Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's dance camp, not the CIA

I like Fruity Pebbles.
I like Pop's Pizza.
Pop's pizza with Fruity Pebbles topping?
Probably not.

Next week, I'm going to experience two other things I like at the same time:
Swing Dancing & Summer Camp (dance event in summer camp setting).
I hope it tastes as good as it sounds.

Registration for the camp felt a bit like applying to college. I had to indicate the class level most appropriate for my skill. I was also asked to list every instructor, private lesson, class, workshop, exchange, camp, event I ever attended. Plus one reference.

The placement process feels like ripe territory for further exploration through the lens of Behavioral Economics. When my paper on this topic is published in a high profile journal and I'm at cocktail hour at a conference this will be the backstory (I dont even know if they have cocktail hours at conferences - if they don't they should).

I appreciate the intention of the questions & inquiries. The event organizers are trying to manage class size, lead/follow balance and make sure the dancer is in the track that will benefit their dancing (instead of their ego) most. I've been in classes with folks who have over or under estimated their ability. I've been that person. It's not good for anyone.

I do wonder the extent to which self assessment, the sum of your dance activities and the opinion of an instructor is indicative of your skill. I grant they are likely good indicators (I'll stay away from any discussion of statistics/modeling since this blog is supposed to be about adventure and drama). For my upcoming event the dance organizers took it upon themselves to contact many of the instructors listed on my registration form and I very much wonder the value in doing that (to say nothing of the intrusiveness of it). I think it's worth listing I took a class with "so and so" at "xyz" but would not expect "so and so" to necessarily recall me, let alone my dance skill. Even if they could speak to that my dance skills are not static (though sometimes my dancing is).

I'm no dance class admissions counselor but onsite auditions and observations seem like the best way to make an assessment. And many dance events require on-site auditions for the advanced levels. That approach does propose a bit of a planning challenge in not knowing exact class size and follow/lead ratio but enough events do it I have to imagine they've figured out how to manage it.

For example, the camp I'm attending required a video submission prior to the event for dancers who wanted to be in the advanced track. They put a cap on size and track is closed.

I put myself in the lower part of the intermediate track (after the fact someone who attended the event and has a vague sense of my dancing suggest I track up within intermediate). On my registration form I indicated I had no problem being moved up or down if deemed appropriate by the instructors. I noted that class size and ratios might not allow for that but was advised by the organizers that was not a concern for the intermediate level.

So, why then, all the fuss?
I'm half expecting they'll be talking to gym & music teachers from my elementary school.
This is a dance camp. Not the CIA.

And my dance camp classmates better be my mirror image.

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