Monday, March 4, 2013


Yeah, that's a general post title. At the time of this writing, I'm at a dance workshop. The workshop leader is a young woman who is clearly a very good dancer. Problem is, she's not a great teacher.

She's teaching about shifting momentum from the lead to the follow. Watching her teach has renewed my respect for my profession. There have been several occasions during which I have thought of something I want to interject that could help her instruct her students. She keeps mentioning that the follow needs to use the lead's momentum. She never explains what that means though. I suppose it's supposed to be common knowledge. But it is clear that not everyone does.

Some of the dancers are not following some of her basic instructions. She's explaining what they ought to be doing but not providing specific enough feedback for her students to realize what they're doing wrong. I should say that I'm not a dancer and I would not be able to do what these dancers are trying to do. But I can see that some of the dancers are not doing what she was doing exactly.

This is happening in part due to not adequately assessing the dancers' performance.

I just wanted to share this because its pointing out to me how much better learning is if we do our jobs well: adequately assess, provide specific feedback.

That said, the dancers are getting the moves. They're getting it through practice, specific conversations about the moves, and determination to get it right. That said, the dancers who are better listeners and observers are getting better at the moves more quickly than those who are not. 

That is all. 


  1. Hi. I certainly don't disagree with you on assessment and feedback. I don't know anything about dancing. But I did see an example somewhere of how a dance choreographer might use math, that I thought I would share.

    If a choreographer was planning a dance, he or she might start with a model of the stage as an xy coordinate system, draw the starting location of each dancer, follow each dancer around the grid (possibly as equivalent vectors), and make sure from the grid that no dancer is danced off the stage. Do choreographers ever do anything like that?

    Jerry Tuttle

  2. I have no idea if choreographers do that. The only choreographers I've ever worked with were community theater people and they did things more by the seat of their pants than by calculation. I like the idea, though.


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