I taught with Jocelyn up in Victoria, BC, over last weekend. It was a heady mix of teaching euphoria, rocking DJed tunes, inspiring students, and fun dancing. Mix with severe sleep deprivation, shake well, and serve. Voila -- my favorite workshop teaching experience to date.
Jocelyn is a delightful instructor. She balances my serious, focused energy with playfulness. We generally agree 100% on dance theory and technique, even though she has never trained with Brenda and Barry. (Just like Ruby -- I really like to work with people who have a different background, yet have surprisingly reached the same conclusions in terms of the most efficient and graceful way to move.) Her style provided a valuable counterpoint to my own.
The students were all deeply grateful for the workshop. Blues had piqued the interest of the scene, but most had not yet been exposed to the national dance scene. They were chomping at the bit for an authority to come in and show how its done. Eagerness translated into discipline, as students stayed focused and pushed themselves through every class. Attention would stray at the end of the day -- particularly for Sunday -- as exhaustion set in, but that's to be expected. They all did an excellent job processing the troves of technical and conceptual material we threw at them. I was particularly pleased to see community leaders like Jay and Chris in the class, working equally hard. I have great respect for small-scene leaders that remain humble and keep a passion for learning.
Myself being a fan of having my brain exploded all over the place (which Barry and Brenda are all too good at), I had to reign in my excitement and not present too much material. It's a careful balance. Experiences like these are valuable opportunities to refine my curriculum and teaching style. Students became involved in their own learning, sometimes making requests for material, different ways to exercise a concept, and when to move on. I was pleased with my own readiness to answer any question from a technical and conceptual level. My dance training has clearly worked out, and moments like these validate the countless hours and the tens of thousands of dollars invested in my dancing. I always want to possess a deep theoretical and physical understanding of presented material.
Being the constant center of attention was both savored and overwhelming. Such is the dilemma of an introvert that feeds off positive reinforcement and attention from others. Been a long while since I was seen as the out-of-towner everyone needed/wanted to dance with. Since the scene is smaller, it was easier to handle all the focus. I could create the space to be alone or take care of myself without saying "no" to an inordinate number of dance requests. People were generally spot-on in recognizing when I was taking a break from people, and only approaching me when I actually opened my energy outward. Plus, there were an incredible number of students eager to help by buying tea or food. (Cheesecake for lunch on Saturday: excellent!)
I think European Blues Invasion marked the beginning of a commitment to crafting a full experience for workshop attendees -- which includes going out and dancing until way, way too late. This workshop was bringing this commitment to a slightly different context, with a smaller leadership team.
I offered to DJ 12-1:30am on Saturday. I extended it to 3am, because people were eating up whatever I threw at them. I pushed forward because I wanted them to have an unforgettable house party experience in terms of the music. I wanted them to witness what can be created with enough time, talent, and practice by an international DJ. I wanted them to feel the ache of legs the next morning for not stopping to rest all night.
People to thank… Chris, the mastermind behind the whole operation. Humble, yet capable, he was constantly checking in on us and making sure all was provided to make us feel comfortable. I love an organizer that understands the value of going the extra mile for their independent contractors. It inspires a spirit of reciprocation, whereby I was eager to give extra to the scene -- through DJing for longer, offering a video review of the weekend, and always being present at all dances to dance with everyone. Jocelyn and I got to dance fairly little, actually, since we were so focused on everyone else. Jocelyn, for being such a damn good dancer, co-instructor, and friend. It was nice to lean upon our bond when the going got crazy. I hope to work with you again soon. Julia, for being our dedicated personal assistant, cheuffer, caffeinator, and deliriously funny conversationalist. She's an amazing woman and so supportive. Not dealing with logistics of getting food or getting around made SUCH A DIFFERENCE for us. We could direct all our energy toward crafting a memorable experience for the Victoria scene. (And for the box of truffles!) Jay, for all the miscellaneous event support that he did without Chris even asking him to do. And for being a leader in the scene and supporting this event whole-heartedly. For welcoming me to Victoria on Thursday, and hosting dances and a space to teach privates. Tina and David, for housing us over the weekend, despite being devastated by sickness. Also, for relentlessly promoting the weekend. And for great conversations about dance, travel, the intersection of Balboa and Blues, kind words of gratitude, and community leadership. Matt, for the photos of the weekend. Maddy, for the pizza and cheesecake on Tuesday. Eileen, for making me say up WAY too late on Tuesday talking about NGO work in West Africa, dancing, and life. All my private lesson students for wanting to cram even more information over the weekend, for their kind words, for the inspiring opportunity to work with you individually. You astound me with your passion for learning. All my workshop students, for being focused and diligent and yet full of joy and laughter. You make me happy to be a teacher.
Thank you all so much for a fantastic event. A huge smile comes to my face whenever I think back on it. I look forward to coming back soon.