Question for ballroom instructors, or others who may know...

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Mitra, May 15, 2005.

  1. Mitra

    Mitra New Member

    Every person is like a gemstone.....

    ....For a gemstone needs to be polished to shine, just as a person needs to be educated to shine ^_^

    Yes, a little bit of a philosophy, but I needed a bit of a catchy title that pertained to my recent issue, lol.

    Anyways, as some may know, I am currently going to be undergoing training to become a ballroom dance instructor now, much to my ecstatic (sp?) delight to say the very least. Not only will I be doing something I adore, but if I get the job in the end, I will be furthering my knowledge onto others, a noble task to say the least and one I would be very honored to partake on.

    But I ramble ^_^ My issue actually deals with the training. See, I'm one of those driven people, give me a path and if I love it, I will plow through it without instruction if need be. My actual training starts next week, Wednesday to be exact by Minnesota dating, lol, but from what I heard I am the most experienced person in the training, most others have not danced ballroom before. So I want to get ahead of the game while I can and start training myself intensively not only in the dance studio, but off as well.

    What I ask of all you fellow Dfers is two things really, the first is I keep hearing about this "syllabus" for those wishing to go beyond the social foundation level and start into bronze, silver, and gold levels of competing and that they must use this "syllabus" in order to learn new moves in the next levels. Where is this thing? Is it just sitting around on the internet somewhere so that I can hunt for it or is it something that can only be given to me by fellow instructors on a need to know basis, as I gain levels and such, because I'd really start having these things before me even though I know I will only be focusing on lower level training for quite some time, but like I said, I'm driven ^_^

    The other issue is, what kind of videos would anyone recommend to view to help further my training, not just websites since I have already done quite the scavenging for them already, including the ones already mentioned in DF posts. I'm thinking like actual DVD's of dance instructors or competing dancers that have been put out that people would recommend, although if people still wish to mention websites, I would gladly accept them, although I already have scoured ballroomcenter.com, bustamove.com, and a couple of other miscellanious sites I have come across.

    Sorry for the length of this post, but I really like to be ahead of the game on this training since I hope in the end for this to be my actual permanent job. Like I said, driven ^_^

    Much love and thanks!
    Mitra
  2. cl5814

    cl5814 New Member

    For DVDs and videos, check out dancevision.com website. A lot of instructional stuff on that website.

    Good luck with your training. Hope you will do well and enjoy it.
  3. Mitra

    Mitra New Member

    Oh wow, that place even separates it by levels. Thank you so much cl5814, this will help out with that second problem so much ^_^

    And thank you, I think I will enjoy it very much, combining a passion of mine with a honorable service to others always gives that nice fuzzy feeling, lol.
  4. Another Elizabeth

    Another Elizabeth Active Member

    You can order copies of the international style syllabi from www.usistd.org. You can get American style syllabi there, as well, but they're not "definitive" - there are a lot of competing syllabi in American style, and you will probably want to find out which one your studio uses first.

    The syllabi will give you all the details of "which foot goes where," but it's probably not advisable to try to learn new figures by reading them, at least not until you're reasonably experienced at understanding the charts. Even then, it's easy to pick up weird misconceptions from trying to learn figures from the charts. But knowing the information in them will help your dancing and teaching (not to mention that you will need to know them backwards and forwards if you intend to take the teaching exams).
  5. dTas

    dTas New Member

    do you know what style of ballroom your studio teaches? that makes a big difference in the syllabous you'll be teaching. i say try to learn as many different syllabous's as possible. not only does it give you a well rounded education but you end up with a whole bunch of patterns that you can easily teach at each level.

    Another Elizabeth: where on the eastside do you teach/dance?
  6. alemana

    alemana New Member

    so people who don't know anything about ballroom dancing can be trained to teach it?
  7. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Yup. It's just harder as you must leran how to dance and then how to teach it in a very short amount of time.
  8. alemana

    alemana New Member

    good lord.
  9. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

    Happens all the time.
  10. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    On the positive side, it's probably more efficient to take someone prepared to seriously study a subject and teach them the first time how it really works, than it is to slowly build up knowledge over a few years of lessons simplified to keep things "fun and not too challenging".

    The problem with training teachers this way though is that you have to pair the intensive training with sufficient practical experience for it all to make sense - and that really will take a year or two at minimum to develop. Specifcally, this needs to be experience dancing with an equal or better partner. One thing often overlooked is that while students learn from teachers, teachers also learn from students as well - someone who spends the majority of their time with low level students can start to show beginner problems in their dancing - it seems to take regular work at something closer to the teacher's own level to keep their skills up.
  11. dTas

    dTas New Member

    i find training instructors much more fun than training students. instructors are VERY motivated to learn and want look good infront of the student body.

    not to say that there aren't very motivated students but often i come across students that i have to "convince" that what they're learning is good for them and worth learning. :roll:

    teaching a person to be an instructor right off the street also has the added benefit of no bad habbits to break or mis-conceptions to unlearn. :D
  12. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Of course the same goes for teaching someone to be a ballroom competitor right off the street...

    But there are always misconceptions - no teacher is perfect, and each time the knowledge is passed on misunderstandings are introduced. One thing that I've found very informative is to try to get lessons that skip back up a generation or two, specifically within the family tree of your usual teachers - you hear things in the same style you are used to, but often with a few additional or corrected details that can quickly resolve long standing puzzles/problems.
  13. Mitra

    Mitra New Member

    Thank you everyone for your input, I was really unsure if this syllabus was actually several forms and whatnot, but this makes it easier. I don't plan to actually use it right away since I want right now to perfect just the main dances.

