My name is Lacy de la Garza and I am the recipient of the 2011 Gene, Louise, and Fred Kelly Tap Teacher Scholarship provided by the Dance Council of North Texas, offering me an opportunity to attend the Third Coast Rhythm Project in San Antonio Texas from July 21-24, 2011.
I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of faculty provided for us at the convention; in the years past in which I have attended TCRP, the caliber of teaching has consistently been high, and this year was no exception. Each and every class I attended was full of passion and technique, two things I admire most about the tap dance form.
Attending this convention provided an opportunity to build upon the teaching techniques I have developed over the past few years. The master classes exposed me to new ideas for use with my students, through each teacher’s unique warm-ups, drills, and their choreography. The classes with Max Pollack challenged my idea of what rhythm was, and introduced the concept that it can be broken down into different time signatures and tempos according to its cultural origin. Lisa LaTouche, Derek Grant, and Acia Gray offered great drills not only for my own use, but for implementation with my students. I was affirmed to see many of the same exercises I teach and many of the same ideas that I use presented in each of the master classes, confirming my place among classically trained tap teachers who have a passion for technique as well as the art form itself.
The scholarship gave me the chance to take the teacher’s course from Tasha Lawson, which covered teaching techniques for multiple ages and in multiple scenarios. I most appreciated the techniques she covered for teaching the musical tempos, as well as keeping children of varying ages and levels engaged enough to stay interested in tap. The other teachers in the class provided insight from their own experiences, which I found helpful in comparing the theories to real-life practice. Tasha gave us useful music recommendations, as well as engaging games and drills for the children, and the handouts covering multiple methods of teaching movements were very helpful.
The 2011-2012 school year has already begun, giving me the opportunity to implement many of the ideas I learned from the convention with my own students. For example, as per Tasha’s recommendation, we are all studying the great tap dancers together, focusing on a new one each week and learning a little bit about their personal history and what they contributed to the tap dance community. The techniques for teaching rhythm and tempos provided by both Tasha and Max are an indispensible addition to the tap curriculum I use now with my students. Opportunities for implementing many more ideas keep arising, and because of the training I received and notes that I was able to take at the convention, my students will continue benefitting from my attendance at this convention for the rest of the school year.
I and my students thank the Dance Council of North Texas and Barbara Ryan Phillips for allowing me this opportunity, and most of all for continuing to provide opportunities for tap teachers to grow as both teachers and dancers themselves while learning how best to pass their love of tap onto others.
~ Lacy C. de la Garza