limit your dancing. Instead, think of everything you do as being on an infinite scale and constantly practice your ability to adjust to different places on that scale.  This gives you the diversity to provide more accurate partner dancing with each dancer you encounter and allows for more textures in your dancing.

4. Your teaching becomes personalized instead of one size fits all

Improving your ability to show various places on the infinite scale (see #3 above), allows you to personalize the exact same material for different audiences.  Basics are something we can all benefit from practicing at all levels of our dancing, but not too many advanced dancers want to be treated like an intermediate, nor do the intermediates want to be treated like beginners.  Watch out for the one size fits all exaggerations, and personalize your teaching so your students see how to improve from where they are at.

5. Dramatically improves your students

Instead of telling your students “Don’t do this really exaggerated thing” that most people can avoid without too much difficulty, you are now requesting much more of them. Look at the difference between these two examples…

  • Exaggeration Example: Follows, your lead is leading you at 3 mph and you are going at 10 mph. Let’s try to improve that.
  • Minimization Example: Follows, your lead is leading you at 2.5 miles per hour and you are going at 2.6 mph. Let’s try to improve that.

With the minimization example, everyone is shooting for a much more accurate goal and even the ones who were going at 5 mph are going to come much closer to the goal than if they were given the exaggeration example goal to shoot for.

6. Makes your teaching stand out amongst the average teacher

Just by being aware of this, you are already a huge step beyond many dance teachers in the world today and you have the opportunity to take giant leaps to surpass the skills of many other instructors.

7. Allows you to teach higher level dancers

The higher the level of the students, the more accurate they will want you to be with your isolations and minimizations. As you improve your minimizations, you are training yourself to be able to show higher level dancers that you have something valuable for them to learn.

 

The Requirements

1. Practice isolating the change you want

It is very easy to exaggerate to a point where the actual thing you want to change gets lost amongst all the other things you are adding in to exaggerate the problem. For example, you might tell your students not to let their shoulder disconnect from their body and then in your demo you stumble or say “ouch” when you show the disconnected version. The students see the stumble or hear the “ouch” and assume their arm must be connected since they are not stumbling or getting hurt, etc… but the reality is that most people can still dance with a disconnected arm and never notice it because the end result is not always as obvious as a stumble, or getting hurt.

So a more effective technique would be to isolate the issue by showing version A, dancing well with a connected arm, and then showing version B, still dancing the best you can but with a disconnected arm, only letting it affect in the fewest possible ways (which will also be a great minimization).  This takes practice.

2. Retrain your body & your brain that you can dance well with 'bad' techniques

You might not realize you have the skills to dance well without a connected arm (see #1 above) or whatever else you believe is needed to have a great dance. However, that is probably NOT TRUE. You have the skill to do it… but you probably trained your mind (or been trained by others) to believe that it is simply not possible to dance well without that “good” technique. So if you want to isolate and dance well disconnected (or with any other “bad” technique), you will be fighting the years of accidental (or purposeful) training that has made you believe this isn’t possible. That takes very purposeful training to overcome. It is not hard to do, but it requires pin point focus and repeated practice.

 

The 6 Steps

1. Ask students: Does anyone see the difference between Version A vs Version B? (Version they are doing vs Version you want them to do)

Try to make the difference so small that no one can see it (but make sure there is still a difference so you are not about to lie).

2. Pause briefly to let confusion set in. Before any can respond, say: For those of you who can't see it yet, let me show it from several angles. Then show it from 1 or 2 more angles at the same minimization.

This allows those who didn’t see it at first to feel like they got a fair shot. It will also either help confirm they don’t know what you are about to share or allow them to feel like they figured it out on their own.  Both are great!

3. Let 3-4 people share what they think the difference is without giving away the correct answer.

Students learn more by sharing than by being told.  Plus, it gets them more engaged!  If over 50% get the answer correct, you might want to practice your ability to minimize more.

4. Say: Let me show it again with an exaggeration. Show it again while amplifying the one aspect you want them to change and explain the difference as you are showing each example.

Tell them exactly where to look (elbows, hips, etc).  Be sure to isolate the issue and avoid excess changes (like stumbling).

5. Say: But you all are NOT doing it that exaggerated. You are doing it more like this. Then go back and show them the minimized versions again.

Most of them will now be able to see it and if anyone can’t you can do a slightly less minimized version for them. Allowing them to see the minimization again is a key step in this whole process.

6. Say: Everyone try Version A & now try version B. Let them experience both versions & then practice the version you want them to do.

In order for someone to be sure to make a change, it helps to let them experience both versions side by side.  If you only try to get them to do your version, they might continue to do theirs without realizing it.  When they compare them, they can more easily tell if they are making a change or not.  Compare first, then let them practice the one you want them to do.

 

Your Homework

Apply this knowledge! The more you do, the more you learn & improve.

