Susie's Notebook


© by Susie & Gert-Jan Rotscheid

When do you become a leader
When you decide to teach or cue, when you "pick up the microphone" you have become a leader. This is whether you want to be a leader or not. It is no longer your choice. You made the choice. So now the question you have to ask yourself is, "Do I want to become a good leader?" Since you are here, and want to learn, we assume the answer to that question is, "yes".

What is a leader
A leader is someone who can get people to want to change. Change comes in many forms. Since we are teaching dancing, what we are changing is the way someone moves. We try to help them move in a way that is to the music, forming dance patterns. We are also involving them in a new and different activity. They will make new friends. But outside of the basic teaching part of being a Round Dance leader, what else do we have to think about?

What you should think about as a leader

  • Show by example
    • This is not only about showing a figure or a dance, but how we act and treat others, especially other people within our own field of Round Dancing. This goes even further than Round Dancing and includes the whole family of Square Dancing.
    • Never cut down another leader to a dancer.
    • Go with your dancers to other Round Dance events. Encourage them to go even if you can't go.
    • Keep your dancing as exact as possible. Dancers will always be watching you and will copy, or at least try to copy, what you do.
  • Know the program; what you teach
    • You should dance at least 1 phase level higher, in the rhythm you are teaching, then what you teach.
    • Know all the figures, both man's and lady's part. Know as much about the figures as you can. But remember, you don't need to teach everything you know. A good leader knows what the dancers are ready to receive.
  • Improve yourself
    • Learn from your mistakes (Learn from the mistakes of others too.)
    • Evaluate yourself after each workshop, lesson, cueing session.
    • Listen to what others have to say about you and try to improve.
    • Attend classes and seminars whenever you can.
    • Get together with other cuers for seminars. Each person can research something to present to others.
    • Watch others teach and see what you like and don't like.
  • Be confident about what you do know
    • Present yourself in a confident manner. Not arrogant, just positive.
    • If you have a question about a figure or a dance, find the answer before you teach it. Call or write the choreographer or someone else that you feel might be able to help you.
    • If someone asks you a question that you don't know the answer to, just say, "I'm sorry, I don't know the answer to that. But I will find out for you." Then do find out the answer.
    • If you do make a mistake, correct it as soon as possible. It is not wrong to make mistakes (just don't make too many ?). It is wrong not to correct them.
  • Make the dancers want to learn
    • Make learning fun. Dancers will mirror your enthusiasm. You need to be able to "leave your troubles at home" when you walk in the door to teach or cue.
    • Smile when you walk in the door; it gets you in the mood. We don't mean that you have to do nothing but smile, but use a smile to help get yourself and your dancers ready to learn.
    • Use humor when you teach. Laughing releases tension, both yours and the dancers.
    • Compliment and encourage the dancers. They will learn better. Let them know when they have done something well. Praise works better than criticism.
  • Support the Round Dance Community
    • Become a member of your local organization.
    • Help in your local organization, if you can. Share your ideas.
    • Work with others to promote Round Dancing as much as possible.
  • There is more to life than Round Dancing
    • Plan some time for yourself, and your partner, not in the round dance activity.
    • Don't forget your family.
    • If you let Round Dancing be your only activity, you can reach "burn out". Then you won't be any good to the Round Dance activity at all.