Ballroom teachers needed - no experience required

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

  1. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Lots of people do heel turns incorrectly. Either the girl does her part wrong or the guy leads it wrong. Should we take it out of the syllabus?

    I'm sorry Chris, but the idea that a step should be taken out because it's often done imperfectly is just silly. Doing two steps for an entire song is silly. Most social dancers and wedding couples don't have perfect technique and they don't need it.
  2. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Note that the first heel turn is near the end of the bronze waltz syllabus. This probably *is* too early, as heel turns really aren't going to make any sense until you have a well developed, stably balanced foxtrot walking action, and most wisely hold off on introducting bronze international foxtrot for a while. On the other hand, if the proper walking action was practiced in social/rhythm foxtrot, then the heel turn would be quite easy.

    I was just reading through old posts over on the newsgroup and someone was arguing that Arthur Murray was proud of having invented a way of dancing simpler than the demands of international technique. That probably is true for the really fundamental figures, but a lot of the variety of social bronze material that has crept back in is substantially harder to actually understand than a lot of what is danced in gold and even open standard competitions. The only way you can claim that this material is simple and suitable for beginners is if you presume that they won't bother to try to do it well.

    Unfortunatley, I think my main point is probably going to get lost in the details or the argument. But it's this: if you learn to dance by discovering and practicing building block concepts in a workable order, you will actually find it much, much more easy and do-able than if you try to attempt things which aren't going to feel right without being used to the feel of the underyling concepts. The way to make dancing seem hard and inaccsessable is to push material that the students don't have the required skills to execute; the way to make it seem easy is to build the skills first and then introduce figures that will quickly make sense as an application of existing skills. Yes, you should give new beginners enough material to dance and enjoyably practice basic skills - but that doesn't have to be any great variety, and it shouldn't include things that are going to feel awkward or unnatural without the underlying technique (promenade and heel turns being two good examples).

    I'd even venture to guess that one of the reasons so few people consider trying competition dancing is that they feel mastering their social bronze material to competition quality would be an impossible task. What they don't realize is that many of the people who have a bit of experience dancing in competitions agree... and so instead work on more reasonable figures which we do feel we have a chance of executing with confidence.
  3. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    He did. All over the country, people walk into a foxtrot class, having never danced before, and are able to successfully dance it around the floor with a partner. Bronze american style moves are easier to execute with a partner with a minimum of instruction in technique. International style requires more technique just to get through it.

    Case in point. No american style social dancer has to hold off on foxtrot.
  4. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    You have to be more specific before this statement is accurate. Some of the elementary bronze american style moves are easier to execute than some of the basic moves of the competitive international dances. But the reverse is also true (I can explain a good progressive link in terms of large, easily seen and executed motions, wheras the equivelent american tango action is quite subtle and hard to understand). Further, many of the legal bronze american figures include closed-hold challenges found only on the gold international syllabus if at all.

    Nor does an international style dancer with a tradition-oriented teacher. The international codification of the social/rhythm foxtrot is a simpler introductory dance than the popular american form, as it lacks (or at least lacked) promenade figures, open work, and all sorts of other complications. Of course in the US we'd call it by the local name while concentrating on only the basic actions and sending them to clean up in bronze smooth events.

    I don't mean this to be an international vs. american debate though - I believe good program of dance training would cherry pick the best examples and opportunities from both styles.
  5. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    It takes some sort of understanding, no, a great deal of understanding, to feel the beauty of doing a few simple moves with correctly flawless technique with the muisc and partner. I feel pressured to learn a lot of stuff, in some ways, as most people don't understand this. :( This is why I consider myself a beginner.
  6. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    It also takes being around those who can demonstrate what it looks like when done right. I'll admit I didn't appreciate the value of rhythm foxtrot until a year or more into things, but then I missed my team's introductory semester and was playing catch-up for quite a while too.

