Ballroom teachers needed - no experience required

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by pygmalion, Aug 6, 2004.

  1. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    They wanted to learn a few steps for their wedding. For that, they don't need to spend hours on technique...they need to learn how to move their bodies together and to the music. Most couples I teach can do at LEAST two steps...a progressive step and a turning step in their first hour. Very rarely can they only get through the first step, and this couple was not like that. I am able to get the same from a group class. When you are doing the same step back and forth, back and forth across the room and the teacher isn't making any corrections (just watching you practice), you are not getting a good value for your money.
     
  2. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Certainly if the teacher is not continuing to provide some input while watching your practice you are wasting your money. However I feel like the progressive basic can be plenty of material in which to practice the important ideas of moving two bodies together with the music - sure, you can probably put a rock turn in during the first hour but it's not a serious loss if you don't get to that. I'd think the important idea is to just get them used to dancing together - to the idea that it's something they can do, and send them home to practice it for a week before making things more complicated.
     
  3. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I think it's important that beginning students are not bored. For most, one step is boring. Honestly, there's only so much that they can practice with one step. By giving them a turn, they are now able to move all the way around the dance floor and can practice lead and follow, transitions, and floor craft. Disagree all you want, but these people do not need to be learning advanced topics like swing and sway during their first lesson (or at all, if they're not going to keep dancing after their wedding or whatever).

    For a typical first lesson in foxtrot, I teach the forward basic, ssqq. I explain the timing and basic footwork (step with the heel going forward, release the toe going backward). I have them practice it by themselves but in front of each other (so they can see what their partner does). If they're doing well, I then put them in dance position (explaining where the hands go, to keep tone in their arms, etc). If they're struggling, I have them hold hands for a couple of passes first. Then they do it with music for a few passes. When they feel comfortable with that, I teach them the left rock turn, have them practice, try it together, talk about the lead and follow, then put it with the basic. Dance around the room without and then with music. If there's time left, I give them some partnering exercises that they try a little in the lesson but are to practice at home.

    After the first lesson, I review what they learned before and add another step, and so forth until they reach capacity or have enough steps (including an entrance and ending). I also introduce as much technique as I feel they need and can handle, correct errors, enhance the lead and follow, etc. The last lesson they rarely learn anything new unless it's slight variations on what they've learned--we spend the time rehearsing from beginning to end, correcting problems, etc.

    I usually don't give them a full on routine...they learn steps and when they can use these steps, so they are truly leading and following. We'll often put bits together...ie, two or three patterns that go well together, which makes it easier on the guys than fully winging it or remembering a choreographed routine.
     
  4. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    I don't mean to start a big argument over the rock turn when I generally admire the way you've said you would teach a wedding couple. I think the turn is usefull and appropriate to put in early if there's time. I just wouldn't be critical of someone for leaving it out of the first lesson - chances are there are other more serious flaws in a lesson that justly deserves criticism, and not every lesson which leaves it out would be flawed, since it's entirely possible to move around the floor just by curving the basic.
     
  5. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Sorry to get all up in arms...I guess my point is just that most people can handle learning more than one step in one lesson (certainly this couple was), so by not doing more than that they don't feel they're getting a good value (because the studio is drawing it out in hopes of getting more money out of them) and they're bored. Makes the industry look bad, the studio and instructor look bad, and the student is left with a bad experience.
     
  6. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    Which ones?
     
  7. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Progressive basic and rock turn
     
  8. Waltz Lover

    Waltz Lover New Member

    original question -

    When I first heard from my dance studio that they purposely hire people with no ballroom dance experience, I was incredulous. The way my instructor explained it (who did most of the training), was that this way, they insure that the instructors-in-training are not coming to them with bad habits. Those bad habits are much more difficult to work out than just teaching them correctly from the beginning.

    For the most part, I don't have a problem with the six-week-wonders teaching the wedding couples. However, you are charging those wedding couples the same amount for instruction from a beginner instructor, that more advanced students are paying the same rate for better instructors.

    I had a problem with my first studio - they quicky realized I was progressing fast and buying their contracts. They had a policy of having two instructors. My main instructor was great - very advanced and capable of teaching. My secondary instructor assigned to me was a newbie instructor, then the studio switched me from him to another after I finished their foundation program. However, halfway through the bronze program, my second instructor was showing a few flaws that I could catch(he'd been teaching 2 years). I eventually had enough of that and politely, privately requested that he not instruct me anymore. By then I already knew I was going to compete someday and he was more socially oriented. I really didn't feel comfortable that I was the one to recognize, and had to request no more instruction from him.
     