1. Use Minimization In Your Next Class

Pick one technique that you would like to teach with minimizations and practice teaching it.  Perfecting the teaching skill is easier to do when you don’t have to constantly adjust.  Once you become comfortable using it with one technique, you will naturally and easily start implementing it in the rest of your teaching.

2. Share This Technique

Sharing is a great way to learn & it’s nice!  Try one of these:

  • Teach someone about Minimization vs Exaggeration.
  • Share this article and mention one thing you learned from it.
  • Share one situation where you would use minimizations in the comments below.

3. Learn The Details

If you want to improve and learn even more on this and many other topics, here are some ways we recommend:

Please use the minimization technique and let us know how it goes for you! Add your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Dance It Out,

~Andrew Sutton

Teacher in over 30 Countries, Creator of Dance Ninjas, World Lindy Hop Champion, American Lindy Hop Champion, US Open Swing Dance Champion, Enter the Blues Champion, among many other titles.

4 Recommendations To Vastly Improve Your Teaching Skills

Free , Teaching Tips

How Much Time

Do You Spend

Improving Your Teaching?

With more and more teachers available today, students can be more picky about who they take classes from.
 

 

 
If you want to…
  • Keep your students raving about you for years to come…
  • Keep growing your student numbers instead of watching them slowly decline…
  • Stay at the top of your game…
 
…then make sure to consistently progress your teaching skills and learn more ways to inspire your students!  As Tony Robbins says, “If you are not growing, you are dying.” and that can be true in teaching dance too!

 

 
 
So, how do we improve our teaching skills?
 

 

Top 4 Recommendations

1. Blair Singer’s Master Facilitator Training ($7,000 plus travel) Although he doesn’t talk directly about teaching dance, you will learn a lot about how to control a room, how to handle any difficult situation with elegance, help people get past those “stuck” moments, and so much more that will help set you apart from the average teacher. I have been to several of Blair’s trainings and I can definitely recommend them!
 

 

 
2. The Teacher’s Retreat ($100 – $1000 plus travel) Dance instructors from around the globe come together for 1-5 days to share ideas and improve their teaching and dancing skills.  We have held over 10 of these retreats which have included some of today’s top instructors and they are a very intense and fulfilling learning experience.  These are currently on hold but you can still sign up for them on the website and we will let you know when they are available again.
 

 

 
3. Hire Ted Maddry ($200/class review + travel) Ted has an amazing eye for helping teachers improve their teaching skills (which is very different from helping someone improve their dancing skills).  I hired Ted to attend my classes at the Boston Fusion Exchange and then go over what I could do to improve them.  It was extremely valuable and now I hire him to do this at some of the Teachers Retreats so the attendees get a smaller version of this amazing experience.  You can also hire Ted to do this for your classes and he has even offered to do it for $120/class review + travel, if you mention the “Dance Ninjas Discount”.
 

 

 
4. Teacher Training Online ($47/month, or $364/year, no travel) Learn from all the trainings I have done, without the cost or the time!  This is a great way to keep growing as a teacher without putting in the thousands of hours of time and tens of thousands of dollars it normally costs to do everything above.  Note: I still highly recommend everything above!
 
 
 
I could add many more great trainings to this list, but I want to give you the best of the best that I can vouch for.  That said, any training is better than no training, so even if you don’t do one of mine, or any of the ones above, please do something!  Read a book on teaching, attend a regular class and take notes on what is working and what is not working.  Anything is better than nothing.  Don’t let your skills stay stagnant.  Keep improving, keep your inspiration alive, and keep your students coming back!  
 
What methods or trainings do you recommend for improving your teaching?  Add them in the comments below.

  Dance It Out!

~Andrew Sutton Teacher in over 30 Countries, Creator of Dance Ninjas, World Lindy Hop Champion, American Lindy Hop Champion, US Open Swing Dance Champion, Enter the Blues Champion, among many other titles.

How To Get The Attention Of 30 To 3,000 Dancers In A Matter Of Seconds…

Free , Organizing Tips , Teaching Tips

How To Get The Attention Of

30 to 3, 000 Dancers

In A Matter Of Seconds…

Have you ever been in a situation where someone is trying to speak but they can’t seem to get the room’s attention?

You can often see the frustration start to set in amongst either the speaker or the few people who ARE paying attention.  Besides wasting time (yours and those who are also waiting), this can also drop your status in the eyes of those who see it happening. Plus, it can devalue the attention you are getting, making it less likely for those paying attention to do so in the future.

So how do we lead the room to give us their attention?

The simple answer is to teach them how to respond.  There are many ways to do this and I want you to develop your own but this can take time.  In the meantime, try one of these two methods.

 

1. Shave & a Hair Cut

This is when you clap (or stomp, or sing) the rhythm known as “Shave & a Haircut” and your crowd responds with the last 2 notes “clap clap” (or “stomp stomp”, etc).  Here is an audio clip so you can hear this rhythm.

