General Dance Discussion > What Would You Tell Beginners?

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by pygmalion, Oct 7, 2006.

  1. WorksForShoes

    WorksForShoes Member

    DennisBeach, the studio in question didn't want to teach Viennese waltz ("too dangerous"), but also balked on quickstep ("people could fall"), international cha cha ("you will screw up your knees"), and hustle ("it is just a junk dance").
     
  2. saludas

    saludas New Member

    LOL that's priceless.
     
  3. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    Interesting. I was told at one point that I need to learn a few other things first before I try VW, but that was several years ago and I don't remember the details. Although I do know two individuals, who make me think that some people need to pass a test to dance quickstep or viennese, or at least wear some warning sign so that others can get off the floor. I vented my frustration about them once here, so I won't repeat myself.
     
  4. PasoDancer

    PasoDancer New Member

    I'm wondering if they'd teach us paso and jive if we expressed curiosity in it in earnest. I mean, that's how we learned VW and quickstep... nobody else wanted to until we did, then when they all tried it, they whined that it was hard and quit.

    I've learned something- if you're a stereotype in one field, you inevitably carry it over to everything else you do. I'm a nerd at heart. I study EVERYTHING about something if I can, if it's available to me, and work and pick at it until it works for me. Horses, flute, dancing, jewelry-making, writing, etc. And as that particular nerd, I'm always the one that sticks out- J, too... he was an honor student, LOL- and we're "the geeks who practically live at the studio and go through all this work, waste all this time, spend all this money, for what? It isn't like they're going to compete- why bother if you're just going to dance?"

    Ok- I almost triggered my "Some social amateurs" rant, so I'm going to go eat my TV dinner now.l 440 calories. EEK.

    But, if you're good at something, try at all costs to hide it. Your difference, even though it's positive, will anger others. There's no place for freaks in this world, save for entertainment.
     
  5. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    actually, I thnk most of the dance world is lik the island of misfit toys...self included...pro thinks this too...and that's what we both love abot it...
     
  6. SPratt74

    SPratt74 New Member

    Are you sure it's really a dance studio lol?
     
  7. PasoDancer

    PasoDancer New Member

    Regardless of how nice people are and how good to you they might seem- never be the idiot I am and cut open, spill out, and look at something that was old and healing nicely, just for the sake of telling someone where you're coming from. Someone somewhere will take it, screw it up, and then use it as a weapon against you in grand exploitative style.

    If your relationship with your SO is either boring or rocky, don't take private lessons from someone hot and flirty. Either you'll wind up actually committing adultery, or you'll just have to deal with the sting of unrequited (either because you stink or because there's nothing that can safely be done about it) infatuation, and still be stuck with "Amos" at home.

    - If you're insecure about your body image, don't worry about it, at least too much. Focus on dancing well instead. When people watch other people dance, they're usually looking around at ALL the dancers instead of just focusing on one- IF they're paying attention to the dancers at all. Furthermore, most "hardcore" scrutineers will be looking at anything but body type- styling, footwork, lines, etc., for example.

    -If you're a beginner, DUH- don't worry about LOOKING like a beginner. If you're a pro, yeah- then you have to worry about looking like a beginner.

    - Wear comfortable stuff. Always wear comfortable stuff.

    -Carry a small sewing kit or safety pins in your shoe bag (along with shoes, deodorant, some kind of "moistened towelette wipe", like lever 2000 or Olay, a shoe brush, a small hand towel, gum or mints, a mirror, and anything else for "survival")... if something rips or tears, you can fix it, instead of leave to change or just go home. OH- clear nail polish or run stop if you wear pantyhose.

    - bring a bottle of water anywhere you go. They might have concessions, but if you have an embarassingly dry throat, you need something instant to avoid hacking, choking, and barking.

    - Practice any time you can, anywhere. At the computer: posture; in front of the fridge, basics. Turning around to get the phone- spot turn or spiral. Etc.

    - be aware of floorcraft, even from the beginning. No, people don't care if you accidentally bump them. If they do, screw them. But always remember that the only "forgivable" collision on a social floor is when two leads collide back-to-back (and even then- where were the women's Eyes during this time?). If you start to think of small "escape" routes and tactics that are actual steps, you can get not only your regular partner but also any other new follow out of tight situations. Don't be like my lead J and treat each floor like a jigsaw puzzle- weaving in and out of spots just to see if he can. LOL. Ask your teacher for "how do I get out of this scenario" solutions. If something doesn't feel right, tell them. Maybe it's something as simple as your head was turned wrong.

