1. Why does it seem so difficult for students in dance classes to coach one another?

We're in this boat together, if it doesn't float well, it's maybe due to both. And if it sinks, we'll both suffer from it :-). If for instance a double turn doesn't work well for a certain couple, it would be great that they both share their knowledge to try and get to a better result. I know it's sometimes hard to tell the bitter truth to someone you may know only from the dance class, but this way you'll both learn. Of course the coaching needs to be friendly, polite, careful. Careful, because one never knows, your opinion may be wrong ...

The situation now is that often there isn't much coaching. Or sometimes there are people who see coaching only from one side: criticizing the others ;-).

Dare to coach, dare to talk with the others. If you're not sure call the cops. Sorry, call the teachers ;-).

2. What could men and women attending dance classes learn from one another?

A lot ;-). To my humble opinion men could learn that the object they are dancing with is actually not an object, it is a person, that needs to be respected and that can be injured. I'm sure many men would be very surprised if they would be followers every now and then in dancing. Because they would see 'Waw, this is scary, someone else is doing stuff with my body!' The guys often do not understand that it is somehow easy to be in control, they are not going to be who will get hurt or moved around in a way they don't like ...

A solution? Easy. Men should be following much more. They would understand the situation of the ladies better AND they would learn a lot. Because that's after all what we are here for, isn't it? To learn how to dance? Or isn't it? I believe that in order to learn, to become a better dancer you have to place yourself in a situation to learn: don't go in a level that is too high for you, don't go to a bad teacher, don't go to a level that is way too low for you etc. If men would learn how to follow in salsa, they would become better dancers for sure. And better leaders ;-). The reasoning is simple: how can you ask someone to do something if you have no idea what that actually means for this someone?

But well ... I know, we are guys ... Couple of years ago it was even less 'done' to follow as a guy. When i invited some male friends of mine to dance with me, their eyes filled up with fear or even panic. Afraid to look ridiculous in front of other dancers. It is still not done, although it happens more and more often in our little scene over here, so let's hope it develops. 'It's against nature' i heard a guy once yell at me ... Better not imagine what he thinks of gays ... Masculinity and leading. Masculinity and the fear of the touch of another man ...

If men would follow more they'd learn a great deal of technique as well: they would have to learn how to spot, they'd learn how to spin better etc.

What would ladies learn if they would take the other role?

Well, for instance, they would maybe become a bit more patient as they would discover that leading is not actually that easy. They would maybe start coaching the guys a bit more instead of complaining with their friends about this or this or that guy 'who can't lead a bit'. Seems to be quite a popular occupation amongst lady dancers, to criticize guys without too much pity. I guess it's the reaction against so much bad leading, lack of respect, the fact of having to follow someone. Which is indeed not always so easy. 

If ladies would lead more they would understand how important all these things are that teachers tell their students in salsa: 'Ladies, follow your arms, keep your body compact, stay on your line, spot' ... They would see how some followers are very difficult to lead as it is completely unpredictable where they'll be after this or that move.
 

Anyway, these are just some random thoughts, meant to provoke some discussion, maybe some reflection. I don't pretend at all to know, I just felt like starting this discussion to see if something interesting would come out of it. So please feel free to react, comment or criticize :-).

Carl

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