Sometimes its good to challenge the status quo. Its not necessarily because there is something inherently wrong with it but in reviewing the ways things are done we can either affirm that what we do is the best way or can develop new approaches.
The ‘Ceroc’ model has been with the MJ scene for many years and has been shameslessly copied by nearly all of its rivals. We all see it, beginners class, freestyle, intermediate class, freestyle, teacher on a stage teaching to a proven formula, taxi dancers on hand to help beginners …… but is it the best way?
Author: Tribal (anonymous.) Tribal has taught at many classes and events for various modern jive providers around the UK. He also teaches regular weekly classes at a local dance college in the north (not following the ‘Ceroc’ model!) and has successfully competed at both regional and UK level.
Tell me what the average Ceroc night consists of?
Arrive by half past seven-ish, depending on work, traffic etc. Enter the venue, normally somewhere large with a good floor and a bar! Pay the venue manager your hard earned, typically about £7. Then go into the venue and meet up with old pals in this most familiar of environments. The class begins. Firstly though you require some form of regimentation. In this instance lines of men and women appear, almost like clockwork. Completely unprompted, ready for action.
Quick intro from the teacher followed by the Ceroc Essentials. A necessary warm up brought into being due to legal reasons of undertaking what could be strenuous exercise without a warm up! Into the main body of the class, 4 beginners moves in 45 minutes or less!
Some treat this like a challenge. Teachers I mean. And rush through it all as if their life depended on it. Missing out all the good juicy stuff, life connection, leverage, tension, compression, musicality, rapport…this list goes on.
But then again do you need to know all this, because Ceroc is more of a social dance isn’t it rather than a formalised dance style?
Taxi dancers are on hand to keep you on track. These are people who are particularly good at Ceroc who assist the teacher and take a review class later on. Like everything else though the ability of the much abused taxi dancer can be a matter for discussion. Unfortunately and in cases I have often found myself witnessing, the taxi dancer is normally just somebody ‘popular’ rather than somebody capable… But hey, like we’ve said already, Ceroc is a social dance isn’t it?
The class itself is well laid out in a clear understandable style, employing visual demonstrations followed by the theory and the practise. A lot to take in, in just 45 minutes don’t you think? Next comes the freestyle element of the evening, leading into the review class or the intermediate class depending on ability of the pupil.
All this goes towards making your night out at Ceroc as enjoyable as the company, the franchisee, the venue manager, the teacher, the taxi dancer and the dj can make it. You might have noticed the variables there. All these different people make up your night out dancing. And it is at this point that the model can sometimes fall down. A team is required to process the often large number of ‘punters’ through the door, and they all play an integral part to your evening.
As a provider of this information, I have many thoughts on the rights and wrongs of dance and its teachings. These are all personal opinion and have arisen from my own teaching experiences. One of my biggest stumbling blocks was that Ceroc was more and still is more of a social dance than a formal dance. Yes it’s a hobby for many and a way to meet new friends but when it costs £7 per person per lesson and the possible outcome of slapdash teaching is an injury to a patron…should it be classed as being ‘just something to do for an evening’?
Because of the this foggy area surrounding the formal/social dancer it is nigh on impossible to ensure that weekly classes and specialist weekend workshops are attended by those capable of completing them. Whether you like it or not, if you are the person who doesn’t ‘get-it’ you are the reason the class is going so slowly! Pretty harsh I know, but true. If we did have a more formal class environment, dare I say, some form of grading system or categorisation, then the classes could run more smoothly, they could be more challenging and you the punter could get more out of them. This is of course, speculation. Personal opinion laid down in words for you to think over.
As it stands at the moment, your average Ceroc class should be well taught, it should be clear and understandable, and it should last for 45 minutes at beginner level and 30 minutes at intermediate level. The taxi dancers should do everything the teacher can, with explanations to boot!
In the perfect world the Ceroc model works and it works well. It works well at getting new people through the door. It works well at turning you the punter from beginner into intermediate, whether you are one of the social mob or something a little more serious. If you want to do anything more however, you’ll probably find yourself going elsewhere…like salsa or ballroom. Why these ones? Well, because they have some formal recognition, they have set foot patterns, they have grading systems and they’re often recognised by a formal UK or world organisation. Ceroc doesn’t and isn’t. They provide the pupil with a confirmed understanding that what they are doing they are doing correctly and no further progress can be made until a certain standard has been achieved.
The Ceroc teaching model is a good one. It works well but it will only take the more serious dancer so far. After that dear reader you are on your own. As for the social dancers amongst the reading public, please continue to enjoy your Ceroc class…it will give you everything you want and nothing that you don’t!
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