Person 1: You know Jane? From Zumba class?
Person 2: No. What's her last name?
Person 1: Doe.
Person 2: No... What does she look like?
Person 1: Uh, short-ish hair that's kind of light brown... She had on a blue tank top with some yoga pants?
Person 2: No... I'm not sure...
Person 1: She stands in the second row, on the left side, third spot in.
Person 2: Oh! Her! Yeah, I know her!
See? Spots are thing with Zumba people.
I'd never heard the term "front-row-diva" before spotting that picture on Pinterest. I've been in the front row a long time now (thanks to Rae) but I never really thought about it beyond: well that's just where my spot is now. To be honest, I never chose that spot and some of you may remember my post about that.
I'm being a little silly with my "knock down drag out" comment. Something like that just would not happen in Jae's or Rae's class. No way. However... Having recently become a certified instructor myself, I joined ZIN (Zumba Instructor Network) and suddenly my Zumba community has gone global. Now, because of that, I hear things, stories, that happen to other instructors in other parts of the world. As it turns out, this joke has a basis in reality. One instructor's story (and I am paraphrasing here) is that indeed a fist fight broke out between two women in the middle of her class over a front row spot. The story goes that Gal 1 marked her spot with a towel and left the room, because she didn't want to do the first three songs since they are warm-up songs. Okay, I'm going to interrupt the story there with a "Really...?" Honestly, some people. Behavior like that is disrespectful to the instructor who's gone to the effort to prepare the class and to the others in the room as well. At least it is in my opinion, but more than that even, it's disrespectful to her own body. Warm-up songs exist for a reason, they are necessary for getting your muscles limber and your body ready for the workout.
|Funny joke! Or is it?|
Really? My jaw about hit my keyboard when I read this story. For a couple of reasons. One, is that I can't imagine myself or any of my fellow classmates behaving that way towards one another. But two is, that when I go to Jae's class, I am alone in the front row about 50% of the time. Every couple of weeks, a brave person(s) will join me, but most of my classmates don't -want- the front row spots. I typically get the company on nights when there's something going on to cause the group to be smaller; bad weather, community event, etc. So then Jae tells everyone, "It's a smaller group tonight so feel free to come closer." Something about your teacher asking you to move up gives you the bravery to actually do it, I know firsthand. So all that being what I'm used to, this story about two women coming to physical blows was such diversion from the norm!
Reading this got me thinking. What exactly defines a "front-row-diva"? I really wanted to know because I'm pretty sure that if my class has one, it's me! So I started running down a mental checklist, things like: "How do I act in class?", "Am I making the class a bad experience for anyone?" So I dug around for more information and I compiled a few lists of "diva qualities" after doing -a lot- of reading on the subject. From what I read, gals labeled "divas" (and the guys labeled "divos"...heh) typically fell into one of three categories: 1) a really annoying diva student, 2) a really likeable diva student, 3) other teachers.
The "Bad Diva" Student
* Might stand directly in front of the teacher - in spite of the teacher's best efforts to move to the left or right
* Might stand directly next to the teacher (as in shoulder to shoulder)
* May try to upstage the teacher - or worse than that, try to take over and start directing the class her(him)self
* Stares at self in mirror (if available) to the point that she(he) misses cues and loses track of the song
* May wear a full face of makeup to class - further, may leave class briefly to retouch makeup
* May roll eyes or make annoyed faces at the teacher if the teacher misses a cue or a step
* May accept and/or make phone calls and/or texts in the middle of class - of the non-emergency variety
* May ad-lib or freestyle on purpose because they like their own moves better - this can include but not be limited to:
- ballet pirouettes
- splits (as in down on the floor...)
- random arm movments
- uneccessary hip gyrations
- grabbing free weights from the gym's rack to dance with (which is very unsafe)
- travelling in the opposite direction
- facing the opposite wall
Reading about people like that, I can totally understand why a reputation as a diva can be such a bad thing. I have to wonder also if some of them out there who act like this are even realizing how it comes across to others. But these traits put my mind at ease a little bit because the only ones that could possibly apply to me are the first two. It's the issue of personal space. One of my biggest challenges since the beginning has been keeping to my own spot and not invading someone else's. So Jae, Rae, ladies if I've been too much into your teaching zone, it was unintentional and I apologize! I try hard to keep travel steps and jumps small and I feel like I've seen improvement. I've really applied myself to fixing that in the last six months or so, since I started seriously considering certification. Students need to see their instructor setting a good example. If I can't keep to my own spot, how would I be able to ask my future students to?
The "Good Diva" Student
* A regular in the class and loyal to one (or two) specific teacher(s) - attends nearly every week
* Been a regular long enough to know the teacher's stuff - able to keep going even if the teacher makes a mistake (without being a jerk or making a big deal about it...)
* Sets a good example for any newbies who might be watching from the back row by following the teacher's directions and cues
* High energy/good energy, lots of smiles
Reading about these ladies (and men) I felt hopeful that maybe carrying the diva label is not entirely terrible. These stories about the great divas were all about how fun they are to have in class and that they are generally dependable if the teacher momentarily blanks on a step. When my class starts in January, this is the diva I hope I eventually get. The other kind I could really do without...
The Bad Diva Teacher
* Doesn't keep an eye on or help those who are new and/or struggling
* Too focused on her(him)self and her(his) own "performance"
* Won't stay to teach in one location long enough to build up a class - expects to be a "rock star" immediately
* Doesn't smile
* Only teaches to the more advanced students and not the beginners
* Leaves the students feeling like they can't do it or that they failed somehow
* Will rip down another teacher's class flyer
* Will post their own class flyer -over- another teacher's
* Goes to other teachers' classes/events and does any or all of the following:
- promotes own class/event loudly and incessantly
- badmouths that teacher to the students in that class
- attempts to poach the students
Best advice: Be aware of yourself. It will keep you from inadvertently hurting other people (or smacking someone with your merengue arms...). And if that does happen, and it will because everyone makes mistakes and we're all only human, own up to it and apologize.