Skippy Blair's DANCE BLOG

This is the BLOG for my website: If you have questions or coments, email me at: skippy at skippyblair dot com

Monday, April 18, 2005


Recently there has been a series of emails and telephone calls asking how our Teacher's Certification differs from others being presented across the country.

I am not aware of other people's programs - only our own. Our certification program is comparable to a six semester college program. Through the years, there have been over 1,200 teachers who have gone through the program and passed both exams. It is certainly not a program for everyone. Many teachers, or perspective teachers, just want the piece of paper that says they are "Certified."

We all know, that there are thousands of doctors out there and we are all aware that it takes time to find those special few who know more about their craft than the others. These are the doctors who make us well. It is not much different with teachers. There are many benefits from any class and any teacher. However, the question regarding dance education is this: Does everyone learn, or just the talented? Real education brings up the level of everyone, including the lowest man on the totem pole. Just "showing" someone something, ("Watch me, and do it this way"), is one form of teaching that works for talented people. There is another form: Dazzle the masses with information that sounds fantastic, but nobody understands.
Participants leave the session convinced it was a fantastic presentation, and the reason they didn't get it was because they don't know enough. The GSDTA theory is this: "If the student can't do it, it hasn't been taught. It may have been shown, explained, dissected in detail, but if the student can't do it, we have missed an important detail."

Starting way back in 1960, GSDTA Teachers have been noted for winning contests, and producing dance teachers that can cover the spectrum of all forms of social dance. Several have gone on to perform in Las Vegas, television and movies. Many of them specialize in West Coast Swing, but teaching in Universities, Public Schools, and Parks and Recreation, allows them to expand their teaching capabilities and become full-time teachers, if that is their goal. At one point in the 1980's, we had 38 teachers teaching out of the main studio in Downey. Almost every park and recreation and local college that had a dance program, hired a GSDTA teacher. Some of those original teachers are still teaching today.

People frequently ask how they can get involved in our training program. The best way to start is to attend a week-long Intensive. These 40 hour programs saturate the mind with the Elements of Movement and Elements of Music that have been isolated to target optimum level dance development. Not everyone can be a Jordan or Tatiana - but our program develops dancers to their own highest capabilities.

Over a 20 year period, one of my greatest innovations has been the use of "Critiques." We have file folders full of testimonials saying that their dancing improved the very day of the critique. (Not 6 months later - not down the road - but the improvement was noted by the entire Intensive instantly)!

It takes a lot of testimonials, and a lot of faith in our education, for people to take a week off from their busy lives to attend an Intensive. GSDTA has an amazing record of producing top quality teachers. Looking over the photos of the people who have attended these Intensives is like viewing a "Who's Who in Dance." We are now in the process of taking all of those old pictures and putting them on our website. That process will probably not be completed until after the Summer Intensive in July 2005, mainly because there is not time between now and then to even locate all of the pictures. I have a break in August, and we have scheduled time to supply the history of West Coast Swing, and the history of GSDTA Training, so that
all of those questions can be answered.

If you are interested in any aspect of our program, please go online at - email or call Linda at (562) 869-8949 (GSDTA Headquarters in Downey, CA).