Ballroom Dance > Expectations for syllabus and open dancers

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by cantskiforlife, Sep 20, 2008.

  1. The time restriction standard in the new egland area for the past four years has been:

    First semester -->. Pre-bronze
    Second and third semester --> bronze
    Fourth semester and up --> silver or above

    Last year some teams clarified this to mean semesters in which you were actually dancing versus semesters from when you started dancing. This was done to accompdate all those students who traveled abroad for a semester or two. I have never heard of a restriction on silver.

    I actually have a point calculator in excel that I wrote 2 years ago. I will see if I can dig it up when I get home.
  2. I do think the time restriction a ok for ore-bronze but otherwise I think it is a bad thing to have and enforce.

    I am a fan of the ycn point system and think this should be the standard to go by. Besides if you feel ready to move up.

    One problem I have not yet mentioned with the college scene is the emphasis on learning steps and routines at the expense of technique. I have not seen alteams besides browln that actually drill their students at the begining of each lesson. Some even go against a coaches recommendation to work on technique and are simply hired to provide routines and if time permits, technique.
  3. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    This can be an issue, but it's key to remember that the fault lies with the coaches, and not with the competitions.

    If you look at for example the MIT open, material from the full syllabus is actually legal even in the effectively-bronze "beginner" level. However, that doesn't mean that dancing gold material is the way to win it. Instead, it means that dancing whatever you can do well is the way to win it.

    I think a lot of coaches coming from the studio and pro/am model really don't know how to work the collegiate scene, with its unabashed emphasis on practicality. i can recall cases in which after a weak of coaching by team members, the new recruits were exposed to a professional - who then proceeded to demonstrate more sloppily than those beginners themselves would be performing a month later as they cut through umpteen rounds to the final of the Harvard beginner's comp. (Granted nobody does bronze american foxtrot well unless they take time to really concentrate on it, but then, that's exactly what collegiate beginners from the teams that understand the situation do during their first semester)
  4. Warren J. Dew

    Warren J. Dew Well-Known Member

    How many teams besides Brown have you been on?
  5. skwiggy

    skwiggy Well-Known Member

    These rules were in effect in the mid Atlantic area, and I was told by some of the people who helped the college scene grow in this area that it was an effort by YCN.

    We may be talking about a different set of rules in a different region, since I have no idea about the evolution of these rules in Boston.

    Again, must be a different set of rules, because I remember this rule first hand.

    This would make sense for the time limit on Bronze. But obviously the time limit on all syllabus levels that I recall would make sense as a temporary measure to help generate activity across all levels and prevent too much bottleneck.

    I remember the time limit on gold first hand. I didn't make this up, it really did exist. It's only the origins of and reasoning behind it that I am trying to report what I recall being told.
  6. I have attended practices for Brown, WPI, MIT, Harvard, URI, BU. I have competed for WPI, MIT, Harvard, BU. I am familiar with the coaches for Tufts, Holy Cross, RIC. You could say I am kinda a ballroom slut :raisebro:
  7. Perhaps,as I have mentioned, it is just semantics and I would prefer to have an additional one or two categories called bronze I, bronze II, full bronze --> Similar to what they do in Pro-AM (for different reasons).
  8. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    What you would have experienced at MIT would depend on lot on whose class you showed up for - there are many different coaches each with their own philosophy of what to do in a class, and to an extent the team is a result of the best of all of the ideas. You might not for example have anything drill-like in standard after the first year, but having it then still sets the idea that there are specific physical skills that enable the more obvious things. Curious if you ever attended a latin class with MIT?
  9. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    I think that's exactly the wrong direction to go in, and exactly what is wrong with the typical studio approach - why studios graduate so few dancers capable of putting on their shoes and actually competing, and college teams produce so many (as evidenced again by amateur finals through pre-champ being chock full of college community alumni, and the rare adult-starters seen in champ finals again being more likely collegiate alumni than not)

    Basically, by having lot of shades of bronze and keeping everyone in the first division or two, then a big gap until the tiny open & professional cores, it's a big loud statement that you can't really do this, only special people can.

    In contrast, by having a gently tapering pyramid that goes all the way to the top of the non-professional dance world, the collegiate tradition is a big loud yes, you can do this if you want to put in the work - and there's ample demonstration of people who actually are doing it - the path exists in practice, not just in hardly ever exercised theory.
  10. Perhaps we can compromise on this. I don't blame a coach when the team provides the class/course details and provide no time for technique. I do blame a coach that agrees with this or does not suggest altering the syllabus to focus on technique as applied to fewer patterns.

    The MIT competition is kind of like dancing Open Bronze and Open Silver in Pro-am. In one sense it is a nice way to show off your application of skills to different patterns and get excited for next year. I think more often (for whatever reason) it is simply a showcase of poorly thrown together routines because people think they need more moves to win.
  11. No - mostly have seen standard. I think their biggest problem is lack of space. The building 34 hallway isn't really that conducive to practice.
  12. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Perhaps on some couples, but on the couples that win their events, its more a demonstration of the value of doing what you can do well.

    I think the whole thing is actually a bit of a learning opportunity: "Here is a license to shoot yourself in the foot. Let's see if you are wise enough not to do it."

    There have been a number of complaints that the collegiate division progression forces couples to learn, teams to contract, or coaches to teach advanced material too early. I think this is a great lesson in learning to ignore such false pressure and just focus on what you are good at.

    The only "teaching to the comp" that should go on for MIT is optionally spending some time on the dances that are not usually offered at bronze, but again that's fully optional as they are seperate events from the core dances.
  13. I LOVE IT!!!!

