Ballroom Dance > Peter Eggleton

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by DanceMentor, Nov 6, 2010.

  1. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    We were fortunate enough to have a couple of lessons with Peter Eggleton recently, and had heard all kinds of stories about him having some unusual ways at getting you to do things. I also heard about people realizing what he meant years later. I'm sure some of you have had lessons with him, and I thought it would be great to share some stories about this living legend.

    On our first lesson we decided to show him our Waltz, and we got as far as preparation steps, and he said, "I wouldn't do it like that". Basically, he did not want to see any preparation steps before the Natural turn. The first step would be the man's right foot for step 1 of the Natural. No side steps. No prep step on the left foot. Just right into the Natural. And the same applied to the Feather in Foxtrot.

    I persisted that I had not seen any couples starting their dance this way, and he then asked me why I felt those steps were necessary. I said something about starting the swing and getting setup, and he asked me the same question. I really couldn't argue with him, but we certainly started our Naturals and Feathers with no preparation steps for the rest of the lessons. I'm still thinking on why he wanted us to do it that way.

    When were doing the Three Fallaways we were taking them toward diagonal center. He started by telling me not to turn as much. So we danced it a little bit more toward center. He said that was still too much so we danced it almost into the wall. He said that was still too much, and I said, "What are you trying to do? Run me into the wall?". He said, "Well, you don't want to take it to the center.".

    He went on to tell me that the Three Fallaways should not start in the corner and move toward the center. Instead, they should start more in the middle, and travel more toward the wall.

    It was an interesting way to make his point. I literally ran into the wall about the fourth time he asked me to turn less.

    Can anyone share your stories about something he told you on your lesson?
  2. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    My experience has been very similar. Peter is a living legend and I didn't do any "persisting" as you did :) I said "how high" when he asked me to jump :) No prep step, straight into the natural. I don't actually do it this way but I appreciate his point in doing so.

    Condensing many pages of notes, these main points stand out:

    + quality of the step produces movement, namely the release of weight into the supporting leg--movement is a result[/i]
    + he was helpful in collecting legs under the body
    + there is turn in everything, no step is straight
    + Peter was very helpful in developing my understanding of promenade position, not turning the front to go to PP
    + curve and the "R side forward" issue in tango
    + underturning the body (to a severe degree as you mentioned) and utilizing the hips, legs and feet for turning

    In the time since I've worked with him last, I've been able to put into context much of what he talks about. He really knows his stuff, and as with any coach, you must make what you learn fit into what you're doing and what you already know. If a brand new dancer were to have a lesson with Peter, he would probably come out doing all sorts of weird stuff because Peter is so conceptual and quite abstract. But if you can fit it into what you're doing and make it better, then it can improve your dancing.

    Peter is all about the quality of movement and doesn't care at all if you can move leaps and bounds but the quality isn't perfect. He's from the days when, as he said it, dancing was about a man and a woman dancing together, and he would be excited to get the chance to dance with a lady socially! He's not about an athletic frame--he wants relaxed and easy.

    He explained where waltz came from-- the "quarter turn waltz" was three left turning quarter turns, followed by three right turning quarter turns. This was the precursor to the 3/8 turns, change, and 3/8 turns. This is probably why he is geared towards "everything has curve."

    He said that in his day, a coach would often ask couples "do you reverse," to which many couples would say "no," indicating the difficulty with which reverse turns are correctly executed.

    He is such a dear person, and his wife Pam is also very lovely and accommodating, they are really treasures in the dance world.
  3. Standarddancer

    Standarddancer Well-Known Member

    Josh did excellent job in describing this dance master's concept and idea. I only had one lesson with him, not able to expand as much as Josh. Yes he emphasizes curve and turn, and quality of movement; He's an old-timer dance master, for him, dance is like harmony of man and woman dancing together. He's the founder of the Round School, this style is everything is dancing around partner, has a round look, thus I understand how he stress "no step is straight, there's turn in everything..." He is definitely conceptual and sometimes quite abstract. He's a treasure in the dance world and very nice person.
  4. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    What is your view on the reasoning behind him doing this?
    Luca and Lorraine do this sometimes also. They or course see him frequently I'm sure, so I assume they have had some discussions about this. I too don't do it this way, but would love to get more of an insight into this as I find it interesting. As for current competitors, Mirko is the closest I've seen. He doesn't do any of the side to side (but takes the prep), and Peter even mentioned that he spent a lot of time training Mirko.

    I remember also the Peter mentioned Len Colyer quite a bit as the inventor of many of the steps.
  5. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    Definitely! :)

    I only heard giving a name to styles like "round style" and "square style" in the last couple of years. I believe Maja Serve wrote an article about this, but I had not heard about this previous to that. Is there any history to the naming of styles like this?

    Previously, I had heard of "English Style" and "Italian Style", and certainly "Eggleton School" and "Gleave School" (and maybe a a few others too).
  6. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    I think that he feels it's too much extraneous movement that can distract from being over the foot as well as swinging. At the time he said I was too flat, not enough pendulum on the swing, and perhaps that was due to too much forward "falling" on the prep step to step 1 of the natural.

