“Intensive” Education, from the Dance World

An hour talk is normal. How about 12 hours? It could be the best thing if your audience will learn things better than you thought possible. Experiment with session times to help attendees better receive information thrown at them at your event.

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Swing DancingWe live in a culture that places tremendous emphasis on classroom education. And, for the most part, a “class” lasts for somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour, at which point the bell rings and you trundle off to another class.

The system has its advantages, but it also has disadvantages as there are some things that just don’t fit into a 60-minute time slot. You just can’t get very deep in that amount of time.

So for your next conference or weekend event, here’s a little different take, stolen completely from the swing dance world.

Once or twice each month, the swing dancers of America take over some unsuspecting hotel and take lessons and workshops all day. After dinner, everyone competes, then the pros put on exhibitions, and then everyone social dances from midnight to dawn. (Yes, they are crazy.)

But there is one very different kind of weekend dance event, run by a guy named Mario Robau. Mario is one of the top swing dance instructors in the world. Once a year he comes to New England to give what is known as “The Mario Intensive.”

This takes an entire weekend. It’s 12 hours of him teaching dance, with social dancing at night.

Now to be honest, I am generally not very big on doing dance weekends. Two hours of dancing is about my limit. But I got talked into going to this Mario Intensive event. I was little nervous, because I was afraid of being on my feet for 12 hours of dance instruction.

Well, silly me. Much to my surprise, it was a 12-hour classroom lecture on dance. We did some dancing every once in awhile, but for the most part he just stood there and talked, and we sat there and took notes. Because it was 12 hours, not just the typical one hour class, he was able to really delve into the fundamental elements and put them all together in a way that would have been far too complicated to do in a single hour session.

Many people take “The Mario Intensive” year after year, as it is so “intense” that one gets something new out of it each time.

There is another fabulous nationally known swing dance instructor named Mary Hoedeman. She once came to Boston for a weekend of lessons and workshops, and I booked four hours of private lessons with her in that weekend. Because we had so much time, we were able to deal with lots of basic technical things, drilling and drilling for the four hours.

I only learned one single thing in that four hours, but it was the core basic element of all partner dancing, and it changed my life forever. It never would have happened in a single hour workshop or lesson. It took that long to get the concept thru my thick skull.

I have taken dozens of individual classes and lessons, and I have watched dozens of DVDs. but those two in-depth events had more effect on my ability to swing dance than all of the others combined.

I am not suggesting that just anybody walking down the street can give a worthwhile 12-hour intensive, or a worthwhile, four-hour, one-on-one session. But there are some people who can. For some super presenters, limiting them to a single hour prevents some fabulous in-depth sharing of knowledge. Just an idea if you’re looking to do something different.

Photo by Bob Doran
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Justin Locke is an entertaining speaker. He recently appeared as an "[email protected]" Justin is also an author and playwright; his musical plays are performed all over the world. Before becoming a full time speaker, Justin spent 18 seasons playing the bass with the Boston Pops. In his presentations, he shares truly laugh-out-loud tales of concert disasters, as well as unique insight into the leadership and team dynamics of major orchestras. Justin is the author of Principles of Applied Stupidity

1 COMMENT

  1. You know? I once went to an event in which someone just tried to teach a few “brave” attendants how to dance afro-Peruvian music. It was so hilarious, refreshing, and of course, new, that most people couldn’t help loving it. =)

    Well, they didn’t stay there 12 hours, but still, this is a great idea. I support it.

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