Taking classes at Arthur Murray

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

  1. Laura

    Laura New Member

    I danced at a franchised studio that boasted some pretty top-notch talent, who went on to become the top two pro couples in their field in the US NDCA championships.

    However, as great as the teachers/teaching were, the money was not great at all. When my then-teacher left to go teach at Ballroom on Fifth, he was able to drop his prices by $15/lesson but still take home more pay. (Unfortunately I quit dancing and moved several time zones away, and it was 3 1/2 years before I thought about trying to dance again.)

    Also, competitions through the franchise were *expensive*. However, I found ways to work around that. Still, I was paying more for the same number of heats then than I ever did afterwards when I changed to dancing with an independent teacher (who happens to also have some nice titles to his credit) at an independent studio and going pretty much independently to NDCA competitions.

    And then there were the sales tactics. I hated that they would pull me into the manager's office to get me to re-up for more lessons. One time I let it slip that I had just gotten a bonus at work, and it took them about 1 1/4 seconds for them to start sweet talking me into spending it on a block of 60 lessons. I would have bought more lessons anyway, so I thought it was really tacky of them to always be used-car-salesmaning their way into my wallet.

    Oh, and then there was what I call "social promotion" of students. Like, I danced Bronze for about a year, and then my teacher left. So I was given another teacher, fresh in from Russia (I think it might have even been someone who went on to win a US Rising Star pro title). The manager told me that I was ready for more challenges and so my new teacher would start teaching me Gold Standard. Yeah right. I was not ready for that. I mean, I didn't know any better so I went along with it, but after I left and quit dancing for a while and then came back, I started over again at Bronze and as I was learning from the new teacher I realized that I had a huge amount of work to do before I would really be ready for Gold. Several years of work, in fact. (I eventualy got there, and beyond, in both Pro/Am and Amateur, so there is a happy ending to this story.)

    It would take a lot for me to go near a franchise again. But then I have no need to, as I've been hooked into the local independent grapevine and so can find what I want, where I want, and don't feel like I'm being gouged on the price.
  2. Twilight_Elena

    Twilight_Elena Well-Known Member

    My franchise has what we call a "Student's Notebook". It's a booklet that has all the syllabus steps written down (we check a box when we are done learning a step as a step), as well as every event/choreography you have taken part in. And there's also the part where the teacher writes down what was done in this lesson (like, "Introduced bota fogos, revised lockstep, worked on rumba foot technique etc.). It's a very handy mechanism, because it means that a teacher with 50 students will see the notebook and remember what was done last lesson and the lesson before that.
    I don't think it's unbelievable. I think it's very good and helps everyone. Oh, and we both sign above the lesson description so that our lesson is checked off as being done.

    T_E
  3. JANATHOME

    JANATHOME Well-Known Member

    Franchised studios has a purpose and something to offer. When we first began to dance with started with AM... Being somewhat apprehensive about the whole enviornment AM was the best place for us. What they gave us was not all that great dance instruction but they had the ability to immediatly make us feel comfortable and expereince the joy of dance.

    Our first comp was also with AM, again a good place to start. Thier comps like thier studios are much more social, and bring out the fun in a comp. There did come a point that we desired more techinical instruction and left. And when we left we actaully ended up paying less for more advanced instruction. Still I think had we not started at AM, we may have not continued to move forward. Back then, the franchise expereince worked for us. It always fustrates me when the franchise studios gets a "bashing"
  4. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I hope that isnt your experience of this thread b/c as you noted many of us appreciate the pros and cons and variances therein....
  5. Laura

    Laura New Member

    50 students? Wow. I've never had a teacher with that many private students, even back at that franchise I mentioned!
  6. saludas

    saludas New Member

    Let's see, that's 10 hours a day (no breaks) 5 days a week? And that assumes only 1 hour per student. Wow, talk about an assembly line. Guess the teacher does not need time for his own lessons or improvement, if he/she's in the studio all that time...
  7. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    not neccessarily....not every student comes in once a week.....I have seen couples who do it as a twice a month half hour date sort of thing...and then its especially important to try to remember via something like a notebook, what the heck they were working on
  8. saludas

    saludas New Member

    I guess not remembering what they just paid $100+ for is the reason that the teacher keeps records, but it certainly should be a big wakeup call to the student. When they leave the lesson, is their mind on what they just worked on or what they are having for dinner???
  9. JohnLL

    JohnLL New Member

    As already mentioned above, every student does not come in every week. Many students only come in every other week or even once a month. In addition lessons are not an hour long anymore at most studios including AM. 45 minutes is pretty much the norm/standard now as I understand it. This means that 10 lessons could be taught in 7.5 hours at a stretch which would be a normal workday or slightly less where I come from. As to whether anyone would actually teach 10 lessons in one day, I guess it could happen but realistically it doesn't work out that way very often and usually only when an instructor is out sick or on vacation.
    As to the references to teacher's improvements and training time, I can only say that at my studio we have "dance meeting" twice a week that everyone works together at, we have 2 - 3 outside coaches who come to our studio on a monthly basis or as time permits, and the instructors do actually have time to work on their own dancing as well (usually early in the day when the studio is quiet). Now I know that every studio is different but I did just want to let you know how mine is run since you seem inclined to paint all franchised studios with the same brush.
  10. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    definately for many, it is their dinner...their lesson is a fun part of what they do as a couple but not part of anything more....and as you and I well know...that may be a pretty sane objective compared to some of us...lol:rolleyes: ...(dance for fun?????ME??? nevvvvvverrrrr)
  11. JohnLL

