Expectations for syllabus and open dancers

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

  1. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Okay, I'll bite, based on my own experience:

    Bronze: Knows difference between left and right, can find the beat of the music, can follow instructions enough to actually learn how to dance.

    Silver: Has developed personal strength and balance, which enables movement and the beginnings of shaping.

    Gold: Technical consolidation.

    Open: Signs of understanding of basic fundamentals, now the real journey begins.
  2. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    Aha -- so this falls in the second clause of my post: "Suppose there's no such consensus; can we prescribe a solution without having been among the observers?"

    It seems to me that trying to formally specify the skill levels is like trying to solve that problem. It seems tough, too, because we don't know (without looking) whether the bronze dancers you mentioned were really good, the gold dancers were relatively unskilled, the judges got enough coffee, how long either couple had been dancing, what step figures they tried to use, etc. Yet, we could write down answers to all that and more, and in principle could have handed the result to the couples in advance such that they would have agreed with the document, followed its instructions, and thus sorted themselves out into the, "right," levels, prior to competing.

    (Or am I making this too complicated?)
  3. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    heh...you're Open is Bronze on my list. *grin* but i understand what you're saying and agree.

    it's all one big loop of learning the basics...as you've alluded to. :)
  4. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    for myself, i feel like i'm still on the leading edge of this. there's dancing and there's *dancing*, y'know?

    fwiw, i rarely see much real dancing before the open level in pro-am. am talking standard, tho. it's a different vibe in latin -- there's some good dancing all over the levels...and definitely in part because so many people come down into bronze and dance their gold & open routines there.:rolleyes:
  5. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    This seems like an interesting approach to the question.

    So as leaders, don't we solve this problem when (for example) we decide what steps to lead when partnered with an unfamiliar follower?

    I feel certain that followers solve it similarly, with judgments over what was led and how...

    (Yes, in both cases there are other aspects of social dances.)

    Of course I'm cheating by suggesting an answer based on dancing experience rather than observation.
  6. and123

    and123 Well-Known Member

    You mean like "OMG, this person is hanging all over me and can't seem to move herself. Better stick to bare basics so I don't get hurt." Severe inefficiency in dance movement is generally visible to the eye. If a couple is struggling badly, you can see it.
  7. waltzguy

    waltzguy Active Member

    Haha, exactly what I thought, in a recent social dance when my dance partner was "stolen" from me. :mad:
  8. waltzguy

    waltzguy Active Member

    I kinda like this explanation. It would be interesting what you think of my dance. Is it bronze, or silver, or gold.
  9. Laura

    Laura New Member

    This question makes me a little uncomfortable because not only am I not a judge or a teacher, I don't know who you are :) If we've danced together and you really want an opinion, you can PM me and we can talk, but this is just a friend-to-friend opinion and not any kind of qualified evaluation.
  10. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    Well, I'm not so worried about getting hurt, so far.

    Frame, posture, and step size convey a lot, just in the first few measures. Why would I lead a newbie with giant continuity steps? It would make us both unhappy; and I've seen far too many lamentations on that subject here to suppose it would be a good idea in any case.

    I have guessed that followers make similar assessments in the first few measures of a song, and adjust their frame, amount of contact, step size, figure repertoire (e.g.: "odd lead, but I bet it's not a left whisk!"), etc. according to what the leader feels like -- no?
  11. DL

    DL Well-Known Member


    ...and, to be more explicitly on topic (for standard):

    If the posture or frame aren't there, I will lead newcomer/bronze steps.

    If the posture and frame are there, I'll try a couple of bronze steps and pay attention to balance and step size. If she moves herself, far, in time with me, with balance, I'll try a few silver steps (otherwise back to bronze).

    If she's clearly seen the silver steps, on with that (otherwise back to bronze). Then I pay attention to promenade, shape, body contact. If those take effort, I stick to silver.

