Taking classes at Arthur Murray

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Donchik, Apr 25, 2006.

  1. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    and again, this sort of idiocy is not limited to a franchise nor is it the norm anywhere
  2. I agree with you. This not the proper ettiquette they always preach at their social parties and certainly would alienate their customers, especially me. Apparently, these folks take their "no student/teacher fraternizing" rule to the most literal extent. The manager of the AM studio that I go explained to a bunch of us that they are not allowed to socialize with the students outside of the studio. This rule, he said, is to pre-empt any jealousy that may arise amongst the students. They're not even allow to have coffee with a student outside of the studio.

    Chachabelle's wedding story is not an isolated case. As a matter of fact, a couple who go to the same studio as I told me of a couple anecdotes of their AM Vegas D-O-R trip. One of which was when the couple invited a couple of instructors and also asked them to invite the rest of the group to have dinner with them after their heats are over. The instructors never showed up. They didn't even have the courtesy to call and explain.
  3. syi

    syi Member

    In defense to the teacher (i don't know him) or to dance teachers in general, students should not expect dance teachers to dance with them. I'm a software developer and it's like asking me to develop software for you. Or asking a cook to cook for you or marathon runner to run for you. I know that's a bit extreme but you have to remember they do this every day as their occupation as you do in your line of work. I would actually feel guilty to ask my dance teacher to dance at a function with me knowing the fact that she taught lessons all week.

    Would you be just as upset with others that did not dance with you at the party? Or more so with your dance teacher? Unless he outright says "I won't dance with you if you don't pay me" then I can understand that would be a bit rude. But please don't be upset if your dance teacher does not dance with you at a function that you have invite him in. Even if it's 3 minutes.

    My 2 cents...
  4. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I see what you're saying and I think you have a very valid point. To an extent, I agree with you. However...

    After multiple years of a student dropping big bucks for lessons, it can certainly be considered a good investment of the teacher's time to dance with a student in a friendly way. If you consider that 3 non-dancing minutes seemed to have cost this teacher a valuable student, it's foolish on the teacher's part.

    I think it also depends on the dancing function that one is talking about. A studio-hosted social where the teacher is the host? I look at is as part of their job to ensure that people are having a good time (ie, dancing), which means a certain amount of dancing with students. A completely separate social (wedding, dance at another venue, etc.) then they're certainly under no obligation. But, as I said before, it could be very good pr to dance with a student anyway.
  5. I remember a time in the late 90's when there's a lot of demand in the job market for people with computer/technical skills. I remembered interviewing a lot of these who are still in college majoring in computer science. Very intelligent, a lot of them are cocky and lack people skill. Can't work with other people to get a project done. Needless to say we didn't hire these people. But apparently other companies did pick them up. But now after the internet bubble burst, a bunch of these people are displaced and the people who are still holding onto their jobs are either super gifted, very experience and/or knows how to work with other people. The point I'm trying to make here is nobody is indispensible. If you alienate your customer or insult your customer like that one instructor that publicly called his student a fat cow, you'll get dumped. Now, I certainly understand one's need for privacy and all, but when you're at a function where one of your student is present, I think it would be good PR thing, and would be in your best interest to talk or dance with that student. Don't you think?
  6. SuzieQ

    SuzieQ New Member

    It definitely wins my teacher some points when he dances with me when we are outside the studio. Extra if he asks me instead of me asking him! He always dances with me if I ask. As do all the instructors at our studio.
  7. quixotedlm

    quixotedlm New Member

    I have to disagree entirely. The analogy you are using (dance teacher:dancing as software developer:deveoping software for client) is not logical. It should rather be

    i. dance teacher:teaching dance to software developer:developing software
    ii.dance teacher:social dancing to software developer:general conversational insights on software

