Festival workshops are useless if you are a social dancer...

#1
Today i took a festival workshop for the first time ever. I went because my friend wamted to go and was complaining about how most of the leads were clueless. So i bit the bullet and went.

In terms of the teaching, it wasn't bad. The teachers explained every movement in detail and went really slow, then double time. However, the crowd was just horrible. A lot of material flew over the heads of many and almost every partner i rotated to were outright cold or stoned faced. It took one full rotation ( about 20 couples) before some ppl started to warm up to me. It just wasn't fun at all and was more like torture. If it wasn't for my social dancing experience, i would have been totally lost and stressed.

The workshop was marketed for advanced dancers, but i doubt there was a single advanced dancer in the crowd. If this is how workshops are in a small festival, i can't imagine what it would be like in a big festival.

I have no idea what people see in festival workshops. People completely overrate their abiility and it dilutes the workshop pool. Having not taken a festival workshop before, I am amazed at how bad these workshops are for social dancers. The few good dancers there i think were the assistants, who showed equal amounts of apathy and were there to make sure people rotated to the right partner, but were on autopilot.

Basically, what i learned today is that workshop crowds are cancer, cliquish and completely below me.

Rant over.
 
#3
The only useful workshop I took in El Sol was a beginner Rueda one, and the only reason why I considered it useful - is because the teacher was hilarious, and the lesson was fun - and fun was what I needed at that moment.

The rest were either useless material (uninspiring style with very little breakdown of technique), or just (very!) poor teaching ("See how I lead this, and do it like me").

BUT (!!!):

-Perhaps I just happened to pick the wrong workshops...
 
#5
The only useful workshop I took in El Sol was a beginner Rueda one, and the only reason why I considered it useful - is because the teacher was hilarious, and the lesson was fun - and fun was what I needed at that moment.

The rest were either useless material (uninspiring style with very little breakdown of technique), or just (very!) poor teaching ("See how I lead this, and do it like me").

BUT (!!!):

-Perhaps I just happened to pick the wrong workshops...

Funny because I felt the teacher was good, i definitely learned something but still had an unfun experience
 
#7
That is one of the reasons I think it's better to focus on classes that are about technique, musicality, particular dance style that you can not learn from your local teachers, etc. In El Sol I absolutely loved the Salsa history 2 hour workshop by Rodrigo and Bersy. It was a lot of fun and one could learn a ton of stuff about music - granted, it might not be directly (at least not easily) applicable to social dancing.

When going to pattern-focused classes, it's always about having luck finding a good spot (so that you actually see the instructors) and the dance partners. Practically all of my dance friends with whom I went to salsa festivals prefer to go to a class with a dance partner and not change during the class.
 
#8
I have never understood what drive people to these events. I have always seen it as part of making dancing a never ending pursue plus a business.

I would pay/preffer to go to salsa "festivals" to enjoy dancing with real popular bands than going to salsa "congresses" to learn some moves with great salsa instructors.
 
#10
So in short: no I did not. Would not attend if solely based on partner dynamics. A great teacher can't save a horrible class
Neither can we control it...The problem is this :No matter the warning sign about difficulty for beginners, as you noted, most will still attend

I was invited to teach a class in Cuban style in a good sized UK city a few years back The owner ( a teacher ) told me it was a beginners class. Eight people were there and the mix was ; 2 couples ( interm ) 2 single ladies ( Interm/Adv ) 1 single lady, absolute beginner and one guy the same.

So, even in a controlled environment ,it for the owner it was all about the money..

By the way the class teacher was a Cubano ( who could not make the class), and to my surprise, they had never been told about Clave or hold, and very little fundamental techn.
 

vit

Son Montuno
#12
Strange. I thought everybody here (active members I mean) attended at least some salsa festivals including workshops, except obviously people that are teaching like terence

For me, festival workshops have positives and negatives, compared to local classes

As positive, teachers are way better overall: Frankie's body movement class was 100x better than any local body movement class. Adilio Porto - one of zouk creators, and some people that learned from him - no comparison among local teacher either. Kizomba taught by angolan guy looks like kizomba, while that taught by local guys looks more like local social dancing with some added styling. Or rumba class by Cuban guy compared to local teachers. Or WCS by one of better teacher from the States compared to local. Etc. Of course, not all instructors on festivals are good, but usually you have possibility to chose among several classes at the same time, if you bought the workshop pass because teachers looked promising

