Wanted to blog a little about my Monday night Collegiate Shag class.
I've heard via studio staff over the past year on multiple occasions that newcomers were saying my shag classes were far too 'advanced' to keep up. This doesn't surprise me. Over the past year's worth of run on this DM shag class, the class has become progressively more advanced as the student base became stronger. Now days, it's fierce in those Monday night classes. So fierce that one of the more senior students just won her first competition. It was her first time shagging outside of NYC, first comp, and an easy first place. And I honestly believe she's not the only one who could have done that from the class.
That aside, I think most would agree that shag has a super steep learning curve. And of course, newcomers walking out of class quickly mixed with some hardcore dancers wanting to move to the next level is every instructor's dilemma. I've chosen for the past year to place more of an effort in working on on the advanced side of shag. I did so mostly because there simply didn't seem like there were enough newcomers flowing through to make teaching newcomers an option. And because I think that if nobody's really rocking the shag, there will be no newcomers. [check out this related article if you are interested.]
Well, there seem to be more and more newcomers coming in now. And up until recently I think this issue was really intimidating potential shaggers, especially in my class.
I thought a lot about the dilemma and came up with a different formula that seems to be working, at least for shag, and at least for right now. Rather than splitting the class into two classes, we've changed the structure of the class to be more all levels simply by changing the way content was delivered and then asking students to practice differently. And, members from the 212 shag masters troupe are there to pair off and give individual coaching if a newer student doesn't quite feel comfortable trying content. When paired off, maybe the pair works on a similar move/connection, or even just principles. The point is, it's much better designed for solid learning for newcomers and advanced dancers by leveraging the different skill levels in a different way.
The results have been pretty awesome thus far, at least I think so. Newer people are sticking around and picking everything up quickly because of direct and applicable coaching, and they get to try out all the good stuff the senior students too. And when the more advanced students pair they're trying similar but more advanced versions of the same motion, connection, pattern, etc.
All that said, shag classes are starting up every month.
I'm hoping that we get some guys in, and of course, newcomers to shag encouraged to attend.
Also, thanks to the NYC shag community for making this class so successful. I think you cats are all rocking the shag like NYC hasn't seen since the 30's.