Why should I be interested in switch or co-creative dance classes?
I am so excited to be offering Switch Intensive I Co-creative Prep and Co-creative basics classes for the first time this winter, as well as hosting the first monthly co-creative social. For more information: https://www.co-creativedance.com/current-classes-workshops-projects-social-activities/
I am grateful for all the support from the dance community with this project and I am looking forward to see it grow. But today I wanted to write to the people who might be feeling that co-creative dance is a little out there for them, and someone who might be wondering why co-creative should interest them. I believe the best thing I can do is relay my own personal experience. When I first started dancing, I was very shy, and I had never really danced before, so I was happy to follow it definitely made my transition into dance easier. And I stayed solely a follow for at least the first 6 years of my social dance life.I never thought about learning how to lead until I started helping teach dance classes. During that time I got frustrated by the lack of ability of the main teacher to explain and break down movements during classes. But I felt a little powerless when trying to teach as I only knew one part of the dance. So, that brought me to start learning how to lead, which in time brought me to be teaching dance classes by myself, teaching both the leading and following and dancing socially both as a lead and follow almost equally. Which in turn brought me to the co-creative project.
Over time as I learned more and became knowledgeable in both roles I realized the gift that knowing both roles of a dance gives. Or should I say knowing the whole dance. As leads and follows we learn our roles, often listening to our teachers tell us to do things a certain way, we comply, but we do not get the full understanding of why a movement is executed is this exact way and we often downplay the importance of getting it “right” and may settle for “close enough”. But when you experience both sides of a movement, you also gain an understanding and awareness of how the movement feels for the other person doing the other role. You also understand the whole movement and how it works for both partners so typically you want to do the movement in a way that feels nice to your partner. This awareness gives you a different perspective and can really help you to become better in your dominant role. Basically it can be a great help to becoming a better dancer. So even if you are not very interested in co-creative dance, I would really recommend to everyone to learn at least a bit of their non dominant role as a way to become a better more sensitive dancer. So any of the switch classes are a great way to better yourself as a dancer, even if you don’t choose to use this knowledge to dance in a co-creative way.
I also find that in many cases there is a barrier in social dancing between leads and follows talking through a movement that doesn’t feel good. There is a sort of stigma around having these kind of conversations. It goes both ways, the follows feeling that either it’s always the leads fault, or thinking that it’s always their fault and vice versa for the lead. However there is little in-dept talk about figuring out that is the actual problem and working together to try to resolve the issue. I believe that by understanding more the other role by, for example, taking switch classes, it also helps to open those conversations and actually find the real problems and resolving them together instead of blaming each other, and also being able to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Both leading and following have their challenges and by experiencing both sides, people generally become more understanding and respectful of the other. To me it also shifts the focus from me to us (me and my partner) and I become more focused not only on executing the moves but on connecting with my partner and on dancing a way to help this dance to be a good experience for my partner too.
So, this is all to say that for me and also for all the people I know who dance both roles it has helped them become a better dancer because through experiencing the other role, the importance of how our dancing felt to our partner became more important and we worked on making our dancing feel the way that we liked to feel when dancing the other role. It also made us more attentive to the comments of our partner on our dancing. I also feel that as teacher knowing the whole dance (both roles) is very helpful in not only being able to teach all the parts of the dance, but also to understand the dance better and to be able to give better feedback backed by experience including looking at both roles when analyzing a problem. The two biggest things for me is heightened awareness and heightened sensitivity to how your partner is dancing and feeling the dance, which makes for more connected, flowy and respectful dancing.