General Dance Discussion > Dance Instruction -- Breadth vs. Depth

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by pygmalion, Oct 2, 2003.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    In reading through these forums, it's starting to occur to me that I'm pretty weird. Do not laugh. I'm pretty weird in the sense that, other than dancersdreamland, it looks like everybody else on this forum has taken a pretty specific approach to dance.

    People specialize in swing, or C&W, or salsa, or ballroom, or a couple of these categories at most.

    I, on the other hand, have decided to take a come-one, come-all approach and do every dance I possibly can. Right now, I can do about twenty-something dances, and I'm starting lessons in a couple more as we speak.

    What's up with that? Which approach did you take? Breadth (lots of dances) or depth (one or two dances or genres), and why? What are the pros and cons?
  2. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    I did the same thing, Pygmalion!
    I went through a period where I learned everything: country, cajun, salsa, American style, International style, Argentine Tango, Lindy Hop, Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Hip Hop, Breakdancing. I think it's great to get exposure to different forms of dance. I am definitely NOT an expert on all of the above, but I feel like I have a well-rounded knowledge. It's a good approach.

    Of course, it almost goes without saying, that it is also good to really spend some time learning one or two styles to a high level of excellence.
  3. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    While this is an interesting question, I think there's a huge problem with throwing "ballroom" in as a specialization. In the competitive divisions there are 5 Latin dances, 5 Ballroom dances, 5 Rhythm dances, and 4 Smooth well as several more peripheral ones. I would think that someone who had honestly worked on all of these would be a generalist...albeit maybe all within one genre. As an example, take a Paso Doble, a Bolero, and a Quickstep...very different dances with very different styles and techniques (aside, of course, from what makes good basic technique in the first place).
  4. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Good point about ballroom, SD. It does encompass many, many dances, especially if you consider the "minor" dances as well. I have only studied about a dozen ballroom dances, so far (although, needless to say, some more are slated for the future :lol: ) I suppose you could in all fairness call yourself a generalist if you learn all twenty-plus ballroom dances.

    What do you think about the pros and cons of each approach?
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Okay, so since only DM is brave enough to answer this one, I'll take a stab at answering my own question. Then, for sure, somebody will shoot me down! :lol:

    I chose to take a breadth approach because (1) I didn't know a darn thing about dancing, except that I wanted to do it. (2) Also, since my primary goal is social dancing, it only seems reasonable to learn as many dances as possible, so that when I go dancing, I can actually dance a lot. (3) I get jealous whenever I see somebody else doing a dance I can't, especially if they do it well. (4) If one day I decide to specialize, I want to be able to make an informed decision about what I like versus what I don't.
  6. SwinginBoo

    SwinginBoo New Member

    I think those are all solid reasons for your come-one come-all approach Jenn. I can definitely understand that. I sort of have that approach as well. :D

    Right now I would say the dances that I have most knowledge in are Lindy and ECS. Next would come WCS. And the others that I have an equal amount for are waltz, cha cha, merangue, hustle, salsa, tango, and night club two-step.

    Someday I think I'd like to learn more of the latter dances. But for now I am satisfied with being able to at least dance when various songs come on. So far I'm in love with Lindy. :roll:
  7. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    What a shocker! I never would have guessed that! :lol:

    The down side to taking on a bunch of dances at once is that it does take a lot longer to advance. If you're learning one or two dances at a time, you can get very good, very quickly. At least, that's my impression. True?
  8. SwinginBoo

    SwinginBoo New Member

    That is def. true. I've managed to learn as much as most people learn in 3 years in one. I've also had a boyfriend who has taught me everything. He's been dancing for 8 years and has taken lessons with many professional dancers, including Frankie Manning.

    So yes, I think taking on them all will be a good way to decide which you like best to pursue the most. Just my opinion.
  9. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Here is my way of looking at it. I happen to live about 30 minutes from NY City, here there is salsa 7 nights a week, 365 days a year. I am rican so I thought it should go with me as well.

    But as far as philosphy goes...
    I know only salsa because It is my one and only love. While I did expirience with a few girls named, cha-cha, tango, bolero, bachata, rumba amongst others, salsa ripped my heart out of my body and soothed my soul to the point where her melodies and me became one.

    No matter how many other women I see, the love I have for my Lady will never cease, she is more beautiful and more loving to me than any one woman (dance) will ever be. I can never be jealous of what others do with their women because what my Love gives me is itself a sight of jealousy, and the cause for my existance....

    How do I know it will never end? Because I have never felt so complete in my life... Because she isn't jealous, because she gives me all I can ask from a woman, because she just IS. I will never, ever get tired of making love to her becuase making love requires love not physical pleasure, my love will never end because she and I have become LOVE itself.

