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Friday Morning Variables; A Really Good Contact Form Tutorial

First, the ballet:

Today, I finally got back to class. I was again assisting in Friday class, and we had one brand-new student. He let us know that he was uncomfortable with any kind of hands-on correction, so I spent much of the class contemplating best practices for verbally imparting elements of basic placement and so forth that are easiest to demonstrate by physically placing someone’s arms or what have you.

I’ll be thinking about this for quite a while, I suspect.

In other news, I’m building a PHP-driven contact form for Denis’ website, and being as my PHP skillz are more than tad rusty, I decided to play it safe and hunt up a tutorial (especially since I’ve never hand-coded PHP into a WordPress-driven site before).

I found a great one — it’s going gangbusters, thus far, so unless I hose something up (in which case I’ll just say, “Screw this,” and copy the code from the thoughtfully-provided repository ;)), I think it’ll work.

The best part is that it’s well-written: clear, concise, and direct.

Here’s a link, if you’re into this kind of stuff:

I initially started doing this the e my WP install is wonky and I can’t actually install plugins, but since I prefer actually doing many things by hand, this appeals to my  crankety old-fashioned tastes.

I cut my teeth on old-skool HTML as a kid before WYSIWIG editors were really a thing (and definitely before good ones that didn’t produce code that looked like something a cat might disgorge after a hard night on the town), and developed my initial abilities the same way everyone did back then, through the magic of View Source. This fostered in me a deep appreciation for clean, well-commented code, and the tutorial above is a fantastic example of what that should look like.

For maximum laziness irony, of course, I am writing this entry in the WP’s “Visual” editor.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Oh, or, well — I have a research idea percolating for my ballet peeps, but I’ll get to that in another post. This is mostly a reminder to myself, so there we go. STICKY NOTE!!!!

À bientôt, mes amis!


Danseur Ignoble (Again!): A Teaching Tip I’m Totally Going To Steal

Tonight, I went and rocked out Ballet Essentials (even though The Divine Ms. M playfully scolded me: “What are you doing in this class? You should be in the other class!” I explained I was saving my toe against Wednesday’s Intermediate class).

We had a raft of new dancers and a lovely, simple barre. At center, we worked the basic port-de-bras and positions of the feet, then did chassees (a droit, a gauche, et avant), then did a little combination in two versions: a simple “chassee avant right, chassee avant left” for the really new folks or a swift-traveling polka for those who had been dancing for a while.

You guys, I love polka (if you’re wondering, here’s a basic example: chassee avant right, hop [kind of a saute passe, really], chassee avant left).

Here’s the thing, though, that I’m going to steal: after everyone had traveled across the floor, Ms. M asked even the newest students to try the polka step — and then she said, “Imagine that you’re Clara in the party scene of the Nutcracker — or, for the gentlemen, that you’re Fritz. Get into character!”

At the same time, she demonstrated the characteristic steps for each part.

Suddenly, everyone had permission to play, to perform — and we did.

When you’re teaching adult beginners, especially, there’s a kind of play barrier that you have to knock down. Adults feel as if they must master technique, and they focus on it so hard that they forget to play and have fun and pretend to be Clara or Fritz.

You guys, I have to tell you — everyone in that room looked a hundred times better immediately once they jumped on that bandwagon. Even me.

I got my Fritz on. I thought about the character, about embodying that spirit of Sassy, Irritating Little Brother-ness (because, frankly, that’s a role I know pretty well; I’ve only been working on it all my life) and about how sometimes when you’re a little sibling, you do this thing where you both mock your big sib and show off at the same time. And then I danced that, and it looked cool.

You guys, it was fun, and I think we all enjoyed it.

So I’m going to remember that, and I am going to steal the heck out of it. Talk about “one easy trick!” It’s a nifty workaround to get adults to lighten up and enjoy themselves.

Which, of course, leads to better-looking ballet, for all the reasons I mentioned earlier today.

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