Activities & Classes
Things you will learn at almost all the retreats
Very specific things that you request because you are struggling with them.
How to keep your student numbers increasing instead of decreasing from week to week.
The nine different ways to use your arms to improve your partner connection as a lead & follow.
How to explain and get your students to understand grounding.
How to keep your students light and still connected.
How to market for your dance event.
Change from knowing you need to do things but never getting around to it, to actually doing the things you know you need to do.
Activities in All Retreats (Click here to see how these activities get integrated into a retreat schedule.)
Action Plans: Many events can give you lots of ideas of things to practice, or implement into your dancing, organizing, teaching, or life, but they all rely on you to actually implement these ideas on your own (and we often forget to do this). The action plans are when we each get 30 minutes to work on something that we want to implement. During these 30 minutes, you work with a buddy and the buddy's only job is to help you implement this action directly into your dancing, organizing, teaching, or life.
Aha's: After each class & activity, we spend a few minutes talking about the things that impacted us strongly during this class. Aha's are also known as the "light bulb" moments, epiphanies, or simply put, things we want to remember.
Classes: Each participant teaches 1 class to the other attendees so the event also largely depends on the attendees. My goal is to figure out what is special about each participant and what they could teach better than most of the other participants. How? With some people this takes some phone calls & emails as most people don't really know what makes them unique & special when it comes to their dancing. If you are one of those people, don't worry, I have ran 8+ retreats, talked to 50+ participants, and I am always able to figure out what makes someone special. If for some reason I can't figure this out, don't worry, I wouldn't invite you and put you in the position of teaching people something that wasn't special. You can trust me to only accept you if I feel you are going to bring something of value to the group. Plus, if you don't know what that is yet, this alone could make the retreat worthwhile for you.
Class Feedback: Get constructive feedback on how to improve the class you taught. Learn what your peers would keep and change about it. Learn from hearing everyone else's feedback for all the other classes too.
Activities in Past Retreats (These will not necessarily be the exact activities for your retreat but it can give you an idea of the style of activities we strive for. Click here to see an example retreat schedule.)
Analogies, Drills, & Games: We pick a few teaching topics/goals, like 'having a flexible frame', or 'being grounded', etc... Everyone shares their favorite analogies, drills, or games they use to teach their students how to acheive these ideal dance techniques.
Dance Feedback: Get constructive feedback on your dancing from at least half of the retreat attendees (hopefully all). Learn what you can do to make it even better or get some quick ideas on how to change things up and get yourself trying new things.
Focus Board: Through out the retreat we all write down ideas of things we would like to do during our free time, ie: have a discussion on how to teach without a dance partner, play improv games, go for a hike, do a Yoga class, etc. Then when we have the free time, (while eating, during breaks, at dances, late at night, etc) we choose from this list of topics and anyone who doesn't want to take a break can join in.
Improv Games: This is a chance to relax and have some non-dance related fun. If you have a favorite game, share it with us.
Lab Experiment: The objective was to explore the differences in dance styles/methods within the group, specifically by watching couples dance side by side and looking for/pointing out comparisons and contrasts.
Possibilities of A Wealthy Dancer: I often teach a class on exploring the possibilities of increasing your income as a dance instructor/organizer. Making over $100,000 per year by teaching dance (without overworking yourself) is actually a very realistic goal if you learn how to harness your knowledge. Warning: This class is not designed to make you $100,000 right after you take it. Instead, it is designed to give you a framework to start working towards significantly increasing your income.
Teacher Trainings: When Ted Maddry attends a retreat, I ask him to lead some teacher training classes where we each teach a 10 minute class and he stops us mid-class to give us critiques on our teaching as we go. This gives us a chance to implement ideas directly into the classes we are teaching at that moment and is also a huge eye opener as to what can make you a better teacher. Ted has trained professionally to do this style of teacher training and it shows. I saw him do this in another camp and was in awe at the amount of information I could learn about my own teaching flaws by having him do this for me.