    Doing it right takes quite a bit of determination too - I once tried to do a "demonstration" wall of it in a gold event where we were short on ideas, and even with pre-planning we couldn't pull it off at a level comparable to that of those winning Harvard's early-fall beginner competition. Done with full foot usage it's actually quite beautiful to watch.
  7. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    I wouldn't like your choice of figures if I was dancing am. foxtrot with you. I would feel that I want to be in control (lead) and do something fun instead.

    when I dance I like to move in different ways and different directions. I wouldn't be happy moving backwards in a straight line all the time. Doing this for one song I'd be fine, trying to feel the leader, adjust, warm up. But moving in a circle backwards the whole evening is not my thing. I like to dance.
  8. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Hey, I try to be fair - In the progressive basic you are moving forward half the time... The actual progression is mostly sideways for both of us.

    Or does "progressive basic" have a meaning other than the quarter-turn like pattern I'm thinking of?
  9. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    one thing is when you are in competition and judges will look at you only for 10 seconds, and they are not watching you perform, they are judging your technique - it is allright to be doing (very well) same steps over and over.
    But if you have to dance a wedding dance, for one minute and a half, while everyone is watching, most peope would feel silly doing just one step. Besides most of their audience would appreciate some more cute steps (like UATs) rather than really good basics repeated 50 times.
    Even if you think that it is wrong that people would prefer steps to quality at this sort of occasion, that is what people would like to see. Don't tell me they are all "wrong" and "don't understand anything". Of course they don't. But they understand just enough...
  10. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    ok, if you meant quater turns I might be ok. As long as there is some turning involved...

    I have met people who danced something different from quater turns and called it "am. foxtrot basic".

    still, having a really good leader lead quater turns all evening is wasteful :)
  11. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Maybe the reason guys are afraid of doing wedding dances is that people think too much about the audience. If you were to dance american foxtrot basics "with" me, I promise you it would feel like dancing. Would you rather memorize a silly routine to show off what you learned, or do something really close, cooperative, and relaxing with your new spouse? Do you think the wedding guests want to see a show, or do they want to see how close and happy you feel just by being (moving) together?
  12. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Ok, I thought you were referring to the forward basic, too. The names I've heard for the step you describe are zig-zag or junior/senior walk (senior is outside partner). Of course, that's the annoying thing about american style...the same pattern will have ten different names!!

    I think people take dance lessons for their wedding because they want to do something more fun and interesting than clinging and swaying. Doing one step, while barely more interesting, is still boring after about 30 seconds.
  13. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    They want to see a show. Trust me on this. Why do you think we spent the entire periood of our engagement in 2 hours a week coaching for one stinking 90 second long routine?

    All the wedding couples I have taught have wanted the "flashy" stuff like dips and spins. Not one couple has said "Gee we just want to be comfortable dancing with each other". In fact, I've heard more than once that the entire family was "looking forward to seeing their wedding dance since they were taking lesson". The implication by way of tone of voice and facial expresssion was that something MOMENTOUS was to take place during their first dance.
  14. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    ok, now it is playing with words, and I am not going to participate... I just meant that your priorities and what you think is good looking and good feeling is different from other (non-competing and some competing) people. And most people think it is silly to go into details of technique knowing just one basic step for a dance.

    Sounds very promising, I'd dance a song of basics with you, even though I think it would be wasteful :)
    I have a full team of beginners to dance basics with...
  15. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    I thought people usually got married because they were in love?

    (yes I probably picked the wrong name for the zigzag basic)
  16. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Becuase as dance competitors that's how you express yourself.

    I feel like if I married a competition partner, we'd do a show because that's what we are conditioned to expect.

    If I married a non-dancer (unthinkable, but for sake of argument) we'd do a little degenerate-foxtrot slow dancing.

    Though in a relationship mature and developed enough to justify marriage... I might feel like doing the slow dance even with another competitive dancer. Or both a slow dance AND a show.
  17. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    At the time we married, my husband had barely been dancing a year. I would hardly call him competitive level at that point. However, because I'd been dancing all MY life, the onus was on ME to look good. Can't tell you how many comments I got.

    But I digress... I was talking about people I taught - and THEIR comments - not just my personal experience.
  18. Kitty

    Kitty New Member


    Why do you want to do foxtrot at all? Just stand close to each other and do some swaying to music... 8)
  19. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    The whole point of standing closing to each other and swaying to the music is to share something that feels completely comfortable and natural. For a trained standard dancer to fully suppress their habits would be unnatural - so you get slow dancing with a hint of rhythm foxtrot.
  20. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    What's that supposed to mean?

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