General Dance Discussion > Two questions

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by glance2, Aug 4, 2007.

  1. glance2

    glance2 New Member

    I am nearing the end of a 6 session basic program at Arthur Murray. They want me to sign up for several more (50 to 60 sessions). I really like the program at the studio: classes almost every evening, weekly private lessons and studio parties. The Arthur Murray studio is asking for a financial commitment of $7 to 8k. Would I be better off someplace else?

    Another question is choosing dances to “major” in. As I understand, for social dancing (nightclub), the best dances would be cha cha, swing and rumba. Any suggestions?
  2. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

  3. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    hi glance2! Welcome to DF. I think you have come to the right place for that question - and am sure you will get a lot of input both ways. Many of us started off at a chain studio and some love it while others find alternative ways to develop their dancing (I'm one of the latter) but it really boils down to what you are after , what you are comfortable with, what your goals are - and, of course, what your dance budget is.

    Whatever your answers are to those questions at the very least do research your dance scene before committing. Unless you live in/near a small city there are going to be a lot of choices - each with its temptations but also its sacrifices. The studio offers a 'home' to dance in - usually its well organized and there are staff for everything. You get to hang out with the same group of people which serves as social club and also solves the problem (which can be a big one) of finding dance partners. It is, however, generally rather expensive and the goal may be more towards developing social dancing skills and not competetive ones. Several of us on this list compete and this is one of our major goals. If this is yours or yo think you may go that direction you may have to look further afield and take more control over the nuts and bolts of your dance training. Private studios offer an alternative sometimes with instructors that have competed and won major competitions. Other instructors (my personal favorite) work as free-lancers. You can often arrange to pay for each lesson then and there without any committment.

    Its a very varied scene in most places. Unfortunately, there are no general standards so you have to be careful and shop around - but the best source of information is other dancers who have been in, or know the scene. If you feel comfortable to, you could mention your city here - it is likely that someone will be from that area and can give you more in put.

    Welcome again - do stick around and look over the forum. we have a lot of fun in some threads and it can serve as a virtual home for those of us who get the dance bug and have no intention of ever letting it go!

    In my area salsa is probably the most useful social dance but the ones you mention are too - again this depends on the type of dance place you want to go to. These fit for the average nightclub but if you also want to dance at a ballroom studio and not miss many you will need the latin-style ones you metion and also jive and samba and for the smooth dances: foxtrot, waltz, quickstep and tango. However, do note that there are two ways of doing most of these: american style (like Fred Astaire/Ginger Rodgers), also known as social dancing, as well as 'International style' which is the international competition style (and social style in europe). Different dance places focus on one or the other mostly.

    There's much to learn! But it does not take a lot to get started. Just DO get lots of info before making a big financial committment.
  4. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    Hi TC - just as I was writing my looong missive you just snuck in there eh? :)
  5. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    :tongue: I'm admiring your novelette.
  6. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    I know, its full of hot air - perhaps I can call it "Gone with the Wind"
  7. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    "Great ballrooms of fire!"
  8. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

  9. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Will try to be as objective as poss. ( former owner and coach involved in chain and indy schools )

    Many will baulk at the price you quoted for lessons . The reality ? -- one can spend just as much with an independant teacher, the main difference, cost wise-- schools want pre payment . Some teachers ( indy ) sell in 10/ 20 hr blocks.
    You need to think of this like a pre payment for a college course. You can , obviously, choose to go the Indy route and pay lesson by lesson. The downside of that ?-- no groups or parties included in your priv. lesson fee-- no social activity on the scale you have been accustomed to ( some larger indys have more to offer ).

    To figure out the true value of your lessons, cost factor them as follows ( averages ) Priv.- $50 to 60 per-- Groups $ 8 to 10-- parties- $ 10.per

    The social activity, cannot be measured in financial terms-- thats a value you must place upon it .

    Your dance choices-- standard fare. You should also recognise, that those will be played at studio functions ( among others ) as far as club usage, Salsa is the current " flavor " of the day . Swing clubs are usually available in many areas .
    Research your area-- if you find something more appealing --- go for it.

    Which ever you choose, check on longevity of the institution .

    Either way. you will enjoy your journey .
  10. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    there's no need to spend so much money at your level. is AM the only ballroom studio available to you? have you done research to see if there are some independent instructors about? if so, the difference in cost could be astounding to you.

    i strongly encourage exploring your alternative options before forking over all that dough...

    the the first few months that i started, i spent thousands at a studio on packages, and got much less in return than when i switched to a far better independent teacher for a much lower rate...

    JANATHOME Well-Known Member

    The key words for me was the poster said " I really like the program at the studio". Especially being fairly new to the dance community it is really important that the new dancer feels comfortable in the setting and the AM studios really know how to make this happen.

    When I started dancing I did this exact same program. A 6 week at AM followed by a 50 week program. I think 10 years later I paid more for that 50 week program on a per hour basis then I have ever paid since then. With knowing what I know today would I have done it any different....absolutley not. I say often had it not been for AM who taught me how to just let go and have fun, introduced me to closed comps while holding my hand, I probably would not of continued on with dance. After this program I did go to an independent studio where I paid less and without a doubt received much better instuction. I then stayed at that independent studio for seven years. If finances permit, there is so much more to consider than how much a lesson cost.
  12. glance2

    glance2 New Member

    More questions

    As with any great discussion, it leaves me with even more questions. How do I find an independent instructor or studio? Any tips? I’m in Southern California, Long Beach/Orange County area.