I use this all the time for dance classes.  It gets their attention very quickly and I can also use it to teach rhythm and musicality.  Awesome!

I also use this to immediately silence crowds of over 3,000 people.  It is extremely powerful, especially when combined with stopping the music (next example).

 

 

2. Stop & Raise

Stop the music and raise your hand.  When people see your hand raised, they too then raise their hand and immediately stop their conversation.  When anyone sees anyones hand raised, they do the same.

This is taught by many high level public speakers.  It works great for general public speaking, but if you want it to work in a dance environment, it needs some adjustments.

 

The “Stop” – Adjusted

Stopping the music is used to catch a large percentage of the crowds attention quickly.  If you want this to work really well, you need to stop the music abruptly in the middle of the song so it grabs attention.

If you are in a class setting, this is no big deal as the students are used to the song cutting out.  In this case,  if you really want to get their attention quickly, definitely cut the music instead of fading it.

If you are in a dance setting, cutting the music will likely annoy your dancers who are dancing to the song. In this case, let the song finish, then turn on the lights and shout “announcement time” or something that makes it clear you are about to speak.  Then play another cheesy song (or something they would NOT normally dance to) as people are getting settled and you are making your way to the announcement area.

  • This can be as little as 5 seconds of music that is just prepping everyone for the announcement.
  • Be playful with it. Use theme songs that everyone will recognize.
  • Change it up every couple of announcements so people start to wonder what you are going to choose next.
    The thing that I really like about this is that you are now making the announcements entertaining and something worth listening to.So many people treat announcements like they are not important and if you are going to treat them that way, my suggestion is don’t do them. If something isn’t important enough to treat as such, then why are you announcing it in the first place?
  • It literally only takes a few seconds to find a new theme song.
    I googled “most famous theme songs” and found over 100 options within a few seconds.If you don’t have internet at the dance, you can save them to a youtube channel or spotify playlist and access them from your smartphone.
     Here are 12 to use for your first year.
  • Eventually, you won’t even need to shout “announcement time” as the majority of the crowd will understand from the song choice and the rest will follow the crowd.

 

The “Raise” – Adjusted

Raising the hand is used to catch the small percent of the crowd that still didn’t catch on when you stopped the music.  In a dance class setting, raising your hand is already something people do on a regular basis so we need to adjust it to be more attention grabbing.  Instead, you could have everyone take 2 giant steps forward, or have everyone sit down (especially if you are about to give a longer talk).  What else could you substitute?  Add your ideas in the comments below.

 

 

The Keys To Leading Your Room

Teach Them

Remember I said, “The simple answer is to teach them how to respond.”  If you just do “Shave & a Haircut” and expect them to respond, you will probably be sorely disappointed.  Instead, explain the concept, plus why it is important, and then practice it a few times with them.

Now some of you might have seen me teach and be thinking, “Wait a second, I have seen you do this with crowds of 600 people without needing to teach them”, but that is not quite accurate.  You probably just didn’t see me teaching them.  Before I interacted with that large crowd, I might have already taught a smaller group of them this technique in a smaller class setting.  Remember, I am constantly teaching all over the world, so at many big events, I already have hundreds of students who know these concepts.  That said, if I am not sure about it, I can just test it.

If there are enough people who know the technique, then I can do it and the rest of the crowd will catch on by the second or third time.  If I am not sure, I might just say to the crowd, “Alright, let’s see how quickly you guys get this.” and then try it.  If it takes more than two times to get the entire crowd to follow along, then I teach it to them.

 

Adjust to the Mood

Shave & a Haircut can be a very energetic technique.  It is great for when you want to energize the crowd (ie: at the end of class, or right before announcing a performance, etc).

That said, you might not want to increase the energy of the room so quickly (ie: at the end of a really soft song, late night when everyone is tired and ready to sleep, right before you are about to do a moment of silence, etc).  In these cases, it is usually better to adjust your attention getting technique to fit the mood that you want to encourage.  An easy way to do this is to do a softer, quieter version of Shave & a Haircut.

Most likely, several people will not match your energy and so you will probably have to teach your crowd this too, even if you already taught them the regular version.

I usually do this by first doing it softly and if they don’t match my energy, I do it again but I match their energy. Then I do it a third time back at the lower energy, and almost everyone will now catch on, and then I explain it.

This is a great addition for reminding them to match energy in a musicality class.

What are some other ways to quickly get the crowd’s attention while keeping a soft atmosphere?  Share your ideas in the comments below.

 

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

Now that you know what to do, practice it!  There are probably going to be aspects of this that you will want to improve before doing it publicly and the only way to figure those things out is to try it and analyze how you did.

Here are some ways to practice:

 

Dance It Out!

~Andrew Sutton

Teacher in over 30 Countries, Creator of Dance Ninjas, World Lindy Hop Champion, American Lindy Hop Champion, US Open Swing Dance Champion, Enter the Blues Champion, among many other titles.

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