Almost a half a century ago when learning Creative Dance and Choreography with Laura Foreman in some Long Island community center, I was introduced to Labanotation, a way of recording basic dance movements. And then a couple of years later I studied Israeli Folk Dance, Leadership and Choreography with Fred Berk. He also broke down each movement and step in a dance. His Israeli Folk Dance albums included small booklets with instructions how to dance the included dances. His approach made it possible for everybody to dance, not only those gifted/talented with superior dance intuition. Most "teachers" simply say:
"Copy what I'm doing. Just do it."But Fred broke down every step into the musical notes, counting out the 4/4 beat, including telling us when to pause. As a gym teacher, I used this technique explaining to my students that they can dance with their minds in control, rather than guessing.
During the same period of time, my two years in Stern College, I was learning Israeli Folk Dance with Fred. I also learned dance movement, with Allan Wayne, who emphasized proper alignment of the body when dancing.
Now, what got me onto this long tangent? It's the New York Times article about the lengendary Olympic diving champion Louganis, who is now coaching. And what's the secret technique behind Louganis's great success? It's mastering basic movements, just like the way I was taught to dance and I teach reading.
Too much of modern, from mid-twentieth century on, education is:
- "Feel good," don't criticize and correct the kids too much.
- Forget about details and grammar.
- Guesswork over exactitude.
Now, back to my household chores...