Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Nasty Habits

The homework I gave last week was to make a list of goals - goals for the coming month and goals for the year. If you have already started work on this, please feel free to click on the "homework" tab on the right to see what other students compiled last year.

Some postulating has been done on the notion of habits on the interwebs lately. You'll see the word habits mentioned a few times in the responses to my No Account Count postings. Click on the "8-Count" tab to read those. The theory goes that if one teaches the Lindy Hop using by numbers, then students will tend to learn the dance in discrete chunks, forming 6 and 8 count habits. Perhaps I am misinterpreting the comments. Please feel free to correct me if I have mis-characterized the argument.

With that argument in mind, I have to ask whether teaching beginning leads "left-right-triple-step, right-left-triple-step" and follows "right-left-triple-step, left-right-triple-step" as a basic is also objectionable. Certainly in the long run, no dancer needs to use those specific footwork patterns. However, if a teacher doesn't teach discrete patterns, then what should they teach?

Certainly it could be said that the old-timers varied their steps, however by the time Frankie Manning was teaching there was certainly a specific definition to the timing being used. I can't speak for what the Swedes learned from Al Minns. However, I have to question whether the teaching itself didn't create habits regardless of whether the teachers were counting or not.

Learning requires repetition; in repetition habits are formed. That's my theory and I'm sticking with it.

I studied a small bit of Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais Method when I was in college. Both have to do with the un-learning or re-learning of habits. Specifically those habits relate to alignment and breathing and over the years while the exercises grow more distant, I remember using them to reconsider the habits in my thinking as well. Yes, it takes work to grow beyond a habit but it's certainly possible and even more enlightening.

I'm actually excited for the Yoga/Feldenkrais Fusion workshop at Mission Street Yoga coming next month. Come join me in South Pasadena!

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