by Fred Bijster
I hope most of you had the pleasure of knowing Len Goodman. He surely is one of the great minds we have in our business. The combination of a wonderful sense of humor, fantasy and a holistic view on dancing, combined with the ability to put his views into words in a very understandable and vivid way makes him one of the greatest lecturers in the world.
One of the most difficult challenges in any lecture is that most of the time they are contemporary. Not so with Len. They are not locked in time. Two great lectures of Len spring directly in my mind, since they were true over twenty years ago and still are. One of them has now even become very actual. It was visionary…
This lecture tells the story of a dancing career as a metaphor of two people in a boat (the partnership), competing with many other boats (other couples) to reach the spring of the river (winning). On the way they meet all of the problems you can imagine; throwing partners overboard and finding a new one, being guided up a dead-end, crossing rapids, stranded on a sandbank … you name it, it was in the lecture and clear to recognize.
In the beginning the river is wide and full of boats. It is easy to row and pass along other boats. Guides (coaches) all know this part and can lead you further up the river.
When the river narrows, it becomes more difficult and only a few can tell you what to do.
Nearing the end you can hardly pass another boat and have to “get in line” and wait for an opportunity. Only a few will reach the spring in the end.
Of course I cannot tell it like Len, it needs Len, it’s his story. But if you ever have the opportunity to hear it, don’t miss that great lecture!
This is maybe even more interesting than the other. It tells the story of the unicorns, magical creatures living on a wonderful island. They are true masters in the art of dancing and the whole world knows this and learns from them and enjoys it.
In their fur they have fleas and the fleas are very jealous of the unicorns. They look what the unicorns are teaching and decide that they can make the dancing more exiting, quicker, and more of a show in general. They jump to the continent and turn the beautiful art of the unicorns into a circus. It is not as good of course, but the people love it and come to watch the circus in numbers. The circus conquers the world.
The fleas were very satisfied with themselves and made a lot of money.
And the unicorns watched what had happened to their wonderful art and cried.
A sad story and I only hope it is not the end …
Maybe we could invite Len to tell us another story. Maybe in this Education Department?
Personally I would like to thank Len for those two great lectures and the many others that were equally entertaining. They all were an educational trip for me for the rest of my life!