Local classes are the lifeblood of any dance community.
Workshops, camps, and competitions are merely fleeting nodes that connect a much larger network of disparate nodes; they are the glimmer that fascinates us but lack greater substance.
Local classes are the breeding grounds for new dancers, they foster the initial relationship people will have with the art form. From the basics they learn from day one, to the atmosphere of dance events, to the focus of the dance; the local scene socializes expectations.
Local classes are the roots of the movement, they feed and nurture everything that grows out of it. The cycle of students flows back on itself, as local teachers introduce new students, students become intermediate then advanced dancers, who then become local teachers, introducing more students. Without local classes scenes whither and die.
Local classes allow students to cut their teeth on instruction, performance and competition. They foster strong social bonds which support a scene and create new advocates for the art form.
Why I Gave Up Local Classes
It’s hard work and compensation can be scarce.
After nearly four years helping build the scene, maintaining a presence, and teaching in Montreal, I gave up on local classes. I wanted the benefits without the hardship – that elusive dream of traveling dance instructor. I wanted to bounce from fleeting node to fleeting node without the responsibility of feeding the roots.
Guess what? It doesn’t work that way.
How It Should Work
Perhaps one of the best examples of a teacher, organizer and scene advocate is Carla Heiney. She stretches across three domains and works exceptionally hard within all of them.
She travels the world teaching, competing and performing with exceptional caliber. She helps organize a node of her own, Boogie by the Bay. Lastly, perhaps most importantly, she is one of the most active local teachers, organizers and promoters. She runs Lindy Central, works with local universities, works with local troupes. Somehow she even finds time to fly to LA for T.V. spotlights on So You Think You Can Dance and Time Warp.
If we devoted half the energy Carla does to building our own local scene and not skipping out of town for the next fleeting glamour event, there would be more work, reward and joy to go around for all of us.