From Student to Teacher: How the Community in Nantes began

– An interview with Fredão (Frederic Binyom) 

(from ForróLetters #2)

For the last seven years, forró Nantes has been offering two classes, beginners and intermediate, as well as workshops, concerts and parties. There are currently 50 students taking classes and around one hundred regular dancers who come to the parties.

Fredão, how did your experience as a student help you to become a teacher ?

I started dancing forró after many years of salsa dancing. From the first notes of music it was love at first listen, from a music, dance and cultural point of view.
Always eager to learn, to have even more fun, I took lessons in Paris with Marion Lima and I ended up becoming a member of the “Compagnie du P’tit Bal Perdu”, a group developing choreographies and performing shows. Very comfortable as a student, a long-term member of the gang and friends with everyone, I was able to help or even stand in for Marion when needed.

How did you become a forró teacher? 

I left Paris with my partner Valou (a forrozeira) to move to Nantes where forró was almost non-existent, with no structured lessons. However, I was known in Nantes as a forró dancer, having had the opportunity to give a beginner workshop there previously, and I was very quickly asked to give lessons by a dance association.

This brought a big change, a lot of thinking, and a lot of doubts. The idea of switching from being the student where I was merely an experienced dancer giving advice, the accomplice, the one who makes jokes in class, to the teacher who is expected to create and give weekly, professional classes and help students progress, terrified me. It was not at all what I wanted and I was very uncomfortable with the request in the beginning.

On the other hand, I was aware that if I wanted to continue to enjoy and share my passion, I had to give my time, my energy and therefore invest in becoming a teacher. It would have been easy to only dance with my partner, but it was better to create a community of dancers.

How is it to be a teacher? 

It’s a lot of work, pressure, and thinking as my perspective of the dance and the dancer has changed. As teachers, we are alone. I am the only organizer and teacher in Nantes and the only one in front of my students who I feel have a lot of expectations. But … It has been a great experience, and for the past seven years with Forró Nantes, I have been enjoying dancing, seeing dancers enjoying themselves, progressing and sharing the same passion as me, also with the desire to pass on this passion. Dancing forró is a great excuse to have a good time and to be together.

Any advice for those wishing to become a teacher? 

You should be ready and aware that you will have to give a lot. It requires effort, time, energy, patience, and commitment. It requires accepting that you will not always have the answers but you will have to find them. Be aware that you receive little back – this is not the main reason to be a teacher – but what you do receive back is so enjoyable that it is worth it. And it feels so good to share, that you can only love being a teacher. You also have to like people if you are going to support them. It’s a great experience where you learn every day and which enables you to question yourself all the time, as a teacher and also as a person.

Find out more about Forró Nantes on their Facebook.