    Beyond that, we're a bit above my social comfort level, but if pressed I'll say I pay attention to her ability to help with floorcraft, and following precision (both, "How accurately can I place her?" and, "Can I play with the timing and expect her to follow me a bit off-beat?").

    If all of that goes swimmingly and she seems up for it, I'll be willing in principle to try gold steps -- but I still think those are tough to lead and for now I tend not to try this except with partners I know. Sometimes, too, in that case, I end up leading something like bronze american foxtrot, which can be even better...

    With all of that said, I also "promote" certain figures in the syllabus hierarchy -- for example, I won't include a double reverse spin among bronze figures I'll try with a beginner.
  12. Hmm, I am surprised more people did not respond with their thoughts...
  13. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Moderator

    Some of us are still adjusting our thoughts. ;)
  14. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    I thought about this thread at the party this weekend watching a new couple dance. They had been taking lessons for several years, and danced with the woman,a nd she certainly knew what she was doing. But watching them do a waltz brought this subject up. They were doing continuity work, and definitely had floorcraft I'd expect of experienced dancers. So First thought says silver (or higher) to me. Also know they were doing steps (outside of plain continuity aspect) that are not on our bronze syllabus. But Very minimal rise and fall, loose frame, etc. So was a little stumped there. Admittedly, could just be that it was a social setting, and could completely understand that as reason to not put in full effort. But maybe that's way they always dance. So, bronze or silver? I don't know. Depends on your criteria, as we've said.
  15. I think some skills are to be worked on at all levels and are usually cleaned up with time/ experience. For instance Floorcraft. Bad frame and poor rise/fall would identify a bronze dancer. Continuity - I believe it was chris who mentioned that - steps don't actually identify a dancers skill level. Rather, technique and quality of the footwork identifies someone's level.
  16. reb

    reb Active Member

    A Bronze dancer does not need to have a bad frame.

    Bad frame and poor rise/fall are not limited to Bronze - or Silver - or students . . .

    ;)
  17. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    How about this? :)
  18. I think what makes this question tough is that each teacher/ student has their own set of skills they choose to work on at one given point.

    While one dancer could focus on floorcraft and movement until they are gold quality and at the same time neglect frame and posture, others could focus on frame and posture and neglect floorcraft and movement.

    When I think about this problem - what to expect at different levels - I look at individual skills - like frame, toe-heel leads, connection, movement, etc... - as a general concept and then break each one down to what I would expect to see at each level. My example above shows this breakdown.

    If one wanted to develop a purely mathematical system for determining skill level, one could easily identify say 15-20 key skills required to ballroom dance well and give each a ranking of importance for each skill level. If you turned this into a weighted-objectives-table, people could be rated on how well they meet each skill and an overall score could be determined. Each skill level would relate to a score range from the chart.

    As my explanation may be unclear/confusing, I will try to provide an example in excel over the next few days.
  19. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    This may work for describing the syllabus track as presented to adults.

    But the thing is, it's not descriptive of the progress of the young dancers who become our future champions and professionals. Their progress through the formative years is not measured so much in mastery of details, as it is in energy, capability, and impression. To the extent that they can overcome something like bad footwork, it's not a negative in their performance - until they go up against someone who brings all of the energy and capability that they do, and more, because they are supported by better feet.

    Theory aside, the practical reality is that you measure level by the progress of the capability in dancing itself. The technical details come into attention not when they are wrong, but when problems there are functionally impeding the dancing.

    That's not to deny in any way that the technical basics receive a lot of work - but dancing is not a sum of the technique; dancing is dancing - technique is a tool to enable it.
  20. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    Well, I'll be curious to see your example, but I think it will work if and only if judges, teachers, and students *all* were to achieve universal consensus on the weights, and the way the skills were defined (and if there is at least one way to define them all orthogonally).

    But, I bet everyone can agree that there's a threshold on the table you mention, where if at least score X is achieved in every category, everybody agrees it's significant. I bet that also correlates roughly to a widely -- if loosely -- agreed-upon transition point from syllabus to open.

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