  9. etchuck

    etchuck New Member

    I agree that for most everyone one step in a beginner class is boring. But I guess it does depend on technique. I usually start of with my lessons by teaching people the basic steps to have one manuever around the floor. In foxtrot (American) it would be basic progressive, promenade, promenade with ladies' UAT (on slows or on quicks), rock turn at the corners. Then I start putting in more stuff, like ladies' UAT to back-to-backs. But I do try to group figures together so that they make sense (as they did with me when I was learning).
     
  10. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    What? No grapevines or UAT to develope?

    More seriously, I have a real problem with promenade figures being included in a basic introduction like this, because it's 100% guaranteed that they will be done incorrectly in ways which build bad habits and perpetuate popular misconceptions about promenade. If's there's any real wisdom in the studio that was refusing to hire instructor trainees with existing habits, it would apply here too - get used to doing extremely complex things like promenade the wrong way, and it will take a long time to get the right habits.
     
  11. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    No I'm remembering all that I have forgotten!! :oops:
     
  12. DancePoet

    DancePoet New Member

    Regarding the Foxtrot progressive basic and rock turn, hopefully the teacher would be good enough to figure out whether or not the couple could handle more then just the basic during the first lesson. Different couples will progress differently and a teacher should be able to adapt.
     
  13. tasche

    tasche New Member

    I would be terribly upset if I only learnt 1 step in my first dance lesson. I think 3 is a reasonable number. a student should at the evry least be "dancing" at the end of the lesson.

    Even in a beginning ballet class ( I sometimes drop in an take clasess with 7 yo) they throw several combinations at you ( for both adult and children) now ballet is a displine thats very focused on perfection but the aim is to slowly get better over time and no-one gets it perfect first time

    Now to teach a student(s) only one step for an hour is a waste as it will take time to perfect that one step that you'll get better results by learning several at once as they will all take time to absorb. If you only do one at a time your progress will grind to a halt
     
  14. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    What makes foxtrot a good introductory dance is that you only need one step (progressive basic) in order to feel like you're dancing. In fact that one step and it's minor variation (rock turn) is pretty much all you ever need to learn for material in that dance.

    Saw a wedding invitation in a stationary store the other day with a diagram of foot movements for one cycle of the progressive basic on the cover. And the thing is, that little diagram is all your really need to know in order to enjoy the dance. Further, if you want to learn to be a good dancer, the only really important lesson of this dance is what comes from studying that single figure in detail.
     
  15. tasche

    tasche New Member

    Ah Chris but I'm a woman and its all about what I want not what I need :wink:
     
  16. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Then hire someone to drag you around the floor ;-)
     
  17. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    I don't think promanade should be excluded because is an important step, characteristic of the dance. Besides, you will always do something wrong, no matter what the step is, does that mean we shouldn't ever dance? so that we don't build bad habits. And also I think if people are paying attention in class, promenades don't have to be so bad for their technique. If they are not paying attention, they will never be ready...
     
  18. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    I don't think promenade is either characteristic of or well suited to the social/rhythm foxtrot. The closed footed openings to promenade are very weak leading actions which really encourage bad habits. I find this also to be true of the default American Tango promenade opening. In contrast, the continuity openings of silver smooth, and the progressive link of international tango are far easier to clearly lead based on some simple building block actions. The whisk of international waltz is a hard call... it's a clear PP lead, but difficult to do without distorting badly.

    I think at this point, if I were teaching dance, I'd introduce the idea of promenade with the progressive link action in international tango. The lack of rise means it's easier to stand there and think about what you have to do in two dimensions and one rotational axis, in contrast to the swing dancers where you have to blend motions in three dimensions and three axis - and work the feet much harder to support it all.
     
  19. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I don't think it's ill-suited to social foxtrot at all. It's a cute step. If you teach it correctly, they'll do it correctly.
     
  20. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    I'd be quite interested to see video... I agree it can be cute, but I'll be amazed to see anyone - even most teachers - do it correctly on a regular basis. For most, the temptation to break a shoulder or push the joined hands open is too great to avoid even while demonstrating to students.

    There are no promenade figures in Alex Moore's description of slow rhythm "foxtrot". Anyone know if there are any on the ISTD slow rhythm test?
     

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