Ballroom Dance > Make your own syllabus

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Chris Stratton, Feb 4, 2009.

  1. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Let's imagine that you are one of the founding members of a new professional teaching society and have been assigned the task of creating a syllabus step list as the basis for the materials that your society plans to publish. Your organization's charter mentions as goals both teaching dancing as it as practiced today, and promoting a soundly structured approach to education. You have essentially complete freedom to chose any figure, regardless if it is included in existing syllabi or not. However, the board of directors would like a few words explaining what each figure contributes either educationally or to enabling the characteristic flow of the dance.

    Pick a dance or two and list the figures on your syllabus...
  2. Warren J. Dew

    Warren J. Dew Well-Known Member

    I'd be very tempted not to have all dances at all levels. In particular, I might leave the slow foxtrot out of the beginner level. I wonder if thinking like that is what led to bronze foxtrot.

    It takes a lot of time to think about these things, but I can provide a quick cut at viennese waltz:

    left turn
    right turn
    left foot forward closed change
    right foot forward closed change
    left foot backward closed change
    right foot backward closed change
    justification: basic closed position figures

    right turning fleckerl: partial weight change
    left turning fleckerl: left foot in line position
    contra check: checking action, upper body shaping
    natural check: checking action, upper body shaping
    natural side check: checking action, upper body shaping
    right turning backward underarm pivots: single hand hold
    left turning backward underarm pivots: single hand hold
    in and out locks: single hand hold

    shadow right turn: shadow position
    shadow left turn: shadow position
    shadow locks: shadow position

    Some canter timing figures should be added in there, probably at the intermediate level.

    Deciding on a slow waltz syllabus might be the most difficult. There isn't anywhere else to put in those foot closures, so beautiful and difficult when done correctly, but they're so rarely used at an advanced level tha inclusion may not be justified.
  3. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    Iv'e actually given this a lot of thought. Mainly every time I complain about something in a syllabus, whether ours or one of other ones I get exposed to. Start out alright, and then quickly realize that I'm way out of my depth. So I'll leave this one to you guys who have a lot more experience than i do. :)
  4. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Moderator

    Closed change
    Natural turn
    Reverse turn
    I think it's a nice, stable (initially) starting place for beginners. Afterward...well...I've been working mainly on these for the past year and a half and have been starting to wonder "What's the point?" Excepting 1-3 natural, no one does them outside Newcomer.

    Natural spin turn
    Closed impetus
    Hesitation change
    Outside change (closed position exit only)
    Double reverse spin
    Closed telemark
    Turning lock
    Introducing pivots, heel turns, outside partner; I don't think I like the back lock in waltz; threw out the basic weave as well (there's already outside change), but maybe it's because I've never seen it done properly (or at all!)

    Back whisk
    Chasse from PP
    Weave from PP
    Open telemark
    Open impetus
    Outside spin
    Reverse corte
    Progressive chasse to R
    Introducing promenade and wing; included reverse corte and progressive chasse to R as I don't like their bronze exits (closed impetus? meh! 4-6 natural? meh!)

    Disclaimer: this is making somewhat sense to me at about midnight. :razz:
  5. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Two foundational figures ( they are that now )

    F/Trot. Feather and 3.... develops " Swing " and CBM among other aspects .

    and, oddly enough.. Amer. Waltz Box ... developing directional changes .
  6. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    I agree, but it's often very difficult with an inexperienced couple to do these forwards as it requires both that the man have a very mature understanding of what timing means in terms of weight movement and muscle action, and that the lady have something close to sound footwork. Without any outright turning figures to dissipate momentum errors, it's very hard to cleanly repeat these two figures in sequence. Doing them backwards seems in many ways easier - man still has to get the timing and pacing right, but getting it right is more personal, while the lady can work on swinging into the created space.

    Putting in the backwards versions - as the extended reverse wave - is one of my key temptations for what I'd add.
  7. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    It was not implied ( I hope ) that " easy " ,was the point .

    But heres something of interest.... one of my very first teachers ( I was barely in my teens ) gave me this very exercise, down LOD and back again.. over and over, weeks on end

    It was also one of Thieaubaults.. Feather. 3 step repeat ,and repeat and...

    As i was once told.. it doesnt improve by NOT doing it ! ( with the correct guidance )
  8. davedove

    davedove Active Member

    I would think in any syllabus for any dance, the first step is to decide what principle you want to teach and then pick the figure to learn.

    1st principle - basic rhythm
    2nd principle - progression (for those dances that travel)
    3rd principle - changes of direction
    4th principle - turns

    The principle might be rearranged slightly, and sometimes a figure will highlight more than one principle, but that's how I think a dance should be taught, especially for absolute beginners.
  9. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    My concern is not that it is hard, but that without a certain degree of skill it may be too impractical to yet get through to the intended lessons.

    Tripping over your partner and or struggling not to fall ahead of the music are no way to learn how to actually move in foxtrot. I don't think the real mechanism can be learned until you get enough freedom from incessant criticism in those areas to actually get a feel for how the dance works - and I think maybe you get that freedom by not getting caught up in the actions that are most demanding of precision.
  10. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    The point of the " exercise ", thats all it really is at this point in time, is too familiarise ones self with future expectations.

    As to " falling " over someones feet, and having timing problems is implicit with most beginners... one should also take into account, that F/T would not be the first dance one had encountered ( in fact, it would be third on the list ).. were that not the case , then your points would have more validity .
  11. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Now I,m going to put on my Examiners " hat "... which actually would be what I do ask, when testing...

    Q... which dance would you choose, and why ?

    ( in a class situation )
  12. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Quickstep - because it has a little bit of everything, but in approachable difficulty, and can relatively easily absorb the excessive momentum resulting from imperfect control.

    Rise and fall? Check
    Foot closure? Check
    Foot passing? check
    Outside partner? Check
    TH/toe release footwork? Check
    3/8 turn figures? Check
    1/4 turn figures? Check
    Downswing-Upswing energy management? Check
    Relationship of steps to music: several, all clear
  13. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    A good standard " stock " answer.... some say Waltz.... Len says the easiest is Tango.. less to worry about in room negotiation . But Q / Step is the majority choice for beginners in the UK , but probably not for the same reasons as we as Pros advocate . Goes back a long way , when many just " learned " going to public dances .

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