The Dancer vs. The Teacher

I think there’s a pretty common misconception plaguing the dance world- If you can dance, you can teach. And while maybe on the surface that makes sense I think we are totally missing the idea that these are two skills so different that they have almost no relationship with one another. The ability to not only do but to also TRULY instruct others on how to do what you do is a gift and it should not be assumed that because you can do one you can or cannot do the other.

There are plenty of A M A Z I N G dancers- I see them around me, I see them on the internet and I’ve also taken classes from them and walked out thinking “what in the actual fuck?” just because you can demo a gorgeous combo does not mean you can teach it. The ability to teach has many layers - including classroom management, informational lesson planning, clear and effective communication and also a deep and multi-faceted understanding of what you are physically doing. In a medium like dance- so physical, expressive, and intricate understanding the why’s and the how’s of your movement is incredibly difficult and verbalizing it? A whole separate thing. This is not to say “If you can’t explain effectively what you are doing your movement is no longer special, or beautiful or creative or art” It is however to say that, if you can’t explain it to multiple human beings from different walks of life in many different ways, you probably shouldn’t be teaching it.

I’ve had the privilege to learn from many incredible teachers throughout my career. When I was a teenager I had an amazing professor, I was also an egotistical 16 year old who believed I was headed to Broadway and had it all figured out. I frequently remember thinking (and I’m not proud of it) Why is she teaching me? She can’t even do what I can do. With my older wiser eyes I look back on this time and see this person for the incredible and risk taking choreographer she was, for her ability to understand and explain movement even the ones she could not do. Her rich knowledge was rooted in anatomy and even though she perhaps couldn’t nail the complicated turn patterns I was able to - she coached me, she observed me, she guided me through adjustment after adjustment until I was nailing quadruple pirrouettes and fouettes every single time. These are lessons that I pass onto my own students and still utilize today… even if those quads are looking a lot more like doubles these days. This person was a true teacher- she had shed her ego, harnessed her creativity and her knowledge and uplifted student after student.

They say those who can’t do, teach. But I also disagree with that- I believe and have encountered those who can both dance and teach- they are rare and gifted movers, lovers of people and frequently people who have committed entire lifetimes understanding movement and should be respected and hired and booked and treasured. My hope here is to spark some thought and conversation between other dance instructors but also to encourage students, to look long and hard at their instructors- the true merit of a teacher is not how many likes their demo video gets but in how many of their students walk away understanding the concepts and the information at the end of the hour.

XO

Lily

I'm Back!

Are blogs dead? IDK - I love a good podcast but there’s something about a quick read that still sparks an excitement in me. So I’m back…

After some serious IG story soapboxes, some controversial Facebook posts and a lot of things being said about me and what I think and who I am…. I figured, “Hey! Might as well share what I think in my very own words on my very own platform!”

Now here’s the thing- I feel insanely passionate about the art of dance- I’m in shock and sorely disappointed in the level of dance instruction and professionalism across the Latin Dance Scene- I don’t believe in Franchise Teams, I’m horrified at the sexism that is perpetuated in our community and I have intention to talk about ALL OF IT.

In addition to all those sexy little topics, I also have a wealth of knowledge surrounding dance, proper training, nutrition, self-care, entrepreneurship and feminism! And I also intend to share ALL OF THAT.

I’ve had a lot of people warn me that speaking so passionately about issues could hurt my business… And I’ve heard them and respect those opinions immensely. But in a world where right and wrong is so blurred I feel convicted to speak up, create awareness around issues that directly effect me as a woman, as a business owner and as an artist. Maybe you want to hear what I have to say, and maybe you don’t. Either way I hope it stirs conversation, provokes thought and makes waves.. no matter how small they are.

sit down and pour yourself some tea,

we’ll talk soon.

Lily

Owning a Business

Wow. One year since my last blog post.  Time flies when you're .... having fun/owning a business/ trying to have a social life/ trying to figure out this whole adulting thing. 

A lot of you wonderful, sweet souls and friends have asked how things are going with the business and all I can say is that it's been the most exciting and exhausting and rewarding and wonderful time of my life. Growing something that is yours and only yours forces you to dig deeper than you have before. It allows you to discover things about yourself you did not know before. It helps you find your limit and then foces you to push just a little further. 

As an artist this time has been incredible. Having access to studio space whenever, wherever and for however long I need it is priceless and I think my work shows it. I'm excited to show you what we've been working on. 

As a business owner this time has been full of adventure. No one can prepare you for the things that pop up. The ideas that don't pan out and the things that simply just fall into place. With growth comes change. The studio is changing, my vision is changing and I am changing. 

Thanks for being patient with me, for loving me from near and from far, for words of support and encouragement.

Happy 5 Months to my passion project baby Studio Azul Seattle. 

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Social Dancing

           Lately I’ve felt compelled to share a little something about social dancing. In a community with constant social dancing events I frequently talk to my students about it- etiquette, tips, tricks and frustrations. I try to prepare them to be excellent leads and follows in the classroom setting and listen to their stories and experiences on the dance-floor. Unlike many Salsa Dancers I did not start my career as a social dancer. I started it as a performer. Learning how to truly follow and appreciate and accept the process of social dancing has taken time and practice.

As a dancer from a competition background there has always been a strong desire and expectation of perfection. Every foot in its’ right place, every arm perfectly styled and every count effortlessly accented with body movement. If you’ve been social dancing you know this is not always the case and there are just those nights where nothing seems to go right. I would leave the socials and clubs feeling discouraged, uninspired and frustrated. After 20 years of dancing I couldn’t seem to “get” something that seemed so easy for others? How could it be that after all these years of training and understanding of technique I couldn’t let my dance be truly effortless?

The simple answer took years- Expectation.

We all have expectations for ourselves, I’m the queen of setting expectations. I’ve known this about myself for years but it wasn’t until I really examined how it affected my social dancing that I understood how having expectations was making me terribly unhappy. By slowly but surely releasing the expectations I had for myself I began to rediscover that blissful out of body feeling I have always received from dance. Suddenly it didn’t matter if I missed a 6,7 or did a double instead of a triple. Suddenly dancing was about embracing the dance as it was intended- a beautiful and complex tapestry of dance and music, perfection and imperfection.

There is a simple way to explain this principle. Social dancing is exactly as it sounds- it is an incredibly social event where you are communicating nonverbally. When we are having verbal conversations our expectations are different. Sometimes we are meeting someone new, sometimes we are having an incredibly complex and thought provoking dialogue, sometimes the script is uninteresting, there are times we disagree with someone’s opinion on a subject. Dancing is the same. When we can let missteps go as sentences we didn’t hear in a crowded room. When we can forget about moves we just didn’t hit with certain partners as different points of view and when we can acknowledge that sometimes a perfect dance is the right subject with the right person I feel we can truly explore our own dance while giving to our partners.

Social dancing takes from me just as much energy as it gives. Physical touch with others is a powerful way of transferring energy if we are aware of it. I have turned to a quality vs. quantity approach in my social dancing. I only go out when I am open to giving and receiving energy from others. Sometimes I have a lot of joy and love to give and other times I go to receive understanding and acceptance from others. Since I have found this greater understanding of what social dancing is I feel more fulfilled and inspired by all of my partners, the music selections and the sheer energy in a room full of dancers.

Regardless of your involvement in social dancing or performances, whether you love social dancing or hate it; I hope that reading this has broadened your perception. I hope that you’ve discovered or been inspired to love and accept yourself in a new way or maybe that you’ve become more aware of the energy you exude through your dance.

As always I welcome comments, private messages and emails to deepen this conversation.

 

XO

Lily