Teaching

Here at Blues Union, we strive to help people become better blues dancers. For some, that path leads to teaching, so we’ve created a training program!

On this page we’ve included our values and criteria, as well as an explanation of the training process. Enjoy!

Guiding Light:

This is what we love and what’s important to us; it’s what we’d like to see from current & future teachers at Blues Union, in their dancing and in their teaching:

  • A basic understanding of and respect for blues dance history and culture. Part of this respect includes understanding the blues aesthetic.
  • Dancing that is characterized by the blues aesthetic. This includes a grounded, relaxed posture, a pulse that reflects the baseline rhythm of the music, and a lag that echoes the “pocket” found in most blues music. For more details, see What is Blues Dancing.
  • Respect for your partner & their creative ideas. Dancing where both partners give creative contributions, and those ideas are listened to and built upon between partners.
  • A deep connection to the music. The music drives the choices you make as a dancer.
  • An emphasis on (and ability to teach) both solo & partnered dancing.
  • For teachers, continuing to work on your own dancing and a continual deepening of knowledge & understanding, through class planning, teaching, & otherwise. For teachers (and to instill in students), an excitement about learning and exploration!
 

Teacher Training process:

White Belt

Teacher in training.

Skills: Solid understanding & execution of the basics of blues dance.

Process for moving to the next level:

  1. Express interest!
    • Tell Jenn and/or Julie that you’d like to teach at Blues Union. We’ll talk to you about our Guiding Light, and answer any questions you have about it.
  2. Self-assess:
    • Read this document (good job, you’re already doing it!) and our Learning to Teach “Checklist”. Think about which skills you are already comfortable with, and which ones you’d like to work on first, as you learn to teach.
  3. Teaching trial period.
    • Teaching experience: Teach with any of our certified trainers (black belts) for 3 months (doesn’t have to be consecutive). Certified trainers are Julie Brown, Jenn Martinez, Amanda Mayer, Chris Mayer, Mike Legenthal, Dan Legenthal, Ruth Evelyn, Mike Grosser, Joshua Boroff, Devona Cartier, and Forrest Rogers-Marcovitz.
    • Feedback & self-reflection:
      • After each class, de-brief with your partner/trainer about what went well (what exercises, word choices, demonstrations, etc seemed effective) and what you would like to try to improve on in the next class. Talk about what you think, and also get input from your trainer.
      • At the end of the month, work with your trainer on what you learned over the month, what you worked on improving, what the results were, and what you think your next steps are towards becoming comfortable teaching, referring back to the Guiding Light.
      • At the end of your 3 months, check in with Julie and/or Jenn on your progress, both for your self-assessment and assessment from the outside.
    • (Optional) Teacher Hangouts! There are periodic “hangouts” where people teaching or interested in teaching blues meet to discuss & work on various blues teaching topics. If you’re interested, talk to Julie Brown!
Rainbow Belt Can teach beginner classes with black, brown, or other rainbow belts. Can assist intermediate+ classes at the request of a black belt instructor. Get cash money for teaching.

Skills: Demonstrates solid blues dancing. Comfortable teaching blues basic material, planning classes from the flexible curriculum, managing basic pacing/focus/logistics during class, and working with a teaching partner.

Process for building your skills here:

  1. Observe others teach:
    • Watch other people’s blues classes and take notes on things that were effective (things they said, exercises, ways of demonstrating, etc.). Also think of ways you could teach something to make it more effective–not as a criticism of that teacher, but as a teaching tool for you.
    • You’re welcome (and encouraged!) to do this at any time, at any level of teaching. Both Blues Union and Bluesy Tuesy allow non-participating observers to watch a class for free, as long as they are not disruptive.
  2. Continue the feedback & self-reflection process done during your inital training. These are useful reflections no matter where you are in your teaching or dancing journey.
  3. Continue to reference the Learn to Teach “Checklist,” for ideas on which teaching skills to work on next.
  4. (Optional but encouraged) Have someone observe your class & give you feedback. Again, both Blues Union and Bluesy Tuesy allow non-participating observers to watch a class for free, as long as they are not disruptive.

Process for moving to the next level:

  1. All of the above, plus…
  2. Observe intermediate+ classes, or while taking an intermediate+ class, keep a teacher’s eye on the the level of material presented, and how the instructor handles the spread of levels within the class.
  3. Assist a black belt instructor for an intermediate+ class.
Brown Belt Can teach intermediate+ classes. Can teach beginner classes with black, brown, or rainbow belts.

Skills: Able to effectively teach intermediate-to-advanced blues material, able to effectively teach a multi-level class to students who range from freshly-intermediate to advanced.

Process for moving to the next level:
  1. We’re currently developing a concrete process for becoming a black belt. Stay tuned! If you’re a brown belt and would like to be a black belt, please let us know, and for now we can help you know what to focus on to get there.
  2. At this point, you are obviously working on your teaching & your dancing, so continue the good work you’re doing–working on your craft of teaching, your understanding of your own dancing, and your understanding of blues dancing in general. Continue observing others and getting feedback on your teaching and dancing.
  3. As you observe classes, take classes or private lessons on the craft of teaching, ask others for feedback on your classes, etc…start to think about what makes a good blues dance teacher in general & how you would train someone.
Black Belt Master teacher, can teach teachers. Can teach beginner or intermediate+ with anyone, can train other teachers.

Skills: Embodies our Guiding Light (see above), deep knowledge of blues dancing and teaching, able to teach a successful class with a teacher in training, able to guide debriefs with white belts–including positive feedback, constructive feedback, and guiding someone to self-assess.

Experienced teacher intake process:

If you are moving to Boston and already have experience teaching blues, we have a separate process for evaluating your existing blues dance teaching skills. The intake process involves a trial period where we observe your teaching. It may involve additional training & evaluation, depending on your existing skills. Contact Julie Brown or Jenn Martinez for details.