I have worked with a number of lefties over the years. This year I’ve got two lefties – first years, both of them. Lefties are a breed all by themselves. It’s great to have a lefty in a duet or group! They do things righties can’t do!
For me, it was a great experience learning how to dance in both directions at a young age. My ballet teacher thumped that into our brains very early. “You will do the positions on both sides ladies! No questions asked”. Ms. Belinda, was old school ballet.
I danced my very first jazz duet with a lefty. Her name was Corrina (a.k.a Kiki). She started dance young enough that she was able to get both left and right almost equally well. Corrina helped me to learn that age in training a lefty really matters. The younger you start, the shorter the time frame or learning curve will be. I watched her struggle, but she ended up a dance champion!
Age mattered greatly with one of my former students, her name was Mina. When we first got Mina we were all set to train her right style. So we thought. Luckily we got her at a really young age, and she was able to change our evil righty ways. She did too!
Another student of mine, Sarah, also was a lefty, but she was a dominate right turner. You never really know until you evaluate a lefty what will be their dominate dance side.
Each kid is as unique as the next. But, I find that lefties have a style all their own. Not only do they have to learn dance technique left facing – they also have the extra added component of having to learn right sided technique as well. I endorse the ballet philosophy that all students should be taught on both sides. Lefties often have a double load to carry. Righties shouldn’t get a free ride because of it.
Any instructor who has worked with a lefty will tell you – it takes a different approach to get a young student to do something that is totally unnatural in feel. The technique being taught isn’t necessarily complicated for the instructor, or the student – just awkward at first. It’s getting your students brains to memorize the muscle movement that brings it all together, for both right and left dancers. A good teacher will be up to the challenge. A good student will train that teacher right, by training them to teach left first.
The only difference between a lefty and a righty is the teacher.
As an instructor I learned that with a lefty I had a lot more choreography options available. I gained variation in form, and the added ability to synchronize using different levels and directions. When working with a young group of dancers, if you have a lefty or two in the mix, it gives the whole group the opportunity to expand in their knowledge of formations and creativeness in styling and flair. If your choreography is done right, it can add a level of difficulty as well.
When you train a lefty – try these :
- Ask the entire class to do everything left first. Old school ballet.
- Encourage additional stretching on the opposite side to avoid potential injury.
- Check if your student turns better on the right than the left. I’ve worked with students who are lefties but still turn better on the right.
- Check the strength of your student’s ankles. Be sure they are strong enough to go dominate in another direction, like learning pirouettes.
- If your lefty has trouble learning the routine, ask your instructor if you can record it against a mirror if necessary.
- Correct turnout immediately! Either side
Lefties tend to become competitive as they age. They have earned the right of progression due to their versatility and ability to adapt and learn at double the pace.
I know many righties who can’t turn either way. So, it would be unfair to try to justify a statement like “you can’t do anything” because you are a lefty.
Lefties will work hard for you. Once a lefty gains confidence you get a double plus in the presentation side. Like I said, Lefties love to compete as they age. And they do it so well! I enjoy good competition where a lefty and a righty go head to head on the dance floor. As equals.
Bottom line is this. Each dancer (left or right) is unique. Each will present to you, with their own set of inconsistency’s and strengths. Many will astound you. They will rise up to a level you may not be anticipating.
Good luck teachers