On February 2, 2016 I attended my first dance lesson since my tiny tots ballet classes at the age of three. Let’s just say, ballet didn’t stick. Hip hop on the other hand was a whole new world. It was nothing like ballet. There is a much greater focus on attitude and much smaller focus on technique and perfect posture.
When I arrived at my lesson on Tuesday night I had no idea what to expect. I approached the door alongside Anne excited about the new opportunities. The moment I walked through the door the dance instructor, Bev Soh, took one look at me and said “I’ve taught you!” After some discussion of where we could have met we realized she had been a substitute teacher for Mr.Beveridge when I was in the MACC class at Kwayhquitlum Middle School. On top of that she also taught the dance unit to my PE 7 class. While you might not think it, this gave me a great sense of welcoming and comfort in the environment that only grew as the night went on. Bev maintained a very open and supportive environment in her class. She taught the moves while keeping everyone comfortable and included throughout the whole night. Even though Bev is not my “mentor” I do feel I have learnt a great deal from her as a leader. Some of her main strategies included, taking initiative, engaging with each of her students (getting to know each one on a more personal level, and using humour to keep a positive mood.
In terms of new dance moves, I have learnt a total of 5 new moves. These include:
- Body roll
- Shoulder shrugs
- Hip thrusts
- Hip ball change
- Slide and step
The following day I was able to meet up with my official mentor Mika Backus who also takes hip hop lessons from Bev at Room to Move Dance and Fitness Studio. Below is one of her group routines from the ‘Music video Hip-Hop’ class at Room to Move Dance Studio. Mika is second from the left and Bev is third from the left.
Before that, she took lessons from an array of different studios that specified in different dance styles. These studios include, Caulfield School of Dance, Coastal Edge Dance Centre, Prism Dance Centre, and Tri-City School of Dance, specializing in tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop, can-can, salsa, chacha, and more. She has been dancing for over 20 years on top of her full time job as a paralegal assistant, wife, and a mother of two. Since she was little she always had a passion for dance, but her mom forced her into piano instead so she did not get the opportunity pursue dance as a serious hobby till much later in her life. During our lesson she said, “When I joined dance, I loved it instantly. It felt so natural.”
In a matter of one week, I feel like I have gained a great deal of new skills from Mika as a dancer. One note that we both noticed from my lesson on Tuesday was that I was very stiff, but I feel that in just one hour Mika was able to help me improve drastically. She helped me become more comfortable in my skin and let loose to improve my attitude for our first routine choreographed by Bev Soh to the song Confident by Demi Lovato (the final dance will be posted at the end of our 5 week course). I am very excited to demonstrate my new skills at our next lesson.
On top of that, Mika demonstrated a lot of qualities of a good leader/mentor. I noticed that she planned her lessons around what I wanted to learn and my personal goals for the project. She created a very free environment where I could pitch ideas and ask questions as an equal rather than someone of a lower standing. I very much appreciate when adults talk to/treat me as an equal and create an environment where I feel comfortable to have a real conversation as appose to the awkward back and forth that can happen between adults and kids/teenagers. Mika also helped me evaluate my own progress by filming me at the end of our lesson so we could watch and reflect on what looked good vs. what I needed to improve on.
For future endeavours as a leader I hope to take away many of the skills both Mika and Bev used in their teaching styles; including, taking initiative, using humour and warmth to create a welcome environment, engaging with my mentee (taking into account their opinions), and treating the mentee as an equal. I also hope to take videos after all my sessions to log my improvement in the course and note what needs to be improved for the following weeks to come. Overall, I am very glad I chose this project and very fortunate to have such wonderful mentors guiding me through this process.