My wish is that every performance would have a participatory event for all ages. The model is the Ballet Austin Family Workshops before performances where children can watch professionals from the coming performance and try out some of the moves. The other model is Carolyn Sutton’s Participatory Nutcracker that invites the whole family to come in costume and walk through the story of the Nutcracker with dancers coaching and demonstrating. Informal situations happen at Middle Eastern events and after some modern shows when the audience is invited to join the finale.
This would look like one stage with the mamma and the papas and the babies and the serious students all in one place complete with a dress up closet. Dancers would group the crowd and teach small portions of thier dances with interludes explaining the process of the choreography and the rehearsals.
I can not imagine the delight of families with all ages experiencing ballet folklorico, ballet, contemporary modern, contact improvisation, belly dancing, on and on.
The construct of The University of Austin Dance would be an umbrella that would take a dancer’s application and based on their desires and skills, refer them to teachers or classes throughout the city.
The offerings would concentrate on different styles of ballet, modern, jazz, and improvisation offered in the Austin area and also refer to every other style of dance including flamenco, Middle Eastern, ballroom and others.
Applicants would be informed of any visiting professionals offering clinics in Austin studios. A web group would connect dancers with local professionals to discuss decisions and concerns.
The University of Austin Dance would be a connection between all the studios, professional dancers, and professional companies. Advanced students would have the advantage of learning many styles of dance and concentrating on specific techniques to improve their dancing.
Students could travel to different studios, or Studios may choose to have the teachers come to them and offer a clinic for the applying student and also classes for other students in their school. This would be a way for studios to broaden their class offerings while strengthening their strongest dancers.
Ballroom dancing is a challenge for the man and woman who must not only learn to communicate but also to deal with their belief patterns about each other.
For men of my generation, the given is that women more often than not have more experience at dancing than men. Women have been perfecting their moves since childhood while men have spent their time learning a specific set of sports moves to achieve a goal.
I have grown to love the challenge of dancing together and the new learnings about myself. Here is a list of problem beliefs that I have had to deal with:
How do I deal with my awkward learning while trying to be the man?
How do I deal with her always knowing what is right?
I am the one suppose to signal her what to do next? How do I take charge?
How do I say I am uncomfortable with criticism without starting a fight?
If I take charge, will she really follow?
How can I be confident enough to not worry about all of this?
After a tense moment in dancing, stepping on her feet etc., how do I break the ice to bring us back to being intimate?
How do I stay connected and intimate even when I am struggling with the steps?
Dance training builds specific brain connections using sequences and movements that are unique from other activities.
At the core of dance is the exploration of a wider variety of movements than other goal oriented sports. Dance uses the complete range of motion in every joint and every body part. This is especially important for the child whose brain is able to build maps of infinite variety and also for the aging who benefit from more variety of brain connections.
Besides the sheer variety of movement, dance is detailed training for the coordination of hips and shoulders and also for crossing the mid-line of the body, both known to build superior connections in the brain.
Crossing the mid-line of the body is a key element of dance using circular motion and training each body section-head, shoulders, rib cage, hips, legs, arms, feet, and even eyes- to move together or in opposite directions.
Coordination of shoulders and hips is the essential learning of a growing child who learns to roll over and to crawl. Dance uses detailed exercises to build on that learning and to increase effecient body awareness and coordination.