    PS. Your combined advice is priceless.
  13. glance2

    glance2 New Member


    At the present, becoming proficient at social or nightclub dancing is my goal. Competiton intrigues me because of the absolute beauty of the dances. At AM, it seems like studio dancing is the focus. I’m not really sure if studio dancing is that practical for a nightclub. It looks like it takes up a lot of space just to execute some of the most elegant moves. For me, real estate seems to be a problem at nighclubs.
  14. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    Do you have any particular goals? As mentioned above, this is rather important for any advice (not that I can help in the LA region - I'm in Toronto, let me know if you decide to suddenly move up here! ;) ).
  15. mamboqueen

    mamboqueen Well-Known Member

    Go to and click on "Directories" and you should be able to search for an instructor in your area. Somewhere in my house I have a dance almanac that I picked up at a comp that is a directory of instructors and will probably list more than what is on the website, but I think the website is a very good start. Good luck!
  16. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    You have me thouroughly confused !-- In one breath, you say that social is your goal , and then go on to extol the virtues of comp. dancing, whilst adding--- that nite club takes up a lot of space !!.

    if you were to stay with the rhythm dances, Salsa, Swing ( e, and w coast ), that should more than suffice your " club " needs .

    I think before you venture any further in you percieved direction-- choose a path, and then make a decision .

    If comps. are your focus, then an independant will give you a freedom of choice ,whereas the chain schools, may take longer to achieve your ultimate goal .

    One more suggestion-- if comps are your focus, would suggest finding an amat. who shares your interest .
  17. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    On the contrary, it seems that glance2 has noticed that the "studio dancing" offered in... studios... is not really a match for nightclubs - and has perhaps even noticed that it's not really the same thing as competition dancing either.

    That can be one of the problems with dance studio programs which are not "plugged in" to either an outside social scene or an outside competition one - what is taught there may not be applicable anywhere else.
  18. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Oh my goodness, you are in a hotbed of excellent independent dance instruction. Use Google and look for studios such as Club One and Londance. There are more studios down there but I'm from Northern California and those were the two that came to my mind first. I know there are a lot more - Vivo is one.

    Personally, shelling out money for 30+ lessons at once is not something I would do. I started at a chain studio years ago and really resented them coming after me all the time for huge sums of money. I loved my teacher (and he went on to be come a multi-time US NDCA Champion -- meaning a champion of all the Pros in the US not just the ones in the chain he worked for), but every so often the studio manager would sit me down and pump me for lessons. I'd still have 10 or 15 left on my contract and they'd be after me to re-up, as it were. But that's just me...I've come to like paying for lessons 10 at a time, it's the most convenient for me. Your opinion may differ.

    Really, given where you are located, the best thing to do is shop around. Take group classes at all the different studios you are interested in. Go to the parties at these studios. Talk to people about if and where they go nightclub dancing. If the studios have any 'new student introductory packages' where you get a couple of privates and a month-long group class and a party or two together for one low price, take those. It's like looking for a job, but you are the one doing the hiring -- try out different places, see which studios are convenient, which have the right "vibe," which have teachers you seem to click with and which seem to have students who are learning to do the things you want to learn.

    Good luck and have fun -- there are lots of choices out there, and it's possible that your current studio will end up being the best choice for you. But you won't know until you shop around.
  19. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    Excellent advice from everyone. The only thing I'd add is that if (one of your) goals is dancing in nightclubs, go to some of the clubs you'd like to dance in and see what people are doing.
  20. rhythm mouse

    rhythm mouse New Member

    I've been w/ AM for 2 years now, and have recently added some independent instructors where I have specific interests/ needs.

    I agree whole-heartedly with what's been said here. Let me add this: My husband does not dance, and it has been a financial strain at times for me to afford this, especially considering that it is MY hobby alone. I, too , have been "encouraged", pumped - whatever you want to call it - to add additional lessons to my program. I simply stand firm: I have a wonderful instructor, and it helps when I lay it out straight. I can afford x$$ at a time, and I will pay it that way. This often means that I have to space out my lessons to 2 per month (or less sometimes), but it also means I have been able to continue steadily, and I wouldn't change that. Since I have been clear, he simply discusses my next program needs when I'm down to completing a level, and we continue with the payment plan I have set. Once in awhile, I'm able to add extra lessons or events in a Showcase, and we're both pleased with that.

    I stay with AM for exactly the reasons outlined by everyone here. I have met a wonderful group of people who are looking to DANCE, not hook up for dates. My studio is my home - I feel like I belong there, and often become the "greeter", welcoming newer students to the experience. But I fully understand when they worry about the expense. I value the package of privates/groups/practices, and take full advantage of them, so they are worth my while. Gradually, I have ventured out into club settings (not the college clubs, as I'm past that by a large margin) and really mastered Salsa on a social level. I did that by getting the basic instruction from AM, and then simply dancing with a variety of leads, giving me the ultimate experience in learning how to follow effectively. I've gone so far as to find a partner there, and we've begun finding private instructors for particular things we want to fine tune or learn. We'll compete in an Amateur Street Salsa at Dancesport in Aug. - this first time for fun.

    So there's a way to do both. By assessing your budget and being upfront with folks, you can get what you need and not feel so pressured. At least that's been my experience. Hope yours works out as well for you, whatever you decide.

Share This Page