Swing Discussion Boards > Ceroc Teaching

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Dancelf, Mar 9, 2009.

  1. jophil28

    jophil28 New Member

    The problem is this - Ceroc (MJ) dancer students have no concept or understanding of "time value".
    If you watch a Ceroc dancer's lower body, and in particular his feet you will see just a repetitive, plodding, heel led pattern QQQQ...or if the DJ plays a smooth song, their feet step SSSS..
    They are not taught foot placement.. Toe leads are unknown (especially by their 'teachers') forward weight distibution is not understood, and don't get me started about their ignorance of flex or straight legs.

    I teach B/R to 4th and 5th graders, and frankly most of those kids are much easier to teach and more talented than MJ folk.
  2. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Blimey, I take my eye off the ball for 5 minutes... :D

    Ceroc teaching definitely does not focus on lead and follow - no, not even in Scotland. Ceroc teaching, by and large, focusses on teaching moves, based on the Big Book of Ceroc Moves.


    No. Having done quite a few of these classes, I can say that with some authority. The salsa / AT business model is totally different to the Ceroc one.

    The only classes that I've ever attended which are similar in style to Ceroc are the dancematrix ones in North London.
  3. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    And for balance:
    No offence, but it sounds like you don't really know much about the Ceroc scene.

    And I don't like the tendency of some people - especially those with little experience of it - to belittle Ceroc dancing. It's perfectly possible to dance well in Ceroc, and the freedom the form has allows dancers with discipline to do things that you can't in other dances.

    Exaggeration, much?

    Bad floorcraft is everywhere. Believe me on this one.

    Well with that attitude... Surely you should be grateful that you're getting a steady stream of business? That you have students who want to learn to dance? Am I missing something here?

    Frankly, neither do salsa or AT dancers. Because it's not important to their dance style.
  4. spot

    spot New Member

    Even I've tried that.

    But that's the same thing I do with beginners. I'm just wondering if there's a Ceroc block I need to get round (rather than bludgeon into nothing). They have experience (including co-ordination and the concept of following and leading) so telling them to relearn everything from basics is like a slap in the face.

    I'm afraid I'm losing the teacher pupils.
  5. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Yeah, you know that's rubbish, don't you? I mean, you can dance AT to any kind of music. In theory.

    In practice, "pure" MJ is best done to a tempo of c. 120 - 140 bpm.

    Did you get a free ticket? :p

    Really? You sure about that? Who?

    Marc and Rachel are lovely, but they're not top class AT teachers (yet). I know this for a fact - guess who got them started? :D
  6. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    You're kidding, right?

    With the exception of pensioner-tea-dances, no-one in the UK dances foxtrot. I doubt if there's a single foxtrot dancing night in London.

    Whereas there are c.100,000 people in the UK dancing MJ on a regular basis.

    Note: I place no value judgement on this fact, but it is a fact.

    Good question. Very good in fact.

    The answer is "It's difficult".

    The best quick definition I can provide is that it's a lead-and-follow dance, usually to modern pop music.

    In practice, you know it when you see it.

    Yes. I'd make that estimate "95-98%" personally though.
  7. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    From what I recally about teaching salsa a few years back, it's the music. Ceroc music is typically a constant beat, they're used to making one step on each beat, whether it's led or not.

    So it's typically difficult to get them to do the pause. Focus on that part of it, I'd suggest.

    Anther ceroc -> salsa issue I found was with the lead into a (natural) turn - the salsa pre-lead is typically done earlier than the Ceroc equivalent, so they need to Also, when coming out from that turn, emphasize the need to step back on the same foot as the direction you're turning in (their left)

    Cor, this brings back memories. :)

    Oh, and the "auto-step" thing is even more of a pain when trying to teach them AT, I can tell you that now...
  8. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    I have to agree with you Jophil - most Ceroc folk have no idea about timing, balance and foot placement.

    I've watched them struggle with the beat pattern of WCS and Lindy - but that's not what MJ is about, its a very popular social activity that encourages the better dancers to move on into something else.

    Everyone is pretty well agreed that Ceroc is a sort of ersatz or substitute dance form, the question is does it bring lots of people into dance who would otherwise not be there - I say it does.
  9. jophil28

    jophil28 New Member

    How ? DO not waste time teaching the unteachable.
  10. jophil28

    jophil28 New Member

    "Does it bring people into dance who would otherwise not be there...?"

    Well, I guess that is brings them into the Ceroc community. It is a stretch to say they they are dancing.
    Frankly, Ceroc dancers are a flatout nuisance when they mix with trained dancers.
    Most of then look like two windmills trying to fornicate in in a high wind.
  11. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Yeah, I think we all understand your point of view by now :rolleyes:.

    You're wrong.

    MJ dancers are not unteachable. I am an MJ dancer myself.
  12. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    The music Ceroc is danced varies quite considerablly as you go round the country. I got a fascinating insight into the psychology of an MJ DJ when described how he played the 'easy to dance to slow stuff' like Alynnah Miles 'Black Velvet' early in the evening and 'difficult' techo stuff later on.

    Clearly the guy was unable to hear anything in a song other than the beat. . . .his definition 'difficult' or 'easy' was defined by the speed of then beat - concepts like melody, syncopation, and phrasing were clearly beyond him

    The further south you go, generally the worse the music.

    In WCS I know one teacher who has the class chant the timing as they dance 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc. It's pretty bizarre dancing while your partner is mouthing out the numbers like a goldfish.
  13. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Now THATS bizarre !! :raisebro: :confused: ( also the fact that you called them a "teacher " )
  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    So, it's been asked before, and I think not realy answered, because maybe there isn't one answer - Is there a Ceroc Teaching Method. Or do the instructors just teach however they want?
    Skippy Blair and the GSDTA will teach you to teach West Coast Swing. Blair herself took courses in Long Beach in the early 50s as part of the Arthur Murray chain.
    So, there are methods for teaching dances. In Skippy's example, she's had 50 years of experience to see what works and what doesn't, and has an organized curriculum.
    (That's just about the time tangotime was around there, too, if I remember right.)

