Ballroom Dance > Taking classes at Arthur Murray

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

  1. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Well, there are syllabus steps allowed in Gold that aren't allowed in Silver, for instance you can dance fallaways in Gold Standard but not in Silver. As far as technique goes, the higher you go in the levels the more is expected of you in terms of posture, movement, connection, balance, speed, stretch, and so on. It's not like "Gold dancers are taught technique X but Silver dancers are only given Y." A good teacher should be cultivating the desired technique in you regardless of level.

    It is true that Gold dancers tend to dance better than Silver or Bronze dancers, but that's only because Gold dancers tend to have been dancing longer and so have more experience and training. But that's not an absolute. There are no absolutes. You'll run into people who announce they are Gold dancers but who can't lead a waltz basic to save their lives, and you'll find Bronze dancers who have beautiful timing and clear leads. Honestly, declared level doesn't matter -- what matters socially is how well you lead and follow a variety of partners from all levels, and what matters competitively is that you feel good about what you are doing and what your results are.
  2. PasoDancer

    PasoDancer New Member

    The two studios in our area, by comparison:
    The First One isn't an AM, but they operate like one in many aspects. They go "by the syllabus" (some people find this tedious)- and they make good and certain that you're proficient from all angles before you "progress". But, if it's a group class, they teach to the "slowest student in there", so a lot of people are of the "why go there? You don't learn anything"... but their prices are reasonable, the teachers competent, and it's a friendly atmosphere.

    The Second: "rebels". They skip around after you get the basics down, but when teaching, first they'll teach you the particular step, make sure you're comfortable with it, and know your way in and out of it from several approaches, and THEN they will work on polishing it up. As opposed to the first studio, they make sure you start out with enough that you can actually use at a dance, so that you can enjoy it, get the feel of it, and play around with it. They don't rush, and they have turned out better dancers than the ones who are sticklers for technique. The technique comes along with learning in most instances, and the second studio teachers are quick to help and point out feet turnout, arm angle, etc.

    So there's life "beyond arthur murray", don't despair.
  3. cl5814

    cl5814 New Member

    Well, have a look at for example the website. They list the steps for the different levels and dances. Bronze level has the most number of steps to learn. Silver adds a few more and gold a few more.
    The focus is probably a lot more on technique in silver and gold levels than learning more steps as such; if you just compare the number of steps in each level that you have to master.
    Gold level dancers are probably more refined, technically better dancers. They have been dancing longer (generalization, i know) and are really committed to dancing well, else they would not be gold level dancers. Best would be to attend a comp or watch a comp video (maybe on the internet ?) and see for yourself.
  4. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    In contrast to the designed programs of the chain studios and a few other organizations, a lot of dance training is not going to be based around a specific level. Especially in private lessons, the subject is likely to be a combination of fixing problems and gradually introducing new ideas. New figures may be one part of the new ideas, but in a good program it's usually a minority topic compared to all of the other things that need to be worked on. Even group classes are not usually fixed at a specific syllabus level for their material, because the syllabus is ultimately important only in terms of what's legal in a competition - the process of learning to dance often benefits from more flexibility for the teacher to steer towards the areas where the most work is needed.
  5. LXC

    LXC New Member

    As an amateur couple in an independent studio, there'll be no one holding your hands every step of the way, mandating what you learn, what you have to do to move up, taking notes for you, so on and so forth. You take control of your dancing career and make your own decision on these things. Give it a try; I have a feeling that you may like it better:)
  6. NielsenE

    NielsenE Active Member

    As an example of some of the "concepts" that are introduced in post-bronze levels (taken from International Style)

    Silver: Spirals are introduced, leading based more on compression/expansion as opposed to directional
    (There are no spirals in Bronze (even though the Opening Out Right/Left was moved from Gold to Bronze several years ago and used to use a spiral action, now just uses a slow 3 point turn style action)
    Gold: adds longer patterns with more involved connection types to lead properly -- things that can very easily be taught earlier, but here its required.

    In some ways it also explains why some people who spend years mastering bronze, can leap through silver and gold quickly -- you can learn the silver/gold concepts in bronze, but if you don't the bronze dancing doesn't "suffer" too much.

    In waltz
    Silver: introduces Wing position and some new entrences to PP
    Gold: Introduces steps requiring countersway, fallaway, and lines.
    (I'm generalizing to some degree, but I hope it helps to picture the progression.)

