It seems that in every workshop, there’s some very recognizable dancers who come out to play. Whether it’s in weekly classes or congresses, you’re sure to find these dancers around the world and in every style.
1. The Questioner
You guessed it – the Questioner has a question about everything. Whether it’s foot placement, connection, or some tiny detail about which muscle engages on count 2.5 of the pattern, they will have a question (or 10).
Sometimes, the questions are so obscure or off-topic that the teachers are not able to answer them. But, every once in a while, the Questioner becomes the savior of the class when they ask that really simple question everyone else was too embarrassed to ask.
2. The Freak-Out
The Freak-Out spends the majority of the class hyperventilating and near tears (even if only internally). The anxiety in the air is palpable near the Freak-Out. They feel that there is no way that they’ll ever get the movement; they’re just not ‘good enough’.
Rather than dance, the partners of the Freak-Out spend the majority of the class trying to calm the person down. You’d figure these people would be too anxious to dance – but, they keep trying. And eventually, they stop freaking out (as much).
3. The Frustrated One
The Frustrated One is similar to the Freak-Out, except the Frustrated One gets angry about the thing they can’t get yet. Sometimes, that anger is self-directed. Other times, it manifests as a pervasive, negative energy towards their partner.
The Frustrated One is one of the most difficult to deal with, because they often direct negative energy towards their partner. This is especially problematic if both people get frustrated, or one has low self-confidence. It rears its head even more when a person is hungry or tired (frequent states at congresses and events).
4. The Joker
The Joker makes a joke out of everything. Often, it’s a dirty joke. Sometimes, the Joker in the room is also the teacher.
These dancers can be great ‘comic relief’ on serious topics, and can boost the class morale during ‘boring’ drills… when in moderation. But, sometimes these dancers spill into being a serious distraction. Or, they can create discomfort with people who do not appreciate their brand of humor (particularly if it’s dirty).
5. The One Who Thinks They Get It
They come into class with great ego. And, that ego stays. After one to two attempts, this person thinks they’ve got the movement perfect (and any mistakes are their partner’s fault). The One Who Thinks They Get It may be very “patient” with their partners – but that patience still blames their partner for all the mistakes. Put simply, the focus is always on the other person to improve.
These students often take workshops far above their dance level. While challenge is great, aiming too high can leave other students frustrated with the person – and a teacher may not be able to progress the class.
6. The One Who Actually Gets It
On the other end of the spectrum, you have the people who are absolutely gifted at workshops. After a few passes, the movement is actually working – even if it defies common-sense that they grasped the concept that quickly.
Sometimes, it can be a relatively inexperienced dancer. For whatever reason, the movements just ‘click’. But, these dancers are prone to pattern-ruts. Their ability to synthesize material can lead to an over-reliance on learned patterns on the social floor.
7. The Expressionist
This is the person who abhors structure in favour of ‘expression’.
Instead of coming to class and learning the technique, they loudly exclaim that the structure of the dance is too ‘confining’. They don’t want to keep their shoulders still to fix their frame – it’s expression. They don’t want to stay on rhythm – there’s other things in the music!
Their focus is on what they feel is free interpretation. Very often, these people feel an affinity for things like contact improvisation or Fusion, where they feel free of rules. But, unbeknownst to them, there are rules and technique there, too. They just don’t know about them yet.
8. The “Steacher”
Instead of coming to class as a student, this person is more preoccupied with teaching everyone else how to do the movement or technique. Give them a partner, and they’ll explain exactly what they think is wrong (regardless of whether that thing is actually incorrect).
In another variation, they may be preoccupied with identifying how it ‘feels off’, and insist on calling the teacher over to correct their partners at every opportunity. In all situations, the feedback is never self-directed; it’s directed at their partner.
9. The One in La-La Land
“Rotate partners!” the instructor calls. But, this partner is off in La-La Land. Maybe they’re thinking about the move. Maybe they’re intensely studying the structure of the walls nearby. But, regardless of what they’re doing, they’re not present in the class.
Other features include forgetting items in every class, and frequently rotating in the wrong direction during partner switches.
10. The Notetaker
This person takes prolific notes and videos – of everything. About 10% of them actually use the notes and videos they take.
They prefer recordings from multiple angles, both with and without descriptions. They also will never be caught dead without memory on their camera, and a notebook & pen.
11. The One Who Doesn’t Trust the Teacher
This student loves to compare everything that each teacher has ever said to them. And, they’ll tell the teacher exactly why they think what they’re teaching is wrong.
Some teachers try to defend their points. Some explain how certain concepts aren’t mutually exclusive, or why others have a different way of approaching the same concept. A few just say “…..no. Let’s continue.”
Of course, this student raises a confusing question in the mind of the teacher: why are you taking classes with me if you don’t think I know what I’m doing?
12. The “Perfect Student”
There’s some people who are just really easy to teach. They learn well, they have a great attitude, and all the other students love dancing with them. When they give feedback to partners, the Perfect Student avoids blaming the partner – and involves the teacher when a problem really does need help. Very often, they also help lift their partner’s spirits, diffuse frustration, and manage bad behavior.
The Perfect Student isn’t necessarily the most talented or the fastest learner. But, they pay attention to what is said, and work hard to apply it. Teachers don’t fear giving feedback, because they know it will be taken as constructive criticism – rather than being taken personally, or completely disregarded.
No “Bad” Students
There is no one in a workshop who is intrinsically ‘bad’ at learning. But, there are people who have certain walls, defences, or insecurities that prevent them from becoming the best student they can be.
For example, ego, blame, or frustration is often a cover for insecurities. Some people feel very judged when they’re failing or doing poorly at something new – so they ‘puff up’ to try to cover the cracks. Often, this gets directed at their partners.
On the other hand, some people have internalized a feeling of worthlessness or low expectations so that they don’t get ‘let down’ if they fail to do something right. So, they fail to full commit to learning. After all, there’s nothing to be let down about if you don’t really ‘try’ (or so they think).
Others simply want to be noticed. They want to be praised or stand out – so they ask questions or consume the teacher’s time as a way to validate themselves. If they get a one-on-one compliment or comment, it means that someone important has taken an interest in them.
Regardless of what types of students resonate with you, you’re capable of being a great, positive force in any workshop or class. Cultivate the great student in you, and you’ll see bigger gains in your learning and reputation.