I was reminded of something so true today when the instructor for my Hair Styling course was asked by a student if we what she did was right as she was trying to exactly copy his demo. His reply was: “People are NOT machines!”
I couldn’t agree more.
Many times I have fallen into the trap of thinking that my body is a machine while learning. Thinking or being instructed to do something the “right way.” Thinking that to do something well or correctly, that I need to replicate it exactly, and then I will get it “right.” Thinking that I should be able to do something just like someone else is doing it.
Many times I see this same thinking from my students. Asking or wanting to know the EXACT “right” way to do things. The tendency to break something down so much that the whole becomes lost.
Everything is in pieces. Everything is mechanical. The feeling is lost.
In the Hair Styling class, the instructor wanted us to do a styling that was inspired from his demo. It did have to be related to the styling he did, but he definitely did not want us to copy his.
Taking something a teacher does and accepting it as the only solution, the only end, limits us and prevents us from finding our own creative end.
Replicating something exactly is the goal of a machine. It is a thing that can’t create, can’t think for itself – it is a tool.
When I started trying to learn follower stylings, I would watch videos from events like ULHS and pick out different variations, watch them in slow-mo, break them down until I had “learned” it and then would dance that variation on the dance floor. The only problem was I didn’t understand that the reason the follow in the videos had done the variations, was because of a reaction, a feeling from the music and their partner. I was mechanizing the variation and just repeating it in a meaningless way.
This has been a hard habit to break and sometimes I still find myself doing a variation without feeling behind it, but slowly and surely I am removing the machine approach from my dancing.
My instructor also said that he never wishes to see anyone exactly replicate any hairstyle, you must feel where the hair wants to go, and then go with it.
I want to stop saying “you did it right” in classes, and instead concentrate on whether the students got the feeling – because that is what is most important.