    As for what style I would be learning, I am training through Fred Astaire Dance Studio if that helps anyone understand, but I am guessing that I will be primarily working with American Smooth and Rhythm for the first year, gradually working with minor dances as time goes on and the students I would be encountering might be wanting to learn it as well. If there is a more specific form of American Styles than that, I know not of it just yet, but as soon as I begin training, these questions will come up from me, so thank you for mentioning them now so I know what to ask ^_^

    I would think training me would be easier for the studio since although most of the applicants are right off the street, I have been a student of Fred Astaire for a few months now and kind of know how things are, so perhaps it will work to my advantage. I can only hope and train as hard as I can at this point now.
  14. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Okay, that clarifies things. Since the FADS syllabus is something along the lines of a trade secret, you won't be able to buy supporting materials from any other source that directly match it. There is a lot of overlap with what is taught elsewhere of course, and basic ideas are the same, but any video from another source is going to be a somewhat different collection of steps, and most confusingly have different names for them. I think there are FADS videos that some of the studios sell, but if your in person training is good you probably will do as well with just that plus any materials they assign to you, and if your in-person training turns out not to be good, you need to rethink the whole plan.

    If you have extra time on your hands, hang out at the studio and watch... it will take a while to really learn to observe dancing, but gradually your eyes open to what you are seeing and little things that have been said (or have not been said) suddenly seem important.
  15. Mitra

    Mitra New Member

    Yeah, started talking about that with one of the other instructors, he just said the same thing ^_^ Didn't realize that FADS is such a secretive organization, but I guess with a famous name behind you, things do have to be kept that way. But thank you for mentioning that, I would have never thought about it otherwise.

    I normally do spend time just sitting and watching others, I always have my notebook nearby to write down notes on anything that catches my eyes, like positions, different signals that some people seem to give, pretty much just anything. It really helps because although I may see something happen and understand it, once I have to write it down is when I really start to break down how to do things in my mind and can actually perfect them. Thank you everyone for your comments though ^_^
  16. HF

    HF New Member

    ... frankly said I am completely puzzled by this.

    My ballroom trainer has been competing for years as amateur and after that as professional before being a professional trainer. Also my salsa teacher has been winning competitions and done many many shows before he decided to make a living from teaching.

    Although I have been happily able to explain one or the other detail to beginners I would think that every art needs at least five years before you are not a beginner any more yourself. Now I learn that people think they can teach beginners to be a teacher from startup ... or did I misunderstand something? :?
  17. alemana

    alemana New Member

    i have heard so many horror stories about the whole fred astaire franchise.... this is not improving my opinion either.
  18. Mitra

    Mitra New Member

    To HF, I would only be able to teach beginners myself, nothing over that for a few years probably until I myself train into higher levels. Also, even if I do make it into becoming an instructor, I probably won't get students of my own for a while and so I will be training then as well, and by a while I mean months.

    To alemana, I hope these horror stories don't mar your opinion too much, thus far FADS has proven a wonderful dance studio, even with the drama that can occur at times, which all studios have, its dancing ^_^ But what exactly do you mean by "horror"? Seems a bit harsh since every franchise or business has its dark side, not just one.
  19. pianoman

    pianoman New Member

    sorry if this comes out the wrong way, because i certainly don't want to be unduly harsh

    i'll begin by commending you, Mitra, on your desire to learn to dance, and for taking the steps towards forging a career that is based on something you're passionate about. Congratulations. I'm a piano teacher myself, and I think teaching something that you love, is a fantastic way to make money.

    that said, i think it's 'horrible' that you can try to train up someone that is relatively inexperienced (or on your words, "no experience with ballroom dancing" although of course that's not you, right?) to teach...

    if I were to walk in through the doors of any dance studio, wide-eyed and naive, I believe i deserve better than to get someone who has been dancing for less than a year! One of the reasons why a particular instructor i know is good is because "[he's] been dancing before you were born... or even contemplated!" Sure you can learn to teach the steps, but the subtle nuances that make ballroom dancing what it is can only be developed the hard way - through time

    On a totally unrelated note, what is the nature of the FADS syllabus? i'm totally ignorant here: if i were to fly to the States, and lead my ISTD using my best possible lead, would a lady who has learnt for say, 18 months, through the FADS system be able to follow bronze and silver steps in the 8/10 dances?
  20. dTas

    dTas New Member

    in the US there a many more social ballroom dancers (beginning or bronze) than competitors or show dancers (silver and above), and there are many more new beginners than social dancers (someone has to start somewhere).

    it does not take an accomplished professional with 10+ years of experience in order to teach a person how to do a basic box or what the difference between a rumba and a foxtrot is. it takes someone who is enthusiastic, fun and supporting to make the initial experience fun for the beginner so they will want to continue to dance.

    once that person has learned the basics and decides that they want to continue, then they can move on to a more experienced instructor to show them the fine details of dancing and once the student has learned from them they'll move on to another and another through their dance life.

    i commend Mitra in wanting to become an instructor. its rare to have the talent to pass on information to others, and to do so in an exciting positive way. dancing is a hard business to do well in. it is also hard to separate the dancer within from the sales person that the studio wants. be warned... dancing is also a business.

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