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Planet Teacher and the "Top Table"

Travelling as much as we do we tend to see patterns repeating themselves in various cities around the world. One of these is Planet Teacher, a place of rarefied atmosphere where reality takes on an altered perspective.
Another is the Top Table phenomenon. These two patterns tend to go hand in hand. It's an understandable human behaviour, but while they are good for the egos of those at their centres they don't do much for the development of the local dance scenes. There's not a lot of dignity in them, either.

It's a really big deal for a lot of people to be seen as teachers. I've actually greeted people at our practicas and had them tell me in their first breath that they are a teacher from another town. It sounds a bit sad and needy, but there you go.

Some of these people lose perspective by knowing more than someone else. They seem to feel that they have achieved membership of an elite, and we see many of them in various cities lose interest in dancing with lesser mortals. This doesn't usually mean they are good dancers eg the teacher that we saw in Paris dancing with a Young Pretty Girl (a YPG). He couldn't actually lead her into a giro and had to explain to her what he wanted her to do, pointing to where she should step. He had a very superior attitude but didn't seem to feel that it was in conflict with his inability to lead.... He was definitely on Planet Teacher.

Anyway, these people tend to cluster in cliques. They quite often sit together and in many cities only dance with each other. This is the Top Table phenomenon. These tables usually attract the young and pretty who don't usually dance very well but who qualify for inclusion by...being young and pretty. It's all a bit sad. What is even sadder is the allied phenomenon of new teachers of low ability inviting more experienced teachers to their dances on the proviso that they sit with them at their table. This is like offering your lunch money to the cool kids at school so that you can sit with them for a while. Oh dear....

One way of combating this kind of silliness, if combat is your thing, is by learning from good teachers and passing on what you know to as many people as possible. The effect is that the level of the surrounding dance scene rises and the Top Table loses relevance because most people dance better than them. I heartily advocate this kind of thing!


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