    Basically, I think it goes against his roots... his competitive years were 50's and 60's... that's 40 years ago, and the competitive look has changed so much that he probably wants to keep a bit of what was a more natural hold, movement, and style back then.

    I just found this on youtube, a lecture where he is describing fundamentally the same idea as what I think he told me was the "quarter turn waltz" or maybe it was the "3 turn waltz", man, can't remember.

    Here he talks about what I feel is his fundamental philosophy, that dancing AT one another is not as effective as dancing PAST one another:

    I will see Loraine this week and will ask her about their thoughts on the subject, and who knows, maybe Peter will be in the studio too..
  7. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    From what I know, Peter was very much involved in coaching some of the greats today as they were developing. I think his ideas have continued to develop, especially as you look at how active he has remained (even to this day). While maybe the hold has changed, I believe he had something to do with that.

    I'm not going to try to tell you that I know about Peter, but he is an interesting study, and I do hope some others will share their stories about him.
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    It was actually the late 40s. I know, I was in an Amat. Comp. in the South in 1950, in which he was entered. The old joke at that time was " I wonder whos going to be 2nd? ". And that makes it 60 yrs ago at least.

    As to his style etc, one needs to look at the people under whom he trained ( as most of us did ) .
  9. White Chacha

    White Chacha Active Member

    Had the privilege of attending a couple of participatory lectures he did in MA a year or so ago. I understood him, but probably because my regular coach has been interpreting Eggleton for his students for a while.

    I resonated with his insistence of the relationship between the partners (dancing with your partner). I felt he didn't have a soft spot in his heart for the term "dancesport". He comes across as an extraordinary gentleman.
  10. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    I totally agree DM--he's probably contributed as much to the development of ballroom as anyone, and for the better... I just mean that his style is not one of achieving "power and the look" at all costs. As you and I had the same coach for more than 2 years who was directly trained by him for many years, I'm sure we both know the value of his ideas! :)
  11. MarkSheldon

    MarkSheldon New Member

    I just joined the site so I could join in the chorus of praise for the great Peter Eggleton. He is a treasure and an inexhaustible font of dance knowledge!

    My advice is: If Mr. Eggleton is speaking, listen. If he is teaching in your area, go and learn. Do it now!

    Is his the only way to make beautiful dancing? No. But it is a way, and his unmatched understanding and good-natured habit of bringing everything back to the basic problems (you must move with your partner to the music, and help each other enjoy the experience) will help you. And he's so much fun to dance with! :)

    I have been privileged to work with many great coaches, but only a bit with Peter, and every word he has uttered has been solid gold. A lesson with Peter is worth many lessons with most coaches, because his information helps immediately, then again a few months later, and even years later. I recall telling him once 20 minutes into a 2 hour block that he'd already more than earned his money for the day, because he'd given me a way to think about fundamental issues that would help EVERYTHING for my entire dance career (to the extent I can apply it, of course). I go back to his words in my own dancing constantly, and I pass them on to my students.

    I've never found him to be abstract. He tells you what to do (eg, when you release a foot from the floor, the thigh swings under the body toward the center, etc...), why to do it that way (big and small picture), and how it came to be historically (and with wit and charm). Perhaps the fact that I worked so much with the Hilliers, who were his ardent pupils, smoothed the road for me.

    Finally, it's so rephreshing [when I spell that right, the site bleeps it as if it's profanity:-/] that for him, it's all about the dancing. He doesn't tell you how great he is. Titles are nice, but whether you're loaded with them or a newcomer, he approaches you with an eye to making your dancing easier mechanically, more satisfying, and more musically beautiful. And he really cares about every student. When he was doing some local workshops, he would have people dance and, while watching, he would say to my partner or me things like "That couple couple's getting it!" or "I can see they're pretty good, but doesn't that look smoother to you now?" or "The beginner over there needs some help, but I hope they can retain this as they figure out the figures." It was so clear that he genuinely wanted to make a positive contribution to each person's dancing.

    Lovely man. Lovely dancer. Great teacher.
  12. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Welcome to DF MarkSheldon, and thanks for adding to this thread!

    (As far as the "censored" word you encountered, too many virus scripts use it, so our system filters block it altogether as a safety measure)
  13. latingal

    latingal Well-Known Member

    Yes welcome to DF MarkSheldon!
  14. Standarddancer

    Standarddancer Well-Known Member

    Welcome to DF MarkSheldon!
  15. laylamah

    laylamah New Member

    It's nice to see you here Mark! :D
  16. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    I"m hoping other people who have had coaching with Eggleton will chime in. I believe my teacher learned from him, and there are several points I've read on this thread that call to mind teaching I've encountered. Any time I can hear more from someone of this calibre, even second- or third-hand, I'm glad to do so. Bring it on!
  17. Casayoto

    Casayoto Member

    Funny. All this Eggleton talk, and guess who was teaching a lesson in my studio today!
  18. White Chacha

    White Chacha Active Member

    One of my teachers said, "if you even get a chance to breath the air he's walked through, take it!".

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