    Its harder to describe the progression for American style as the different syllabi tend to place the concepts at different levels.
  7. Laura

    Laura New Member

    And in some cases are designed/presented more as marketing tools than as teaching tools. I can't tell you how many times over the years I've heard someone report that their (and I hate to generalize, but this is true) franchised studio has declared that they are better to learn at than other studios in the same town because they have a "special syllabus" that the others don't have.

    It's not the steps that make someone a good dancer. It's the 10,000 other things that happen between and around "right foot goes here, left foot goes there."
  8. NielsenE

    NielsenE Active Member

    Yeah I didn't want to get into the marketting aspect of the different syllabi. But to generalize: (and I know basically all syllabi I'm famaliar with break these somewhere or another)

    American Smooth Syllabi
    Bronze: Mainly Closed Position, with underarm turns, normally no same foot (shadow) work, minimal to no lines, minimal to no syncopations/rhythm changes

    Silver: Shadow is almost always introduced, more rhythm changes, normally the rull range of "Standard" holds, lines and concepts (fallaway, wing, etc) Normally minimal to no "complex" leads in open position (ie push/pull connection style leads from a latin background) which means that most shadow/side-by-side work is limited to simple bronze style figures

    Gold: longer lines that "flow/evolve" between lines, more emphasis on flowing through different dance positions in interesting ways, more complicated lead/follows within shadow/alternate holds... much more use of weight

    I'm not familar enough with multiple syllabi for Rhythm to give my impression of their concepts. (I'm reasonably familar with Bronze-Gold for USISTD, DVIDA and one of the franchises for smooth)
  9. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    Big difference between Bronze and Silver American Smooth (DVIDA syllabus anyway): In Bronze, you close your feet (i.e., on 3 in waltz). In Silver, you pass your feet, so you are dancing continuity style.
  10. NielsenE

    NielsenE Active Member

    I find this to actually not be a good way to characterize the levels as almost all the syllabi add some non-closed work in Bronze, whether its a bar or two of continuity, or simple locks and chasses. Its a simple sounding difference and it definitely changes the look of the dance, but its not as absolute as many people start off thinking.
  11. DennisBeach

    DennisBeach New Member

    We also had a positive experience with a large franchise studio. We made it clear we were going to come in every 3 weeks and take two lessons, so we could dance socially. They have been very good about supporting our objectives. Each time we come in, they ask us what we want to work on and do their best to help us. Even though people like us are a small revenue source, they have been very nice to us.

    They have been teaching us silver level for years, even though we officially were in the Bronze level.
  12. HCMikeC

    HCMikeC New Member

    I'm not sure anyone is saying anyone was holding anyone's hands. Those that discuss pressure from am franchise teachers should move elsewhere. I am a proud studnet of AM and have held NO ONE'S hand, have dictated what I want to learn, and have taken control of my own dance career. To each his/her own. Let's knock off the crap going on here and let people decide for themselves. This forum should only be used as a resource, not as an end all be all of almighty dance knowledge. Bottom line: one can have a positive dance experience anywhere, at any level, whether it be social or competitive, as long as he/she understands their dancing goals. Keep on dancing.
  13. Laura

    Laura New Member

    So why is it okay for people who had good experiences to talk about them, while people who have in fact experienced some negatives can't? I didn't make up what happened to me at the franchised studio I went to, and I talked about it here to present yet another data point that people can, as you say, use as a resource. Just because I felt the lesson prices and the competitions were too expensive as compared to what I later got "on the outside", and that the sales people at the studio I was at were too pushy doesn't mean I have any less of a right to express my opinion and report on my experiences than those people, like you, who had great experiences.

    It's nice to hear that so many people are having good experiences at their franchised studios, because at one time the majority of the ex-franchise people who turned up on these various dance boards were not happy. It's good to see that the issues that people used to have are gone from the franchise scene these days.
  14. PasoDancer

    PasoDancer New Member

    What better learning resource than to hear both sides of something like this?
  15. saludas

    saludas New Member

  16. saludas

    saludas New Member

    Why? THIS is a forum about 'taking classes at Arthur Murray'. If sales pressure is part of someone's expereince, THIS is the place to discuss it.

    Without both sides of an issue represented, this forum is not a resource at all. Open and frank discussion is what is needed.

    The saying is 'if you can't stand the heat'...
  17. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    it is understandable that many folk who have had positive franchise experiences might feel a bit is also true that folks are also sharing some honest negative experiences...both are always it isnt the topic or the candor that is the problem...I think its really important, when we think someone has gone over the line, to try to suggest that with let me just request that anyone who is a bit ruffled modulate their tone a bit and calm down...please....thank you
  18. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

  19. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

  20. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member


    no...we don't need the heat

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