    Both social dancing and having chitchat about software, the industry etc are social activities merely reflecting an affable and outgoing personality and a nice-guy attitude. Both activities, when indulged in with a client, have the potential to benefit the client for free. (In dancing, the student learns by experience, in software, the client gets free consultation on small matters). Yet, they are both considered good social practices, and rightfully so, because it promotes good relationships, and gives the 'business' side of things a human touch.
  8. mamboqueen

    mamboqueen Well-Known Member

    Well, here's my 2 cents. I wouldn't really want to do my job on my off time and if I was expected to do my job (which in my case, isn't really conducive to being done in a social enviornment, but let's pretend) at a social event, I probably wouldn't go. I understand that it is good PR for a teacher to show his/her stuff...maybe pick up a few more students in the process, but really, they're there to enjoy themselves like anyone else. Maybe dancing with me is not my teacher's idea of "fun" in the off time.

    I wouldn't be miffed if my teacher didn't dance with me at a social function, but I'd be pleased if he did. I pay him to dance with me in class and at competitions; anything else is gravy.
  9. Al Gisnered

    Al Gisnered Member

    Sorry, but yours is actually the false analogy. (syi posited a similie, you constructed an analogy.) Your construction is not paralell. The proper construction should be:

    i. dance teacher : teaching dance = software developer : writing software
    ii.dance teacher : general converstional insights on dancing = software developer : general conversational insights on software

    or

    ii. dance teacher : "social" dancing = software developer : "social" writing software.

    AFAIK there is no "social" writing, so the rest of your rationalization, while it may be something that you believe, doesn't support the analogy when properly constructed.
  10. Gypsy Wishing

    Gypsy Wishing New Member

    I think studios provide a service and need to get paid.
    I`m now with an indepently owned studio, that I`m happy with because I make my deal with the owner. He`s not trapped in a bunch of managment and franchise policy that is impossible to change.
  11. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl New Member

    I see it more as a general etiquette question.

    Was the instructor dancing socially at the wedding? Some competitive dancers don't social dance. If he wasn't dancing at all, then it was within his rights not to dance with the student, as long as he politely explained that he wasn't dancing at that event.

    Was he dancing only with his SO or partner? In that case, OK not to dance with student, with explanation.

    But if he was dancing generally with various people, it was rude of him, as a guest at the wedding, to refuse to dance with one particular person whom he knew, regardless of the relationship.
  12. chachabelle

    chachabelle New Member

    Taking Lessons at Arthur Murray

    To further explain the social setting: The Bride was a student of my pro's girlfriend (also an instructor at the studio). She choreographed their routine. The Bride's parents are long-time students at the studio - - ie. many lessons, comps, etc. (Incidentally, my pro's girlfriend was his student until they got caught dating, then suddenly she became a teacher.) Also in attendance was the studio owner and his girlfriend (also his former student until they were discovered dating - - but he "informed" the National AM office of the situation and they said it was "okay" - - he just couldn't teach her anymore. So now he no longer teaches - just "counsels (sells) and travels to Judge comps). So, my teacher danced with the Bride, the Bride's mother, the owner's girlfriend, but not me. I did dance with the owner and my pro's girlfriend (cha cha).

    Being in business for myself (catering) I have many, many clients that have not spent $100,000 with me. However, I wouldn't hesitate to "cook" something for my good clients. It takes a hell of a lot longer to prepare a meal than it does to dance a 3 min. dance. But maybe that's why I've had a successful business for 20+ years. If my pro treats all his $100,000 students like that I wonder where he will be in 20 years. My pro's mother has always had me prepare birthday cakes for him and his brother for the past 3 years and I didn't charge her a cent. Angry? Yes. Hurt? Even more.
  13. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I had a feeling there was a back story. Thanks for sharing it. :cool: I can see how hurtful an experience that could be. Not to mention dumb (on your ex-teacher's part) and totally unnecessary. :(
  14. chachabelle

    chachabelle New Member

    Lessons at Arthur Murray

    Thank you Pygmalion for understanding. I really don't want to be perceived as a "whiner" or "complainer". I've always been pretty low-key and not very assertive. It took a lot for me to spill my guts over this situation.
  15. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I can relate. I've been in a similar, but slightly less expensive, situation, myself. Which means that my ex-teacher showed his true colors before I got to $100 grand. Nothing to do with me. He was just unhappy with his work situation and decided to quit, leaving his "friends" aka students in the lurch without so much as a goodbye. I wish that was an exaggeration, but it's not.

