“Teachers are not Super Beings” shocker

Most of us dance students have an ingrained image of our dance teachers as founts of all wisdom, dance Gods, and general all round gurus. Coming from MJ, I think this image is actually re-inforced by the teaching model:

  • teachers are “raised up”
  • they have a mike
  • they exude confidence with their slick script-driven classes

This all makes them difficult to approach – even now, after many years of dancing MJ, I find it tricky to do so with an unknown teacher. So MJ teachers are revered by the average student.

In AT – and other dance forms, such as salsa – you get the same “reverence” phenomenon to a point, but this can be counterbalanced by the disagreement (and, yes, backbiting and politics) between AT teachers. One of the few advantages of such competition / conflict in the AT world is that it generates a healthy approach to some points – any consensual agreement has been reached through a much discussion and debate. In addition, AT classes are usually taught in-the-round – students are in a circle around the teacher, who typically doesn’t use a mike, who often invites feedback and discussion, and who can see and comment on your own efforts. This all makes AT teachers a bit more approachable.

So, AT teachers often simply express a point of view – and after enough experience with enough teachers, most students will realise this, and learn to take from the class what they find relevant, and to discard the rest.

However, us cowed MJ students can take a while to adjust to this difference, and to realise how much difference there is between different teachers. When we go to an MJ class, we know what we’re going to get, and we don’t have to worry about whether this class is “Right” for us or not. So it can take a while for us to adjust to this difference.

So, in summary – shop around, your first AT teacher doesn’t have to be your only AT teacher.