    When I cry I find myself getting lost in her words, when I'm happy it is with her who I share my happiness, when I'm lonely it is her who stands beside me, when I am hungover she serenades it away, when I need to physically show my love, it is to her that I dance... I have chosen Salsa because without she my soul would feel the void. So while all other dances look compeling the DEPTH of which my love for salsa goes, wouldn't allow me to cheat on her...
    :D :D :D
  10. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    I come from the totally opposite point of view, but I have to say this. You are a poet. 8) And I hope your love of salsa gives you everything you've imagined for as long as you wish. I think it will. :D

    Much love and respect to you. :D
  11. dancersdreamland

    dancersdreamland New Member


    Obviously, I am more of a breadth than a depth kind of dance, but I'm not really sure how it happened.

    I think, in general, when a passion chooses me, it really does become my passion. It's what I eat, sleep, breath, really becomes my life. Dance IS my passion...any and all forms. I have a hunger and a craving to gain as much knowledge and insight about dance as I possibly can. Sometimes I just feel like I'm jumping out of my skin because there is SOOOO much I want to learn.

    I think I started with ballroom, latin, swing, and line because that's where I was accepted. From there I found belly and then tap and jazz. I am by NO MEANS an expert at any of these dances nor do I consider myself to be incredibly talented. I tend to remember patters and pick up very quickly and I also follow pretty good. There's just something about dance, whatever kind, that just ignites me...that's what keeps me searching for more dance. I never want to lose that passion and fire.

    Right now, my primary dancing focus is only belly dance. It's probably the passion of my dance passion and someday, when I decide to really concentrate on a particluar style, it will likely be belly. But, who knows, I may never decide to pick one...I love them all too much!
  12. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member word only bro...damn. And I mean that with all the love in my heart.
  13. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    If you were a Black guy, you'd say day-amn. Two syllables. But you'd mean the same thing. Wow! I'm impressed. Much love, brotha!

  14. will35

    will35 New Member

    I have been in love with Argentine Tango music since middle school. I came to the dance quite a bit later than that. In fact, I tried a few ballroom things before that, but something did not feel quite right about it. The tango stuff they were playing just felt a little creepy. I did like some of the cuban things, though. Then, when I heard a live bandoneon for the first time, it had a sound about twice as big as your average ballroom stereo system. Then, I had to practically move to Argentina and marry a girl from there. I just found something I like that is more like an addiction than a dance. People can dance whatever they like, I don't mind. I just don't have much interest in it. Now, I'm thinking about moving to Argentina again. Things here are just not quite like there, even in the best Tango cities in America. The bug bit me, and I owe it all my time. I had a friend who moved to Buenos Aires a long time ago. I said I would go visit him. He said, "If you come see me, you'll never go back."
  15. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator


    You illustrate a wonderful point. In some ways in reminds me of myself about 10 years ago. it wasn't tango for me. I learned to love that later. It was social ballroom dancing. I found something that I loved more than anything I had ever encountered in my life. Even though I had a full-time job, I danced at 32 hours every week. When you find something you truly love, it can take you on a wonderful journey.

    Sometimes breadth neccesarily comes first, because people want to see the range of possiblity before they dive in with all their heart. For others, they find the form of dance they like from the very start and they immediately seek a depth of knowledge and experience.
  16. will35

    will35 New Member

    Yes, it's like a fever. I guess I fell in love with the music first, and then I wondered how people moved to it.
    I wonder how those little ballerinas feel when they start out at two or three years old. Do they fall in love with it or is it the only thing they know? What happens when they find out they are going to be too tall or have a long neck when they are teenagers? Do they shoot themselves?
  17. will35

    will35 New Member

    What did that last post have to do with anything?
  18. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    Don't worry, Will35

    I've been losing my marbles a little bit today, too!
    Once again you bring up a good point, Sometimes you find something you love only to find that you have some limiting quality. I think you've been listening to tango music a little too much. :lol: I'm no expert on tango music, but don't many tango songs start with something wonderful only to find tradgedy later?
  19. will35

    will35 New Member

    Well, I think most songs that tell little stories are like that, but some tangos start and end in tragedy. Even the title is tragic. Abandono, Adios Buenos Aires, etc. I have noticed that in the older tangos, with the modulation from the major to the tonic minor (not the relative minor), things can be a little more shocking. But you can find it in other music such as chamame, which I think I like even more than tango.
    I still don't know where the thing about the ballerinas came from. We don't really have that in tango. If you never become any good, you can still dance and have fun. I've met some awful dancers who dance every night. In classical ballet, though, there's no hope if you are not the best. You know what they say, "Those who can, do. Those who cannot, teach." That is a pretty harsh environment for a dance.
  20. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Thank you pygmalion!!! Love is love no matter if it is from many or just one. I have no doubt we all reach extasy in every dance :D :D So far it has been doing pretty well, although I was dying in bed for the past week so I couldn't dance :cry:

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