    -actually listen to the music. When you drive or surf the internet, listen to waltzes, foxtrots, tangos, whatever you're working on. The songs might be different for each dance, but within them, the underlying tempo is always the same- if difficult to find sometimes (bonnie portmore, anyone?). This is what keeps you from looking like the only dork on the floor pulling someone through a foxtrot when it's actually a rumba. Learn to quickly identify what can be danced to each song within three seconds or so. "Oh- that's a samba, let's go". Most newbies sit around for half the song "urh, what's that?" ... and don't think to look at the floor to see what other people are doing.

    -Don't do stuff like the 3 or 6-count walk-around (whatever it's properly called, I don't know), or something stationary in the middle of the LOD. Go to the center or the end of the floor and do it, so you don't hold up traffic.l

    (this one is just what we do- other people might think differently, so just take this as opinion) If you screw up, practice correcting things on-the-fly and continuing. Stopping just screws stuff up worse. If you have to, go somewhere and practice, and when you screw up, just try to keep on and get back on the beat with something basic. So long as you can revert to a basic and continue with that, you'll be all right.
     
  8. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    all great points paso...and let me add...even if you live with someone who is hot...be careful about who you take privates with...dance is intimate...and definately, keep your personal life to yourself
     
  9. SPratt74

    SPratt74 New Member

    Although if you are single then it shouldn't matter lol! (Sorry I just had to say it lol.) :p

    I agree with Paso too about everything! And I do agree with you too fascination especially if I were married or living with someone etc. Dance is probably the sexiest that most of us will get with other people that we don't really know well. It will bring on emotions that you've never known before. Just remember to be professional because dance is also a business. Of course there are exceptions to this rule (because it is your life after all and no one can really tell you what to do with it) but you all get the idea I think.

    Paso - I swear that you should write a beginning guidebook for dancing. You say everything all so well and straight to the point! I like that! ;)
     
  10. DennisBeach

    DennisBeach New Member


    I can understand the opinion on Paso, in 5 years of going to ballroom dances, I have heard one Paso Doble. But it does not make sense for Jive. Up tempo swing that you can do jive to is very common at the dances we go to. Also lot of the groups we encounter at fairs, weddings etc.. play a lot of up tempo swing, that would be good for jive. Also lot of the Jive moves can be done in East Coast swing for slower swing music.
     
  11. fireinflight

    fireinflight New Member

    Now, where do I find one of these sexy dance teachers to have an affair with, again? :rolleyes: (I'm single!)

    My teacher's more than twice my age, and married! Though he's a fabulous teacher, so I'm not complaining.
     
  12. SPratt74

    SPratt74 New Member

    I've learned some Jive moves, and I can say that's actually very true! I want to learn the Jive better, but I'm afraid that I won't have enough energy for it. I think that instead of instructors being cautious with their students (I mean they should be cautious but yet they should also push their students just cause some students do need pushing etc.), the students need to realize (and will realize) what they can and cannot dance to. I love the Quickstep etc., so I love fast songs. But I think that the Jive is different. So much leg movement etc. I love watching it on television though, because it is one of my favorite dances (which is why I shouldn't be so afraid to learn it)! But I know with me for instance what I can handle and what I can't handle, and I always make sure to let my instructors know if something makes me feel uncomfortable. ;)
     
  13. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    You are used to seeing the showy aspects of the dance demonstrated by people in top physical condition, or simply dancing with more abandon than care. But the elemental basic should be small, compact, efficient, and understated - it has to be at that tempo. If you can learn to be precise and not waste energy bouncing your body weight or flinging your legs around, you can learn to do the dance. Instead of needing a lot of raw energy and spreading it all over the place, you focus energy specifically where you want it and nowhere else. Then you can scale up the showiness to whatever your body is comfortable with. It shouldn't look like hard work, unless "working it" is part of the particular artistic message you want to convey - which should always come on top of expressing that simply doing the underlying dance would not cause you to break a sweat.