    As an instructor, or team captain, I don't think it is ones opportunity to test people on identifying false pretenses. I think it is ones opportunity to provide a cohesive learning experience. If a calculus professor decided to teach both calculus and linear algebra in the same class to see if you could weed out the linear algebra, and focus on the calculus, would he be doing his job?

    Well said.
  14. I am still waiting to hear from people about their expectations (personal or professional) are for each syllabus level? Anyone?
  15. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    I did not mean to suggest that the team apparatus try to trick their members by taking part in the administration of the test.

    Instead, what I meant was that the whole-syllabus opportunity was a chance for the entire system of a team - dancers, team officers, and coaches - to discover the importance of working on the dancing itself, and learning not to get caught up in the choreography. It demonstrates the opposite of the "placed out of bronze so have to get a silver routine" fallacy - not just to the students, but to their immediate mentors as well.

    Large beginner events in particular seem to be every bit as much a test of a team's ability to identify and present key information in a group class, as they are of the individual dancers on that team, though that is of course a factor too. This shows up in the way that some teams have lots of strong couples (though sometimes no stars), while others are generally weak but have a single case or two where the factors all seemed to luckily line up right.
  16. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    Here's what comes to mind. No doubt this list will differ from the priorities others may have, and these are just coming off the top of my head at 3AM!


    • Basic footwork is correct and clean
    • Dance frame is sufficient to lead/follow and present well
    • Posture is tall and well presented
    • Swing is present and accompanied by correct sway
    • Basic understanding of turning and fundamental differences in left vs. right
    • Reasonable floorcraft and logical alignment and movement of figures
    • Good showing of different types of rise and fall within the dance
    • Good characterization of the dance
    • Greater understanding of promenade and transitions into and out of
    • Higher quality of movement from step to step, greater use of standing leg
    • More clear separation of space between partners
    • More characterization of each dance (i.e., tango looks more like tango, etc.)
    • Wing position and transitions
    • Each partner begins to dance himself/herself to a greater degree, creating a more dynamic partnership
    • Creating shape with the bodies for effect and look
    • Greater use of the feet and floor to create shape and lead
    • Everything in Bronze but to a greater degree of accuracy!
    • Creating good picture lines with subtlety and finesse
    • Quality pivots, including slip pivots
    • Great understanding of continuously rotating figures
    • Larger and more "danceable" shapes are created
    • Impeccable posture and clean footwork, super strong feet
    • More power, greater use of the standing leg
    • Everything in bronze/silver, only better and more!
  17. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    This is exactly the kind of impractical expectation that is why studios graduate so few dancers who will ever get to the level of practical experience where they might start learning these concepts for real. It happens only sporadically in spite of such a plan, not systematically because of it, because it's fundamentally not a workable progression. The majority of the people who get to the level where they start to get these things right got there by rapidly progressing their dancing over all, and then addressing these issues at the point where they started to become limiting.

    Take sway for example. A bronze dancer is not going to move enough for movement coupled sway to really come into the picture, because they don't yet have the foot strength or standing leg usage habits to do so. The amount of coupled sway that would be appropriate for that level of movement is too subtle for that level of understanding. So what really happens is that bronze is danced without sway, and then sway starts to come in as movement increases, and finally around gold they start to balance each other.

    What it's ultimately necessary to do is to choose a few key concepts - for example, foot usage and posture, and push them in the background while teaching practical material to exercise them. The key difference is that progress in those long range issues is not an administratively gating factor to progress overall - it can help of course, but it should not be holding people back from their progress through the system, in large part because the difference is between getting it really right and everything else, not between doing nothing and doing something that looks approximate but is functionally fake - which is what often ends up communicated when there's an insistence on exhibiting some skill before it can be coupled to its proper causes.
  18. Chris,

    I would like to see what you can come up with. It almost seems like you fundamentally disagree that there should be any expectations for bronze, silver, and gold dancers?

    I agree that some of those concepts seem a bit much to me (on first glance). That is why I created this thread - to see what people think.
  19. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    Cantski, are these expectations of every bronze dancer, or is it, by the time you finish bronze, you should have mastered these aspects? (second is way I read it).
  20. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    Read the list again with this emphasis. I use words like "correct," "sufficient," "reasonable," and "good":
    • "that basic footwork is correct" (NOT perfect)
    • "dance frame is sufficient" (NOT perfect)
    • "posture is tall" (NOT impeccable)
    • "swing is present with correct sway" (NOT developed)
    • "reasonable floorcraft and logical alignments" (NOT perfect)
    • "good showing of rise and fall" (NOT perfect)
    • "good characterization" (NOT complete)
    All of these things are BASICS. What would you have the dancer not know and demonstrate (besides sway I guess)? They won't be there all the time, but moving to the next level without any one of these elements being shown at least somewhat consistently will leave the dancer without a solid foundation for more difficult figures. Oh and by the way, a major function of sway is simply stylistic, so large amounts of swing need not be present in order to show a good dance, particularly in foxtrot--no doubt you've seen this?

    I advocate performing the basics well (not perfectly, but in a correct fashion) before "graduating." Any system that forces dancers to move on without ensuring proper dancing at a particular level (for example, moving to the next level every year) is IMO working against the very purpose of having the syllabus in place to begin with.

    There are no doubt fundamental differences in the collegiate system (forgive my limited understanding of it) versus the studio system. In the studio system, the students often have full time jobs, are not conveniently located to the studio, and may often have to put family/work/etc priorities ahead of dancing, or may simply not be as driven to progress as quickly (i.e., they do it just for fun). By the way though, I'd say most students I teach who are talented and driven are into silver a year after they begin pretty easily, and they do well at it.

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