Letter: Dancemaster, Singular or Plural?

[ This article appeared in volume 2 of the Letter of Dance. ]

from Lord Richard the Poor of Ely

My Fellow Dancers,

There is an attitude towards dance instructing that is becoming apparent (at least in the area of the East Kingdom that I frequent). That is, that dance instruction in a group is the domain of a single individual, and no one else can be responsible for leading dances (The Order of terpsichore is the "Official License to Teach Dancing" in the East, of course). Evidence for this is in the spreading use of the term "our Dance Master". In no other art is this apparent. There are no Official Garb Makers, for example. And the burden of running the kitchen at a feast does not always fall on the same person.

I can see three reasons why this is bad. The first is purely selfish. I am tired of always having to lead the dancing at local events. Having another dance teacher around would give me a chance to actually dance and enjoy it.

Secondly, there are simply too many dances out there for one person to know. I don't hide the fact that I know nothing of Italian dances. I'd like to learn and do them, but I don't have the time for the necessary study so I can actually dance them and instruct others as well.

Finally, if the study of dance is seen as the field of a select few, it could discourage others from getting involved. This is counterproductive. Dance will not grow very well if we keep giving the impression that dancing is my territory and nobody else's. After dancing for seven years, I never had the opportunity to seriously lead dancing until I moved to a group where there was no one willing to do it.

It isn't fair to complain about something without offering a possible solution. I suggest that we dance instructors loosen up a bit and ask others if they'd like to help out with a workshop or at an event. If you see instructors from another group, give them the chance to take over for a dance or two. I know we'd all rather dance than teach, and personally I go hoarse after four or five dances anyway. Spreading it around like this means that each person has less work to do at any one time, more people can show off what they know best, and people may get the idea that anyone can teach dancing, which is true.

Webbed by Gregory Blount of Isenfir (Greg Lindahl) (lindahl@pbm.com)