    (And I'm really one to talk - I refuse to do the dance, because I know what it should be well enough to recognize that what I'm doing is not it.)
     
  14. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    I see a lot of people (women especially) that think they can VW, then their poor partners end up dragging them around. And it can be dangerous, when I was trying to lead it, ran my friend and I into a mirror. (Luckily only the mirror got hurt, but we still argue over whose fault it was, one of these days she'll finally let me take all the blame!) I'll also say, when my husband and I first started learning VW and QS, we were kind of dangerous on the floor (and that wasn't until we'd been dancing for about a year, and that was a year with a lot of lessons and practice). I really think that men need some good experience navigating the dance floor with some slower moving dances. The floor may be emptier, but you have to make your decisions a smidge quicker, or you really can hurt someone. And on that note, women need some good practice following, so they can respond to the lead when he's making those quick navigation decisions. I'm not saying it can't be done by relative beginner dancers. Just that I would agree that some experience be in place before trying to tackle them.
    As for hustle, everyone should learn hustle. How else are you going to get your disco fix in?

    If the instructor is single as well.
     
  15. PasoDancer

    PasoDancer New Member

    Hmm. I'll ask about the jive. I'm just scared it's heart-attack fast. How do they teach ECS where you guys are at? It's "moderately fast" here, but at the other schools they teach it REALLY slow.

    Another "rule" I just thought of might be "if it's obvious you just aren't going to get along with someone online, just ignore them and stay away from them. Don't waste your time liking this part or that part and trading snipes at the rest. Just forget it."

    If I wrote a book, it' d just turn up on here being picked apart by all these experts, Spratt, what are you thinkin'? LOL.
     
  16. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Any leader who dances socially will eventual pick up a number of tricks for safety and smoothness with less skilled partner in VW.

    For example, today I can usually get a lady who is moving backwards and thus is ahead of me to turn where I want her to, instead of continuing in the original direction to collision with something/someone that she doesn't know is there. But that wasn't always true, and it might not be completely reliable with an unpredictable social partner today. So instead, I learned that the easiest way to lead a sharp redirect was to do it when I was going backwards - if necessasry, I could simply block my partners present path with my body, and show her a new opening to the side, redirecting our motion that way. Also, by backing into the corner, there is a brief opportunity to survey the entire floor for pending issues. In addition to a back change in Vw, this also works with a running finish in quickstep.

    Also, when dancing with a still-learning-it partner, the continuous turns in Vw can lead to an accumulation of positioning error in the hold. If something feels wierd, I'll just put in a change step and try rotating the other way, until there's an accumulation of under turn or hold stress in that direction, and then switch back. Since these changes don't have any element of redirect, they are nearly as progressive as the turns, and since they release the built up error and tension they create a dance that is more evenly flowing than trying desperately to hold one direction of turn for a phrase or side would be.

    I'm sure other guys have their own tricks - the point is that there are a collection of things that can make it possible to share a reasonably flowing Vw with a lady who probably doesn't have all the skills yet that she would need to dance it with a beginner gentleman. Since some of these were learned when we were beginner gentlemen needing to compensate for our then lack of leading ability, they might be useful to the beginner men too.
     
  17. PasoDancer

    PasoDancer New Member

    VW is one dance I would turn down with someone I didn't know well. I don't want to become a "statistic" with it. I THINK we're doing ok on just the basic stuff, but I could be very wrong.
     
  18. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    If you want to learn it, find out precisely what you need to do for a compact, minimalist basic, and then drill that rythmically but way, way, way under tempo, probably in front of the mirrors or solo at home. After a few days once your muscles have the movements, try doing it to very slow music (slower than ECS) or half-tempo to music. Then get to the point where you are doing very clean jive to ECS music, fast swing music, and finally jive music.

    When you own the action, normal music will feel slow.

    I've been doing the same process with some quickstep embellishments, and things that felt impossible just a few weeks ago are starting to be effortlessly familiar and comfortable.
     
  19. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Well, there is a lot more risk for the lady in dancing it with an unkown gentleman! Few of the safety tricks available to him are there for her.
     
  20. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    that's the whole problem, you don't have to have an affair for it to be a problem...and your marital status is no protection for attraction ...whether you are happily married or not....but that entire post if full of good advice
     

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