Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by JIMMY, Jun 26, 2004.
we have a jillion threads on this which never end well
I think you're right that it's commonly the case, or at least that it's a very easy perception for competitive dancers to acquire. But I don't think there's anything inherent in competitive or social dancing that compels it to be the case.
I agree that one needs some formal training to compete successfully. But there are some who undertake that training with no intention of ever competing.
And, anyway, I think this takes us off topic now; because I think this is all quite unrelated to the difference between American and International styles.
As someone who dances socially in Midwest USA [Iowa], most people (around here) have never even heard of International style.
Nor do they realize that what they are dancing is "American style."
But -- they are having fun and continue to turn out for dance events in large numbers. It is the 'social' part of dancing that gets the emphasis around here.
[That doesn't mean we all ignore technique .. see next post.]
As noted in my previous post -- yes, most of our social dancers are just out to have a good time and interact with others. No problem with this.
However, some of us spend a lot of time (and other resources) attempting to learn some good technique. We are not satisfied to be just 'so-so' -- we enjoy the challenge of trying to be the best (social) dancers we can be. It is a never-ending process, but we gradually learn to dance more efficiently, to feel more in tune with the music, and certainly to move with more joy. The rewards are palpable, including a great sense of accomplishment. All without a single thought of competing with anyone else!
I don't dance socially very often, but this weekend I did happen to dance a few foxtrots with ladies who strictly dance american, and wanted to post my experience. I currently only dance international standard, but a long time ago I did dance some smooth. I was trying to do syllabus steps that overlap between the styles to the best of my knowledge. Lead and follow wasn't much of a problem even when I was throwing in the occasional open impetus to feather, I did not lead any heel turns. What I found most challenging was the timing. It felt like I was on a different beat than the ladies I was dancing with, and it felt somewhat bumpy, they seemed maybe a half a beat ahead of me at times. When I watch those ladies dancing with their instructors or other gentlemen who dance american, I note they have no problems, and I'd consider them solid dancers in their styles.
So in foxtrot, at the syllabus level, I can't help but wonder if there are more differences than just the steps.
In waltz I have no problems between styles. I haven't attempted american tango in quite some time, it just looks too much like a different beast.
I have observed American and International tango and rumba, and done a few lessons in each. I actually like the feel of the International style more than the American and think that it more closely matches my interpretation of what the dance and music should be. For instance, I enjoy the way my body shapes doing the international rumba in closed basic -diamond shape basic - vs American rumba in closed -box basic. As a beginner I would describe these two dances as boxy/rounder in American style and more angular in International.
I think the reason these really heated debates occur is that we are all very very proud of our dancing, regardless of the style we dance. When someone comes along and asks "What's different?" we want to get that person to understand that what we do is so much better than what 'they' do because we've had success in it, and you can too.... not really paying attention to the question, imposing our own ideas into it.
If the question is straightforward -- What is the difference between American and International -- it all depends on where you are, who your teachers were, and why you came to dancing in the first place. Meaning, personal bias and experience is inescapable. I'd argue, however, that to provide an answer would take too long and would be too complicated. We rely on stereotypes about the style to serve as an explanation of the difference, when really, there isn't one. But the answer itself is so drawn out and so long and boring that it's easier to pretend that there is.
And while there are slight differences in technique and figures, the very core is the same: no matter what style we dance, we dance it because we want to be sociable, we want to have a good time, and we want to learn about the activity and ourselves. The stereotypes and assumptions we make are valid in some ways and invalid in other ways, and at the end it doesn't matter because we reach the same consensus: dance is dance.
If one practices hard enough and gets proper instruction then the differences that exist will be so minimal you will not notice them. In the end, it all boils down to you... and what you'll make of what you're given.
I absolutely agree with this statement. I used to think that I liked American Smooth better because of freedom of expression on the floor, but since I've been doing Standard for a few years now, I completely changed my vote. I LOVE Standard and find that it works better for me and I look better doing it. However, I won't sit there and argue that one style is better than the other. This is only my personal preference, no more, no less. I still actively compete in both styles. We should all enjoy all the styles that we dance and quit arguing about it!