Taking International Teachers Classes: We held a retreat at the Beantown Dance Camp in 2009. For that retreat, we worked it out so Beantown let us join in on any of their classes for free. We took a couple of classes from some of the top international teachers in Lindy Hop and then met back up to discuss what we liked about the classes and what we felt could be improved. For me, working on improving classes from the best of the best is a big step to becoming a great teacher.
Classes in Past Retreats (These will not be the exact classes for your retreat but it does give you an idea of the style of classes we strive for. Click here to see an example retreat schedule.)
Bringing Energy to your Lessons: Exploring the teacher’s role in class as well as different methods of keeping the students engaged at all levels.
Giving and Receiving Feedback: Feedback is a sensitive issue and this class really helped give us tools to give and receive feedback well. Plus, it also provided us with a great structure to share the concepts with our students.
Finding your "Monkeys": One of the main goals for one retreat was for everyone to find their good and bad "monkeys". A monkey is something that you don't know about your dancing (or about your personality, etc) that is either good or bad. Many people who know you usually know your monkeys, but they are often oblivious to you. This class helped us to learn how to find our own "monkeys" and how to politely help others find theirs.
Marketing your classes (& yourself): We worked on some seriously effective edits to our bios, and lots, lots, more.
Solomon's Favorite Swingout Technique: This class went over the opposition of frame and hips involved in the swingout which helps create a great style and feel in the dance.
Non-Evil Arm Leads: This class went over the difference between an arm lead and a body lead and an arm follow and a body follow, and showed how both arm and body leads can feel great as long as the follow matches with either an arm or body follow. If you don't have this technique implemented in your dancing already, this will heavily add to your dancing technique (for both leads & especially follows) without taking anything away from your body leads & body follows. If you already have this in your dancing but haven't thought about it that much, this will help you explain things more thoroughly to your students and help fill in the dance puzzle a little more.
Improving Body Awareness: The aim of this class was to introduce touch, temperature and muscle work to improve our body awareness and apply it to connection. There were some great ways for getting people to feel the difference between moving from your center and not moving from your center as well as many other great things.
Exercises: Frame, balance, and posture exercises and experimenting with varying amounts of tension/weight.
Teaching Beginners To Dance: Held a physical discussion forum on what are some good techniques to teach a beginner how to dance. Some brilliant exercises were brought out during this, including having the follows hold their right wrist with their left hand to help keep their frame (try it, it works great!).
Hip Hop Lindy Hop: A great morning class that inspired an awesome jam circle to liven up the day.
Tai Chi For Lindy Hoppers: An exercise in awareness of your partner and working with them and the music to create something that is truly a team structured dance and not just an individuals dance (and we learned a nice dip at the end of class too).
Borrowing Tango Concepts: In this class, we looked at some basic concepts from Tango and thought about how they applied to our lindy hop.
Copycat Class: The objective was to explore the diversity in dance styles/methods within the group, specifically by looking at how our swingouts differ.
Neutral Connection: This class was focused on the moments in the dance where the connection is so shared or so neutral that either partner can gain control either for a moment of creativity or for a permanent (or semi-permanent) shift in the lead.
Attitude Makes A Difference: This class showed how confidence can make a huge difference in your dancing - this was followed by an exercise on giving positive compliments which I am sure has improved all of our confidence levels more than we could have ever imagined! Very impactful!
Massage Circle and Balance/Connection Exercise: The aim was to teach the following: 1: You can never fully give or receive if you are trying to do both at the same time (apply to lead follow). 2: Balance and Connection improve when both partners are able to meet in the middle (excellent counterbalance/placement of body weight and support). She also did a mini Latin Styling class.
Stretching, Massaging and Contact Improv: The instructor led the stretching each day and also an educational massage class as well as the crazy contact improv class that closed off the weekend. This was one of those classes that would have been totally different if it had been done on the first day and I am glad it wasn't!