    JohnLL New Member

    Well said fascination. :) One of the greatest things about dance is that there is something for everybody. I have seen students come in who just want to get away from a stressful job and cannot be bothered to take notes and I have seen students come in who keep more notes than I do. :) Not everybody is taking lessons to become the next Jean-Marc and/or France. Many people simply want to be able to go out on a Saturday night to a local dance or go to a wedding and get around the floor without tripping and falling. For many of them the studio is more than a place to simply take lessons. It is a place to socialize with fellow students and dance together with each other or plan weekend excursions.
  12. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Not saying it's right, but that's the way it is at a lot of studios... My instructor has about 40 students. Before she hurt her back, she was doing about 17-18 hours of lessons per week, so obviously not all students are taking lessons every week. Of course, that time didn't include the time that she spent teaching groups, dancing on Friday night, doing demonstrations around town, training the junior instructors, getting training herself, or running the business.
  13. Donchik

    Donchik New Member

    How do you go from level to level outside of Arthur Murray? In AM it's pretty much based on the amount of classes. They have a level check but it's just a formality. Once you complete your 80 classes in Bronze I, you are automatically in Bronze II.

    How does it work outside of AM? how do you become Silver or Gold level? Are there certain steps you need to know? Have a routine? Have to pass certain certification? test? etc. Is there a standardized way?
  14. Laura

    Laura New Member

    You simply learn at your own pace. When you've learned what's in the Bronze syllabus and are solid enough in your knowledge and technique and ready to move on, you just move on. It's a decision that you and your instructor make together. At some point one or the other of you will bring up the subject that it's time to try the next level, and you will. Some people take longer than others. It's all very personalized and individualized.

    If you're also competing, then your competition results may also come into play. Sometimes you are forced to move up because you've earned a certain number of points under certain conditions in sanctioned competitions, but truthfully the point system in the US is so generous that most people never earn the points. Rather, they just get kind of bored being at their current level and so decided to take on a greater challenge and move up.
  15. Donchik

    Donchik New Member

    I don't understand. So it's up to you what you want to call yourself? You can call yourself Silver dancer or Gold if you want to? How does the competition work then? Who competes with who?
  16. cl5814

    cl5814 New Member


    I guess you can call yourself whatever you want. The proof is in the pudding though, your dancing will show your level (all things being equal).
    One thing that became clear to me in this thread is that in the independent world, you have limited number of levels (bronze,silver,gold, prechamp and champ - for illustration we limit it to that); whereas in franchise world, you have lots of levels. (not saying this is good or bad, just an observation).

    I am still learning bronze level and then if i wanted to compete would compete in Bronze, till either i feel like i have mastered bronze or i have pointed out of bronze (forced to move to silver).

    You can compete Am/Am or Pro/Am. Generally, if you have an Am partner, you compete Am/Am or if you don't have partner, you compete Pro/Am. You would still compete at more or less your "learning" level.

    Feel free to correct me.......this is my understanding, but i am not an active competitor.
  17. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    and some independents, b/c they used to work for AM and b/c its lucrative, operate just like AM...others pretty much base it on how rapidly you are progressing...and a bunch of other stuff
  18. Donchik

    Donchik New Member

    How do I tell the difference between Gold and Silver dancer for example? Difference between Bronze and Gold is pretty obvious, but what does Gold dancer do that Silver dancer doesn't? Let's say in tango or rumba?
  19. cl5814

    cl5814 New Member

    Say, you are a smart kid and have learned the bronze syllabus in 40 lessons. In the franchise world, you would probably stick around for another 40 lessons to complete the bronze syllabus. In the independent world, you would move on to silver level. (very loose illustration, but you get the point ?) Because you have fewer levels in independent world, you would probably spend more time between levels. For bronze, you would have to master the bronze 1, bronze 2, bronze 3, bronze 4 (or to wherever) in franchised world equivalent before you would be finished with bronze syllabus in independent world.
    Now, what if you haven't accomplished the bronze syllabus in 80 lessons ? how would it work in franchise world ? More lessons at bronze level or are you forced to move to next higher level, be that called silver or whatever ? (in independent world, the student dictates the lessons, if you are a social dancer, you would probably not care about minute detail of technique and would rather move onto next level, but competitive students would probably care about minute detail of technique and spend "more" time in level.

    Point is, you move on based on your practice time outside of lesson time and your dance background.

    The actual steps are probably not much different.......you have probably danced with an independent student and had no problem more or less coping (if student was at more or less your level or higher).

    You could learn a routine. In fact, it is great. Just mention it to your independent teacher if you are not already doing it.

    Medal test. Yes, look into Us Terpsichore. They administer the medal test.

    All examples used are for illustrative purposes only. Not based on real world.
  20. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Well, you and your teacher. If your teacher doesn't think you're ready to move on, they probably won't let you -- but the two of you can talk about what kind of goals you need to accomplish in order to be ready.
    Sure, why not? In the context of social dancing, it doesn't matter what you call yourself, it matters how good a time you have at social dances and how pleasing it is to dance with other people. In the context of competition, it doesn't matter what you call yourself, it matters how you dance and what your results are and how you feel about it.
    You either dance with another amateur partner or you dance with your teacher. You enter whatever level that you, your partner, and your teacher think is appropriate. If you do really badly, you might drop down a level (and change your routines accordingly so as to stay with the syllabus). If you do really well, you might move up, and learn new moves from the next level. You will be competing against other people who are doing the same sort of thing.

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