Aha! Nail on the head! That is exactly how I feel and why I prefer Standard over American Smooth. I am a musician and have a certain interpretation of the pieces of music in my mind, and Standard just seems to fit right in. Does that make any sense???
There are several different schools of thought on foxtrot timing even just within International style. The same differences can apply to American style.
I think this is pretty understandable in Rumba; I've heard that American style "square rumba" was an Arthur Murry invention because it would make it easy for people who had already learned the box step i waltz or foxtrot to do rumba as well, and he thought the "break on 2" would be hard to teach.
In tango, I'm not so sure. I've heard the romance of International style tango described as something like that of a couple who have been married 10 years, have long since forgotten what they ever saw in one another, and are staying together only for the kids.
The " Cubans " will be pleased to hear of its origin !!... its actually a form of Danzon, a " Son " based rhythm, around long before A/M was born.
The format used today in Sq. style, is a hybrid of Danzon .
Makes perfect sense to me! That's why I like dancing everything - smooth, rhythm, latin, standard. No matter the music, I have the right dance for that.
Ok.. I read almost 15 pages.. I can't do it anymore.. I will red the remains tomorrow haha.
Anyway, what I wanted is to tell you all what I decided to do.
To answer this question, I asked some past Blackpool finalists what should I do. One of them is a member of this forum but I won't write his user name.
The fact is that almost each one of them belive that technique is technique. This fact was also supported by competitors which were in blackpool, and teachers that taught them how to get there but weren't finalists, also.
What is more suprising is the next fact:
Even if you started in the age of 17 or 18 you are still young. Don't let anyone say otherwise, you can achieve what ever you want, "everything is possible" they ALL said. The only question is, how badly you want it. Work hard.
I joined dancing classes so I will know how to dance with others. In the occasion of let's say, friends' wedding.. I would be able to just pick up a stranger girl and dance with her.
Then, after watching Mirko Gozzoli and Alessia Betti and other champions I decided that I would like to compete, to perform some shows.. so when I will be 60 years old I will be really proud about my dancing knowing I did the maximum.
I like my teacher. I really do.
I went to other dancing classes too (more about it later) and I can now say in totally confidence I have a great chemistry with my teacher. I know she really cares about my progress and only wish I will be what I want to be.. I know it for sure. No discussion about it.
I decided that enjoying my dancing is the most important thing.. and I can say I couldn't enjoy dancing with my teacher more than I do right now.
And also, after 3 blackpool finalists said to me that my dancing is quite good and my teacher is awesome, I ensured that my teacher is a great one not only with the eyes of the beginner (my eyes) but by the eyes of the masters to.
The only thing that I thought is to take an extra lessons in Int'l Std so I would be able to dance them both. I belive it's a mistake.. it's not easy for a beginner to make that partition between the two styles and mixing them both, can't be a good decision.
If you have a good teacher, and you are enjoying your dancing so much.. and you progress well.. you should keep dancing there. If you mastered the syllabus and want to check the Int'l Std.. go for it.. but from my point of view.. learning too much in a short time isn't a good idea either.. so decide where your enjoyment find itself and where you belong and stay there till you really fell you want to learn other stuff too.
So.. in conclusion.
1. Belive in yourself. The real great teachers won't say to you "you can't" there is an age which is too old to start to compete but well 18 is young enough.
2. Enjoy your dancing. Anyone of the greats ended his letter with this words. Marcus Hilton ended his letter with this words adding an exclamation mark ("!") in the end.
3. Find a great teacher in your area and start there.
4. ENJOY YOUR DANCING! maybe I wasn't clear before.
Now about the dance classes I took in other places. All of them taught Int'l Std.
One place was totally horrible. The teacher just kept saying bad things about my studio so I will decide to switch to her calss. She told me the competitors dancing from the age of 4 and before even watching my dancing she said in a full heart there is no way I will be able to compete against them (I'm not talking about Blackpool but about a much smaller competition).. She didn't even invite me to dance with her class but give me a chair to seat and watch. Then, when she just asked me to dance with her a basic Waltz step she was amazed I have a technique. I wrote to myself the number of those teachers in my phone so I won't pick up the phone ever. They called me 3 times those 2 days. This is a place I won't want to study in. How will I say it gently.. if the sun was a square and the stars spoke in Yiddish, only then, maybe I would give them a second chance.
