Starting Sunday 11th August, after our 2019 Winter Ball, we’re changing the way we run our advanced groups, so in order to enroll in these group classes it will be essential that those members have passed an intermediate 2 exam. Watch the video of Ben and Michelle talking about the changes.
In the past, QuickSteps has never been strict about group attendance.
We are an inclusive, relaxed studio, and when we started we simply didn’t have many groups; we also didn’t have many members at intermediate and advanced levels. Over the years our numbers have grown, we have members at all different skill levels, and we now teach around 51 groups every week as part of our ‘Experience Series Timetable’ which changes every 6 weeks.
When you consider beginner 1, up to advanced 2, there are 84 different experience levels across the 14 dance styles we teach. Fitting these in to the limited available spots on the timetable presents its own challenges, but we try to provide good variation and accessibility.
Recently we’ve had some really good feedback about groups at all levels, and the timetable, and we’re taking multiple steps to improve it on all fronts. The feedback about advanced groups is just one part of this.
Catering to All Levels
We have a broad range of groups across beginner 1, 2, intermediate 1, 2, and advanced 1, 2+ as well as Come & Try groups, and special groups. The higher up the levels you go, the less members there are and so the less groups there are.
It’s important that we make sure every level’s groups cater to the syllabus, and the expectations of that level of dancing. That way we give you a fun experience, and the premium experience that we’re always aiming for. The less groups there are for a level, you can appreciate, the more important it is that they are ‘on point’.
Advanced Group Classes
Advanced steps make use of knowledge and techniques learned over the preceding couple of years’ dancing. This essential knowledge needs to be part of the dancer’s habits, and practiced over and over again.
When a teacher in an advanced group says, “Do this Quick Spin to Open Breaks” or “Corkscrew to Open Left Box” they depend on the whole group knowing this. If they have to stop and cover that move, it makes a chunk of that class an Intermediate class instead, and the lesson plan is disrupted 🙁 This makes it hard to Let the Teachers Teach.
Advanced groups build not only on a deep knowledge of steps, but also a benchmark of technical ability. Many advanced steps simply demand excellent technique. Here’s just one example of many;
Cha Cha can be very fast, and many dancers start with quite large steps either forward, backward, or in their chasse. The faster you have to move, or the more intricate the footwork becomes, the more your skills and knowledge are put to the test.
Dancers who have not fully mastered the ability to control their step sizes will often be out of time with the music, fall behind, be unable to ‘get it right’, and end up feeling incredibly frustrated about their dancing; they are still understanding how their step size affects their dancing, and so they should be focusing on nailing this technique not more fancy step patterns.
The Journey of A Dancer
There is more reading material in other blogs about the Journey of A Dancer. Have a read! I just want to highlight the broad timeline that we generally see:
Beginner 1 and 2. It takes a Smooth Groover a whole year of groups and privates to finish the entire beginner syllabus. A high percentage of our groups are at this level. Don’t rush, have fun!
Intermediate 1 and 2 are choc-full of awesome stuff, and the majority of the cool social steps are here. Also a lot of the ‘good dancer’ technique is at this leve. Spending at least 18 months doing Intermediate 1 and 2 is a great idea. The option for performance comes in here too, but performances distract from syllabus, so make sure you’re balancing your dancing and still achieving your goals! Dancers benefit from a spread of private lessons and groups.
Advanced group lessons, if you’re keen on it. More performances if that’s your goal. Revisit Beginner 1 and 2, to ensure you maintain a solid foundation, and Intermediate 1 and 2 so you don’t’ forget those cool steps you learned! Dancers often focus on their private lessons more, so they can get into the nitty-gritty, and use groups for practice.
How will Exams Work?
Michelle has written two different blogs on exam preparation, be sure to have a read for all the details from a couple of different angles.
Exams will be booked as an extra lesson, in addition to your normal lessons, with a senior teacher joining you to conduct the exam and provide feedback.
As this change comes in on the 11th of August members wanting to attend Advanced group classes when this Experience Series comes around will need to have passed their Intermediate 2 exam beforehand. This gives you three months to plan and prepare with your teacher! But don’t rush! Make a plan with your teacher, talk to Michelle or I, and prepare.
There is no requirement or expectation that any member does an exam.
Don’t feel pressured to do the exam process if you don’t feel comfortable taking it. There is still a huge amount of syllabus material, and technique, to cover at Intermediate 1 and 2 which will see you challenged for a couple of years if done right. It all depends on your personal dancing goals.
Our Ultimate Goal
Our driving motivation here is members Happiness. Our mission is Creating Happiness Through Dance, and that happiness was being impacted in three ways:
- That advanced members are unhappy when an advanced class becomes an intermediate class; it’s only fair that an advanced class represents advanced technique and syllabus levels steps
- That members who don’t have the essential knowledge needed to join advanced groups are unhappy because they can’t keep up, don’t know what’s going on, or have other members who are unhappy with them
- And that although our Teachers are wonderful and adaptable, it also makes them unhappy to see their carefully prepared lesson plans come undone because they have to cover Intermediate content before they can progress to Advanced content
Once we realised these three issues were having a negative impact, we knew we had to try something to improve the way we handle this area of the QuickSteps Studio.
We think that implementing Intermediate 2 exams as an essential requirement for Advanced group class attendance will increase in member happiness. So as always we’re open to feedback; if you have any thoughts or questions please get in touch with me at the studio, or through the normal feedback means (Email, Facebook, Phone, Feedback Form)