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What to expect as you progress

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Learn & GrowLast year I began teaching occasional comprehensive workshops in which we cover all the movement vocabulary and concept material for each of Level 1 and Level. In that workshop, we also defined what are the skills students are expected to be learning at each level. Here is a copy of my expectations at each level as it pertains to my classes in tribal group improvisation. How do they compare to your expectations of yourself? Where do you or your classes fall in this kind of continuum of expectations?

This is also included in my large and ever-growing Student FAQ on my website, which is divided into multiple sections of information covering everything from what to wear to your first class, to what it takes to perform, and everything in between.
Details after the jump…
What should I expect to know before moving from Level 1 to Level 2?

Goals of a Level 1 Dancer:

  • have FUN! Smile and laugh often
  • get “into” your body and in touch with new muscles and ways of moving
  • attain greater grace, strength, and physical control
  • understand that your personal development will be in your own time in your own way – never compare yourself to others, only to how you are progressing each day, week, or year
  • learn to isolate and smoothly execute foundation movements
  • begin to refine transitions, advancing from individual movements to “dancing”
  • develop a “tribal mind” – to be able to organize and access individual movement information
  • connect with other dancers and together create an environment of joy and safety
  • learn that dance is a journey of many challenging and rewarding steps, not a goal to be chased
  • ask questions as they come up, and did I mention “Have fun!”

What should I expect to be learning in Level 2?

Goals of a Level 2 Dancer
In addition to Level 1 goals, a Level 2 dancer strives to…

  • keep having fun! Never take yourself or the dance too seriously. It should always be a source of joy first and foremost.
  • further develop grace, strength, physical control, and increase endurance
  • refine foundations through continued classes and study in Level 1 material
  • develop greater confidence in leading and following
  • integrate new Level 2 concepts with courage and patience with yourself as you learn new things. Sometimes going up a level feels like “starting all over again”; but accept this challenge with an open mind and you will grow exponentially in your dance
  • learn to hear the music and respond to the phrasing and emotional pulse through appropriate movement and staging choices
  • learn to really “see” your fellow dancers and connect in the moment–be fully present both physically and mentally, and learn to share in that with your fellow dancers
  • develop deeper connections with your fellow dancers through mutual kindness and encouragement
  • understand that determination, humility, enthusiasm, and patience are the hallmarks of a strong student, and we are all of us students throughout all our lives. Never rush the journey.

Also important, a committed Level 2 dancer should consider the following…

  • develop a home practice, with as much discipline and regularity as you feel capable of
  • start a dance journal with class notes, thoughts, ideas, etc. If you have never done one before, ask your teacher for ideas on how to begin.
  • explore the history of the dance, past and present. The internet is an amazing tool–use it! Your teacher is also a great resource, so ask questions when they arise for you.
  • explore other styles of dance, through classes, workshops, and online research such as YouTube (but a strong tribal dancer must keep their movement within their chosen format pure – a unique challenge!)
  • become more actively involved in the dance community through attending workshops and shows
  • understand that confidence paired with simplicity is a powerful combination in a dance and a dancer. Less truly is more.
Follow Shay:

Shay Moore is the director and primary instructor at Deep Roots Dance in Seattle, WA. She loves writing, movies, costuming, knitting, cooking, and bellydance to the moon and back again; and loves her amazing husband and doggies even more than that.

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