Other place wasn't good but wasn't so bad also. The teacher won the "Dancing with the stars" show in Israel.. she is a nice dancer but in my point of view my teacher is much better.. "Dancing with the stars" results can't be a detector to a great dancer or teacher in my point of view. She watched her students only a half of the time and didn't work on their techinque.. the experienced dancers there danced quite good.. better than me I belive.. but I won't be suprised if you ask them "what a point is" and they wouldn't know. The lesson ended when no one could have done what she just taught. They dance well, but I can't belive I will find even only one of their names in Dancesportinfo in the future.. The teacher how will I say it.. Don't give a **** about her students. The teacher is very very pretty but I won't go there because maybe I am wrong and she just had a bad day.. but I won't take the chance.
The third place is the teachers of the second place. In Israel they taught many many competitors. They said to me, as the greats said "EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE, THE QUESTION IS HOW BADLY YOU WANT IT". I could see in the teacher eyes that even though he teaches Int'l and I danced American there.. he liked to watch my dancing.. He didn't feel any risk to his business teaching me while dancing American in other studio.. he really liked my passion for dancing and it made me feel very proud abouy myself. I could see that not like other studios.. when he put music he just liked it.. he liked the music.. not only the steps but the music itself too. I would have been more than happy to dance in their dance calsses but the only classes they were able to offer was a total senior beginners group or a competitors group which I can't join. They didn't tried to sell me stuff so badly and just wrote my number in a case they will have something to offer in the future.
My studio is the place I liked the most and it is so close to my home.. I will stay there. The only thing is the price.. because it's Arthur Murray.. and because that for my age there are only private lessons.. I had almost a bankrupt ... my teacher was the best from the 4 places I've been at.
I hope I helped some of you and future members also.. if you have questions or some marks to add I will reply.
Thank you for all of that help.
Enjoy Your Dancing!!
Yes and no. Some styles of music "cry" out for Amer. style and other arrangements ,"Intern".
Its the same analogy with the various style of Rumba, some just dont fit Intern.style ( usually the indigenous forms).
The very reason there are many types/styles of dance is because changes in composition ( from 2/4 to 4/4 for e.g. ) came about.
I just had a conversation with a guy who does mainly bronze with a smattering of silver in american and international styles (and has been doing that for a long time), and he said that what he doesn't like about standard is that the patters are not self-contained. Even if he can, theoretically, follow a pattern by "any promenade figure" or "any natural figure", for example, if he doesn't know that many of promenade or natural figures in that particular dance his choices are limited. Whereas, the way he learned smooth, everything is self-contained and he can put patterns in any order he wishes. In some way, I think, this mindset is holding him back, because even when he in theory understands that you can mix and match elements of different patterns, he can't mix and match them on the fly.
Isn't that just that he isn't as familiar with Standard? If he doesn't know that many figures then he will be limited in what he can put together. OH and I dance Standard socially a lot and we don't have any problems mixing and matching on the fly (absolutely necessary when you're on a crowded dance floor). Whereas if we were to attempt to dance American Smooth in that situation our knowledge is so very, very, limited I'm sure we'd spend a lot of the time muttering "what can we do next". Is Smooth more conducive to mixing and matching for beginners or is down to the way you've been taught?
He had two complaints, really. One was that there weren't that many choices (and he has a point there, if you know only bronze patterns, there aren't that many choices). But his other and much bigger complaint was that with standard there was an additional constraint he had to think about - if the figure he wants to do next can be started from the position he is in now. And this complaint is, imv, a direct result of learning in terms of only self-contained patterns in smooth. As Josh said, beginning smooth is mostly taught in a way that the patterns can be put together in any order, so the only thing a guy needs to think about is where he wants to go next and how he wants to get there. There's no need to think if he is in the correct starting position for the figure he wants to do.
Ah right, yes I see. Is Smooth always taught that way, or is it just that it's easier for beginners? Surely at some point you've got to think about positioning? Excuse my ignorance, but my experience and knowledge of Smooth is very limited (would like it to be greater, but there was very little opportunity to learn where I was in the UK).
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