Last Tuesday was the fourth Practica. And while it’s been going great, I’ve been looking for ways to improve so that I might eventually be able to achieve a setting where the collaborative effort to improve is the main focus of the meeting. Last week, I think we got a step closer.
MATERIAL WE WORKED ON
We started off with the second half of the Big Apple, which 5 – 6 people have been dedicated about learning (including myself — lots of research before every meeting!). We moved at a decent and steady pace with excess amounts of repetition to ensure that everyone was learning the choreography solidly. It was tough, but I think that most everyone really got it.
The second half, we worked on social dancing more. I asked if anyone had brought something they wanted to work on, and Matt started talking about his shoulder — how he’d been told a few weeks ago that it pops out on 3&4, and he doesn’t know how to fix it. So that started a round of advice for both guys and girls on how to keep frame intact, especially on the 3&4 and 7&8. For girls, it also meant some advice on how to know when to come in, and how to make that stretch last without killing the momentum by coming in too early.
Another person wanted to work on front-outs, and then one final person wanted to learn a kick variation he’d missed that we’d gone over in another practica.
The cool thing about this practica was that while I went and worked with one person, everyone else broke off into two or three little groups and worked on their own thing. And then we switched it up. It was a collaborative effort of learning. I was almost giddy by the end of the practice session!
After the Practica, a few of us went to Thinking Man’s and discussed what we learned, swing dance community gossip, and where the practica was headed in the future (not necessarily in that order).
First, I heard suggestions echoing my desire for the practica: collaborative learning. I learned that of those who are showing up, they really want to have a space where they can bring a youtube video or an idea of a move and try to work on it. The fact that others’ goals so closely reflect mine makes me incredibly excited, because it means that this practica has a real chance of not only surviving, but growing stronger.
I learned that there is little desire to keep learning any other famous choreographies (which I expected). While the few people who have been showing up lately really want to learn the Big Apple (and a few more did who were not able to make it), the desire is more for working on social dancing.
Someone suggested learning solo jazz movement and how to piece things together and add your own stylings — and I agree! There is such a need for that in my own life. So someone suggested learning it through the Big Apple Call Line — just learn a few moves every week at the beginning of class, go through some call-outs as warm up, and then move on. I think I am a fan of this idea, and there’s someone who is willing to lead the Call Line (which I am wary of, since I am unfamiliar with it), and it would be a good way to increase the unity of the group through a main group activity.
A lot of people have thanked me for starting this up — even those who haven’t been able to make it yet are incredibly excited about this practica. It’s also inspired GT to start a similar practica, though I’m unsure yet whether or not the public will be invited (I hope so! I would certainly show up when I could). I see it as a selfish thing — a way for me to learn how to teach, in essence — as well as something which holds me accountable. Because if I’m not accountable for practicing, I just won’t do it. So while I’m not sure why people are necessarily thanking me, I am really appreciative that they are supporting this effort. And I’m so excited for next week.