I've traveled and roomed with friends to dance weekends in the past. It has always been a memorable occasion. I'm thrilled to have created memories with Kay, Lori and Nancy at Stockton. Among the four of us, we cover a wide spectrum of introvert/extrovert, varying learning styles, and years of folk dance experience. It filled me with delight to watch their interest, delight, playfulness, aptitude, and most of all, I was impressed by their participation. Attending Stockton is a challenge both physically and mentally. I was gratified that we all took care of ourselves - napping when necessary, etc. Hats off to Nancy, who on day 1 decided she wanted to extend her participation and stay for week 2 of camp.
For me, in addition to traveling with friends I had two other epic first-time experiences at Stockton.
Last year at Stockton, we had a teacher from Macedonia who taught a dance that I wanted to teach immediately. But the preliminary notes we were given at Stockton did not accurately reflect the steps we were taught in his class. I sent what I thought were accurate notes to one of the Stockton organizers (my beloved mentor, Loui), and she invited me to join the "research committee".
As an apprentice research committee member, I had a BLAST! The committee works as a team. We pair up to observe the teacher and make corrections to the preliminary notes. (Had I waited for the committee's work last year, I would have missed out on the chance to be on the team!)
I worked with Tom on the research for Gigi's Argentine Tango for couples. Honestly, I would have fervently NOT chosen Gigi's class, had I not been assigned. And then I would have missed the enchanting dance that is the Argentine Tango. And the equally delightful teaching of Gigi and Warren. A couple of near misses there - being on the committee, and tango class. Note to self: keep eyes and heart open to unexpected experiences.
I teamed up with Cricket and Marina for Maurits van Geel's classes. On the research team, they ask our preferences when making assignments. Maurits and his wife Tineke each taught classes. They were my first choice. It was an honor to work on Maurits' notes. My assignment required that I watch Maurits dance. What a job! He's an incredible dancer.
I had fun working with these two researchers. I had fun contributing my observations, drawing on my experience as a dancer and as a musician. I didn't realize how much I rely on the skills I've developed as a musician. I can see how this observation can help inform my dance teaching.
Speaking of dance teaching, I had the opportunity to lead a Dances for All Ages session at Stockton. When I was first approached to lead the session, I pitched doing Welsh dances. I was trying to think of something that would bring new material to community dance teachers like me. What dance instructor couldn't benefit from having a few beginning level Welsh dances in their back pocket?
I chose to teach these dances:
Joc Y Do - a set dance for 4 or 5 couples
Cylch Y Cymry - a circle mixer
Clawdd Offa - a square dance
Rhwng Ddwy - groups of 3 people
Robin Ddiog - both as a circle dance for as many as will AND as a couple dance in a Sicilian circle
I asked an experienced teacher to observe and give me feedback. Suzanne gave me insightful notes. One camper from Seattle told me I did a good job. She didn't usually attend Dances for All Ages and she didn't have much expectation. :-( Another camper from NJ said she would love to be in my class - she complimented my clear teaching. Woo hoo! It was thrilling to teach at Stockton.
Stockton was a big success this year. Only 11 months and 7 days until next time we go to camp!