As negative, classes are usually big, so you can't see much. On local classes with a few couples, you have some possibility to get assistance from the teacher. But anyway, even in the congress classes with 50+ couples, some teachers were dancing with us, so for instance I had a chance to dance for a minute with Petchu's partner Vanessa, which I didn't have on the party because she wasn't dancing on the party (and other similar situations). So at the end, total dancing time x quality of the instructor was similar or even better than on local classes. On the party, you sometimes have a chance to dance with celebrities, many times not

I usually didn't attend advanced classes because things taught there were usually too complicated to be used socially, and 99% of the room, including me probably, wasn't up to the task

As about crowd, didn't see much difference between local and festival classes. People generally overestimate themselves on both, and on the other side, they expect me to dance as good as the instructor ... I'm used to that and take it as is - it's similar when dancing socially. I attend the class to improve myself regardless the partners. There was only one occasion when I stopped changing with other partners danced only with my GF on the class - it was on an intermediate local salsa classes with really good foreign teacher, where all students were at way lower level than my GF that even doesn't dance salsa socially, so it was the only reasonable thing to do. In all other classes, I always changed with the partners, just to see the differences how people react to my leading. And maybe to feed my ego, being able to lead problematic partners where bigger egos in the class failed :p
 
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#13
The thing is: You can't get enough (or any) personal feedback in such crowded classes.

Those workshops usually fall into the "see what I do" category, and if I wanted to learn new ideas by observing something without breakdown - I could just watch videos of people dancing.

So for a crowded workshop to be valuable, the instructor either needs very inspirational, or the type who makes you 'drop a penny'.

*The most educating "Salsa" lesson I have ever taken was actually a Jazz lesson. Not because of the moves we learned, but because he made me finally understand how to convey my emotions via dance.
 
#14
The thing is: You can't get enough (or any) personal feedback in such crowded classes.

Those workshops usually fall into the "see what I do" category, and if I wanted to learn new ideas by observing something without breakdown - I could just watch videos of people dancing.

So for a crowded workshop to be valuable, the instructor either needs very inspirational, or the type who makes you 'drop a penny'.

*The most educating "Salsa" lesson I have ever taken was actually a Jazz lesson. Not because of the moves we learned, but because he made me finally understand how to convey my emotions via dance.
Was that in Israel? Curious now...
 

vit

Son Montuno
#15
Well, with the quality of local teachers, it's sometimes better not to get personal feedback :p

On some festival classes (though mostly smaller), teacher first asked the class to dance socially for a few minutes, then decided what to teach, which I think was a good idea

Of course, having local BR teacher better than most salsa megacelebrities in the local class with a few couples and taking his privates is 100x better that those festival classes, but not much people have such luck I suppose, at least not for some acceptable amount of money ... but I always live in fear that our next class will be the last one ... like it happened with salsa teacher that I mentioned in previous post after about a month
 
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#17
Typically instructors and organizers like to announce "advanced" workshops at congresses. Most attendees like to think they can manage "advanced". The best instructors know how to lower the level to what the attendees actually can handle w/o dumbing it down.
It is fascinating to watch the top level instructors do that. They are usually NOT the big name stars. Its CAN TEACH vs CAN DO.
 
#18
Strange. I thought everybody here (active members I mean) attended at least some salsa festivals including workshops, except obviously people that are teaching like terence
Dont get me wrong. Dancing is one of my main hobbies but the more I get to know my local scene and people in the forums. The more I notice how people have different views in Salsa.

For me salsa is playing an instrument, singing and dancing. But people tend to focus on the dancing part to very intricate/specialise levels.

It's kind of like a baseball player so specialised in an aspect and ignoring the rest. A good example of this is a left handed reliever pitcher that has an arsenal pitches based on fast balls. This guy sees baseball from the point of view of his specialization but baseball is so much more.

I see people like that, seeing salsa from on1/on2/Cuban, teachers, conferences, etc. I personally find most of those things unimportant or seeing this trough a microscope..
 
#20
I went to a few festivals and some workshops for rumba/afro Cuban, reggaeton and pachanga.
If there are too many people, not really worth going as there is barely any space, as was the case of Maykel Fonts workshop, although it was good to see him in action.
Also you have to have the background and foundation or some sort of training already , otherwise it's pretty useless as the workshops tend to be quite intense and fast paced.

I would probably go again if there are great instructors and not too many crowds.
But not for patterns as it doesn't interest me.
 

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