    So, let's try again...
    Is there a Ceroc Teaching Method? Or do the instructors just teach however they want?

    P.S. I'm now trying to learn alternate rhythms for my West Coast: single time, double time, triple time. And I'm counting again because it's really easy to mess up. You can thank Lauré Haile for this one. She wrote that you should be able to do patterns with any of the 3 rhythms.
  15. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    There's a slight confusion, because (technically) "Ceroc" is the name of an organisation more than the name of a dance. Technically, the dance is "Modern Jive". It's a "Xerox / photocopier" thing.

    But Ceroc do indeed have a well-structured teaching method. I don't know the exact details, as I'm not a Ceroc teacher, but there are several quite intensive courses you need to pass before you can become a Ceroc teacher. All teachers in Ceroc belong to the "CTA" (Ceroc Teachers' Association) - I think that's a requirement.

    But from a punter's point of view, the teacher teaches a 35-40 minute beginner class, then there's a brief 15-minute freestyle, then there's another 35-40 minute intermediate class, then there's another 90+ mins of freestyle dancing. Each class is a routine, typically containing 3-4 moves.

    How it happens is this:
    - You all line up in the hall, in several rows of couples (often 50-100 people per class)
    - Spare people (almost always women) line up at the side, or sometimes slot in between the couples.
    - Dancers change couples frequently - every couple of minutes, usually - at the direction of the teacher, moving on to ensure no dancer stays out for long.
    - The teacher (plus demo) is on a stage at the front, with a mike
    - The teacher has a strict script to follow for the beginner class, to describe the beginner moves - the moves for that week are nationally-determined. The teacher has more leeway to select moves for the intermediate class.
    - Some teachers add technique tips during the class, but the emphasis is on the moves.
    - There are "taxi" dancers to help out beginners, during the class, and who dance socially with beginners during the freestyle.

    The stuff that is good (that other dances can learn from Ceroc) is things like:
    - A welcoming atmosphere, creating a friendly social scene
    - Good class management (e.g. frequent rotation)
    - Consistency and standards
    - Taxi dancers

    It took me ages before I could stop mentally counting for salsa - literally over a year. But then, I'm a slow learner.
  16. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    I think the best way to think of it as there being a Ceroc 'Teaching Environment'.

    I disagree completely with Dave Bailey about Lead and Follow not being taught, learning to control your partner is intrinsic to Ceroc, where your partner might have about 10 minutes experience of partner dance before you dance with them.

    There are prescribed sets of patterns taught and the teachers them them in step wise repition. It much the same way drill is taught in the Army (without the shouting) a critical feature of the teaching is the followup where the beginner dancers a danced through the patterns, whether they understand them or not.

    At any particular stage the class will have total beginners and very advanced dancers and the emphasis is on the advanced dancers driving the beginners through the patterns till they get it.

    It very quickly gives a beginner the idea of the relationship between lead and follow.

    As a lead I might be faced with a follow who wants to back lead, is off time and who is going to fall over if I try to spin her at any speed. Somehow I've got to control her and maintain some kind of connection to the music.

    It's more like breaking a wild horse than dancing per se.

    I wonder that people think doing stuff in time to music is easy. . . most people (about 5 out of 6) have to be drilled relentlessly to pick up a beat pattern - a few, mostly musicians - require no training at all.

    My pet gripe is the inability of most teachers to identify the folk who can feel a rhythm. They need to be taught differently from the mass who need drilled and drilling them actually makes there dancing worse.

    Quite early on in my WCS experience I asked the question 'Why do you do a triple step, surely you can do anything to fill up the two beat anchor'. The answer was 'If you know to ask that question you understand the rhythm and don't need to concentrate on the triple steps'
  17. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Lead-and-follow is not the focus of the class. It's described - to a point - but a Ceroc class teaches moves, not technique.

    Obviously, it's a partner dance, to do it well you need to know about lead-and-follow. But compared to many other dance styles, lead-and-follow is just not taught much in Ceroc.

    For example, no Ceroc class will describe connection, pre-leading, body leading, weight transfer, etc etc. Whereas most - for example - AT classes would.

    Let's be clear - the overall standard of partner dancing in Modern Jive is low compared to many other dances.

    On the other hand, I've done lots of salsa classes and a few ballroom classes, and none of those have talked much about lead-and-follow either.
  18. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    Yes I agree - lead and follow is not formally taught - but it is intrinsic to the nature of Ceroc that you understand it very well.

    I mean, you can end up with the dance partner from hell both as a leader and follower in Ceroc.

    I've been a beginner alongside Ceroc dancers in a wide variety of dances, Swing, Ballroom, AT and the immediate reaction to me and other Ceroc dancers is 'where did you learn to lead like that?'
  19. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    david, I dont know from whom you are taking ( or where ) your B/r or salsa classes. Its one of the first things ANY trained teacher should discuss ( on a continuing basis )
  20. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    tt, you are of course correct. But, I stopped taking WCS lessons because I was just learning more and more moves which would fall apart whenever I would try to lead them with a partner who hadn't had the same lesson.
    I'm finding that most books on social dance haven't in the past dealt much with the topic. (Including Lauré, SKippy, etc) What I have found is rather vague.
    I wonder if traditionally it has been ignored because teachers feel that it's one element too many for the average student to get. Sort of like dancing in time to the music. HA!
    And, again, I feel both of those things are very important. (Skippy and Lauré both spend a lot of time on the music.)

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