    Another teacher was brought in to share the spotlight he used to enjoy. So he sold us all lessons the day after the Christmas showcase and disappeared before we returned to class on January 2. It was ugly for a lot of people -- especially the older lady (a widow) who saw him as a well-loved son. I wanted to kill him on her behalf. And on my behalf? Well. I consider it a lesson learned. But I have to say that it's a good thing the non-fraternization policy made it impossible for me to know where he lived. lol!

    But yeah. Unfortunately, I've seen the kinds of situations you're talking about. It's not pretty, IMO. :(
  16. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    very sad ...really very very sad...makes me angry
  17. soccerdancer

    soccerdancer New Member

    I am fairly new to the whole AM scene. I think the world of my teacher and wil be etenally graeful for what she has taught me and how I am much more poised and confident than I ever was.. Unfortunately, she and other employees of the studio are scared to death of getting fired for violating their non-fraternization policies for something as simple as having a dance at a night club at 10:03 pm (they are forbidden from dancing with students after 10pm, even in these "off site" functions) or sharing a cup of coffee to discuss anything...even dance. They claim this is to prevent "favoritism." In my opinion, they treat their teachers like little children because they can get away with doing so, My teacher has been at this for two years and has gone above and beyond the norm to make herself a better teacher and dancer. Unfortunately, AM seems to get their hooks into these 20-something folks and takes away any chance at having any sort of normal social life outside of AM studios and competitions, I guess in a crappy job market, teachers are reluctant to walk away to another independent studio, but I can see why they may be tempted to do so. They are under a great deal of pressure to get students to pay extra for "coaching" ($175/hr in addition to the normal cost of the lesson) and for superfluous extras such as AM "team": jackets at $95 each, etc, etc.

    All being said, I specialize in Country & Western dancing and did very will in my first DanceORama, but from what I have read, am a bit skeptical now about judges grade "inflation." The gal they set me up for with privates loves C&W and has made me a very accomplished social dancer as well. I often get asked to dance by ladies when I go out to my favorite watering hole, so I have no complaints at all about her and what I have learned. I am concerned, however, that I may be getting held back from going to a much higher level, not by my teacher, but by the AM "system" in which they emphasize things such as timing changes on a two step (you never see anyone do that at a C&W dance hall) instead of learning weaves and more complicated underarm turns that are not only fun, but impress the ladies as well. Fortunately, I have persuaded my teacher to help me on this on at least one thing, which I did use in DanceORama, but only in the "open" category. I cannot use anything not in the AM syllabus in closed category in their system.

    The fact that an AM instructor couldn't dance at a non-AM event such as a wedding is not unusual because he/she could be fired for this. Now, whether or not these clauses are actually enforceable under various state employment laws is another story.
  18. Wolfgang

