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The Silent Partner of the "Teaching Team"

by Jerry Stinson

Instead of referring to round-dance teachers as "individuals," Roundalab refers to teachers as a "Teaching Unit" or a "Teaching Team." In most cases, this is an appropriate description. "Cuers" can work independently, but when it's time to teach, a spouse or partner is often needed. Usually there is a "teacher" and a "silent partner." I want to dwell a bit on the "silent partner," since I am one of those.

I have learned from experience and observation what is expected from the silent partner. The first and most important rule is that I am NOT the instructor. My job is to assist Frances, the teacher, and to do what she asks me to do. She has her lesson plan in mind as she works through a step or dance, and when I interject my comments it interrupts her teaching flow. I try to comment only when asked to do so. That's sometimes difficult for me. There are some Teaching Units where both partners are teachers and both wear remote mikes on the floor. I have not seen this work well, since any disagreement or conflict is projected through the speakers. It's much more effective to whisper the comment or suggestion so that only the Teacher hears. She can then incorporate the information into her own instructional flow.

Another tid-bit that may help the silent partner -- SMILE. Frances is talking and thinking and I can help her by keeping the presentation light and pleasant. It would be a mistake to overdo it with a comic routine or continuous funny remarks since that detracts from what is being taught, but a cheerful presence makes everyone feel better.

Dancers generally watch footwork during a teach, so white shoes for teaching helps the dancer see the steps and makes the instructor more comfortable in the presentation. Proper frame and position are noticed by dancers who will eventually imitate what they see. The silent partner can think about how the couple LOOKS while his teaching partner is busy instructing. I still remember Audrey Palmquist in her perfect stance with Eddie while he was instructing from the floor!

Since I am sometimes dancing with another partner while France is cueing from up front, it is important that I immediately join her when she is ready to continue teaching inside the circle. She should not have to ask where I am. It is even better if I can stand aside and help her observe. I also position myself opposite her when she is teaching from inside the circle so that I can watch the dancers at her back.


Jerry & Frances Stinson are President of the Louisiana Round Dance Teachers' Association (LRDTA). This article was first published in the LRDTA newsletter, Footnotes In the Round, June/July 1994, and was reprinted in Round Dancer Magazine, July/August 1994 and in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, October 2012. 




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