Friday, September 16, 2011


Hold one, two, three, four and one, two, three, four, and turn open fan and pose! That was basically the essence of my teaching experience today. I started ballroom dancing in junior high and ever since then dance positions, rock steps, and pivots have been etched into my subconscious.

Recently at BYU, I’ve been taking a Latin style ballroom class and currently we had learned a rhumba routine. It’s a slow, smooth, romantic, that requires methodical foot dragging and subtle hip twisting. So I called up one of my female partners and we organized a time to teach a few of our friends the basic steps.

We met in the activity room of our dorm, I tuned some Michael Buble and we proceeded to demonstrate “new yorkers”, “fans”, and “la cucarachas”. Slowly, our friend’s faces dropped with confusion, but yet their eyes lit with anticipation to learn how to dance. My partner and I first taught them how to walk to the rhythm. Rhumba is interesting because you don’t start on beat one as you would in swing or cha-cha: you start on beat two and pause on beat one. At first our friends were confused, but gradually s they figured out how to keep the beat and move in time with their partners. I was so proud! There’s a great satisfaction to teach a skill to others. They most likely will forget the steps by tomorrow but nonetheless, they will carry that knowledge of ballroom dance for the rest of their lives.

Its interesting to switch from the vantage point of the learner to the teacher. What’s even more surprising are the similarities between the two. The most striking similarity is the amount of humility required. If a learner is prideful, they risk missing critical information and the teacher is rendered useless. When a teacher is prideful, them the learner gets annoyed and the transfer of knowledge is disrupted.

I was grateful to have another teacher their helping me out. She knew skills, such as the lady’s steps, that I couldn’t teach. With the combination of her knowledge, we were both able to teach more effectively than we could have alone. Knowledge doesn’t have to be taught via one person, sometimes tag-team teaching is more effective. Like our civilizations class. The two-person teaching method really invigorates the learning atmosphere.

Ballroom dance is a folk knowledge that creates strong bonds between two people. When two partners nail a routine, there’s a sort of mutual excitement and sense of companionship. I will always relish my ballroom dancing knowledge, and hope I can have more opportunities to teach others so that they can have that same connection I’ve felt.

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