    Wolfgang Member

    My experiences at AM:
    The overwhelming majority of regulars are baby-boomer age or above, my guess is that most of the younger crowd cannot afford their 'contracts'.
    Wouldn't surprise me if some people simply keeled over from sticker shock in their 'office' when they bring out The Book.......
    I think I may have gotten lucky insofar as the teacher they assigned to me originally was - and remains to this day - the by far best dance teacher I've ever come across.
    Extremely talented not only as a dancer but also as a teacher (!!) - I could learn more from her in 45 minutes than from all other dance teachers I've met put together in 6 months - very enthusiastic - she would just keep throwing moves at me until my mind was basically fried - and, as an extra bonus, quite the hottie.
    I also learned a lot from the owner of the studio, who wasn't around very much and only taught lessons in special cases, very knowledgeable especially about the history and background of all the different dances.
    On the flip side, signing a contract with AM seemed a little like being held prisoner in Dracula's castle, the 'brides' being very alluring, but, at the end of the day, basically just bloodsucking fiends.
    They had another teacher, who I had occasionally when my regular teacher wasn't available, who was such a stickler for form that she would just stop dead in her tracks when anything was slightly off.
    Made for some very jerky, frustrating, stop-and-go type lessons.
    Think 405 southbound on a Friday afternoon.
    Another one of their teachers would have rather cut off his own tongue with kids' scissors than teach anyone anything he wasn't dead certain they had paid for 5 times over.
    I recently saw another one of their teachers at a local venue, looked like he was out with his partner/girlfriend and what may have been an AM customer couple, I think he's a Salsa 'specialist' and his Country leading skills seemed....well, not very dance teacher-like.......
    Looked more like just some guy on his first Country outing.
    A couple of other teachers they had also didn't seem to me to be nearly good enough to warrant spending what averages out to $ 130-some-odd per 45 minute session.
  19. Aura

    Aura Active Member

    My first pro suddenly left without saying good-bye. It hurt like heck, but I found out later that he needed to leave dancing for a better-paying job to take care of his young family. Talking to his wife, who's still at the studio, I've learned that he really, really misses dancing. But, I ache for the people that just suddenly get left in the lurch by their pros, whether its over a no fraternization policy, or suddenly leaving without saying good-bye.
  20. Elaina

    Elaina New Member

    I also am a student at AM and fairly new to the AM scene. I live in the Washington DC metro area and there are a lot of dance studios. With my work schedule, I wanted something close to home and I wanted opportunities to expand my dancing; this is why I chose AM, the studio is close to me and is open late (I commute 45 minutes each way to work and I don't get home until 6:00PM), and they teach latin dancing. I wanted to improve my salsa dancing and I didn't want to have to rely on friends to go out dancing with me.

    I really like my teacher. He's a great dancer, great teacher, friendly, and funny. He understands my sarcastic sense of humor.

    Now, I will say, I don't necessarily agree with the fact that you have to other dances. I didn't want to learn any of the smooth dances, but I added waltz and foxtrot to my curriculum. I don't regret it because now I'm a more diverse dancer, but I'd prefer to focus on the latin dances first, which we do mostly. I think about the students who only want to learn one or two dances, but I guess if they are focused on doing that, they can go elsewhere.

    After reading other posts about AM, it definitely opened my eyes. Yes, it is expensive. And dancing is a business, I realize that. I haven't felt any pressure to do anything that I don't want to do, and I can stop taking lessons at any time and have the money that I have already paid refunded. I've decided that once if this becomes stressful, I will look elsewhere; I have enough stress in my life already and dancing is a stress relief for me. But for now I feel like I'm getting what I'm paying for.

    I'm sad for some of the negative experiences with AM, so far, my experience has been positive. I have noticed that my instructor has tried to get me to come in for more private lessons since I've signed up for Freestyles, I declined because I don't have the time, and it's not in my budget. If it continues, I will speak up, but so far, no pressure. I signed up for Freestyles because I wanted to try it out, it was a personal goal, no pressure from my instructor.

    I'm also thankful to have met others with the same interests. Some of the other students started a dancing group and we go out dancing together; I love this. The AM studio that I attend has a wide age range, we have a few teens, I'm in my late 20s, and up to the 60s. I'd say the average age is 35-40. Everyone is nice so I don't care about age at all. I never feel like an outsider.

    Thank you all for your comments! I am definitely more informed. I'm new to the dancing community and I appreciate everyone's wisdom.

    Any recommendations for awesome dance studios in the Baltimore/DC Metro area are welcomed! I'm especially interested in latin dances.

    Cheers!

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