Ballroom Dance > Which Certification Organization Is Best?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by noahpocalypse, Sep 28, 2017.

  1. noahpocalypse

    noahpocalypse New Member

    By 'best' I mean to ask which organization is most respected/is the hardest/requires the most technique to be demonstrated. I'm looking at the list of "Certifying Organizations of the National Dance Council" on the NDCA website.

    For your convenience, here is the list:
    • Arthur Murray International (AMI)
    • Dance Teachers Club of Boston (DTCB)
    • Dance Vision International Dancers Assoc. (DVIDA)
    • Fred Astaire Dance of North America (FADS)
    • National Dance Teachers Assoc. (NADTA)
    • North American Dance Teachers Assoc., Inc. (NADTA)
    • Pan American Teachers of Dancing (PAN AM)
    • U.S. Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (USISTD)
    • U.S. Terpsichore Assoc., Inc. (USTA)
    I don't intend to declare myself a pro any time soon, I'm just thinking ahead. With a little bit of study I think I could definitely pass a silver certification for American and International style. Here's the impression I've gotten of each organization:

    Arthur Murray International (AMI)- I've heard a few horror stories about this franchise, but I've also heard that a few of these studios have good instructors. There aren't any around me so they're not really an option anyway.
    Dance Teachers Club of Boston (DTCB)- I'm a long way from Boston.
    Dance Vision International Dancers Assoc. (DVIDA)- I have the DVIDA syllabus app on my phone. I don't really like the way their steps are organized, and I have no interest in "American samba" or merengue. DVIDA seems to be the most common certification right now though.
    Fred Astaire Dance of North America (FADS)- I've heard horror stories about some of these studios as well, but again there may be a few studios with good teachers, and I've never been in one myself. None around me, so not an option anyway.
    National Dance Teachers Assoc. (NADTA)- Don't know anything about this.
    North American Dance Teachers Assoc., Inc. (NADTA)- Don't know anything about this.
    Pan American Teachers of Dancing (PAN AM)- Don't know anything about this.
    U.S. Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (USISTD)- I've heard their syllabus is quite out of date, and a quick glance shows why. As an example, they have the throwaway oversway in their silver patterns.
    U.S. Terpsichore Assoc., Inc. (USTA)- This is the organization my instructor was certified by. I looked through the member list and there are some high profile dancers there. Arunas Bizokas and Katusha Demidova, Toni Redpath and Michael Mead, Shirley Ballas, a few other names I recognized but already forgot.

    Anyone have any thoughts on the merits of getting certified by these various organizations? The two I'm looking at most are USTA because of loyalty to/idolization of my instructor and the big names associated with the group, and DVIDA because I think that'd be the most convenient. Other people around me are studying for a DVIDA certification, so we could work together.

    Disclaimer: I mean no offense toward any studio by any of the comments above, I'm just providing all the information that I've heard. And I've heard some bad things about a few franchise studios. Not saying all franchises are bad or anything. Just saying that some studio owners are less ethical than others.
  2. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    why does the throwaway oversway in silver signify an out of date syllabus? Asking for a friend lol. Actually, asking for ME.
    Requiem likes this.
  3. noahpocalypse

    noahpocalypse New Member

    Throwaway oversway is explicitly forbidden in silver in the USA Dance or NDCA syllabi, which is what most non-franchise American comps use.
    Requiem and RiseNFall like this.
  4. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Lots of these teaching orgs do not have their own syllabus... So you may be studying from one org but testing wth another.

    And none if the teaching syllabi match up 100% with the NDCA's competition syllabus. So if you really feel that something like a throwaway in silver is a deal breaker then you severely limited with choices. As an invigilator I can't tell you have many times I go talk to a teacher "hey ya know that snap underarm turn is not bronze right...?" And their response is "Yes it is! I just saw it on the XYZ video." My answer every time "yes but we are not an XYZ competition, we are at an NDCA comp."
    RiseNFall likes this.
  5. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    I singled out these 2 because they are the most prominent for different reasons.
    ISTD.. a world wide Org. estab. in the UK .And, the 1st UK Soc to visit and examine in the States .They specialise in Intern style only( and now Salsa ), but the Amer. style has been under scrutiny for many years ( don't expect any changes in the near future ) .

    NADTA.. One of the first truly Amer. formed Soc. It tends to follow the concepts of the English main stream Soc.They do examine in both Intern and Amer. style ( I was an examiner for this Soc. for many years ).

    There are 2 other English Soc. that are older than all.. IDTA and the UKA I also belong to both of these .They are also recognised world wide and do examine primarily in the UK and Europe .

    As to degree of difficulty, they are all pretty stringent when coming to tests for Prof. There are some slight differences in content but essentially much the same for exam purposes.

    The chain studios are a hit and miss when coming to staff. There some excellent ones and others who are average . Both good for social learning thru Bronze levels .
  6. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Your are looking for a new employer, but you confused the purpose of a teacher organization, it´s

    -legal assistance
    -didactical inspiration
    -advice in economic questions
    -formation and representation of interests
    -cross linking with other countries
  7. noahpocalypse

    noahpocalypse New Member

    @Larinda McRaven I know not every organization has their own syllabus, so I'll have to pick a syllabus to test eventually. I didn't explicitly say so because I know that some orgs require certification with their own syllabus like DVIDA, while some allow you to pick from several American syllabi, and I haven't ruled out DVIDA yet.

    The throwaway was just a (ahem) throwaway example of the oddities of the USISTD syllabus. Here are some more: oversway is bronze in tango. One of the gold tango patterns is just viennese crosses into contra check and an aerial ronde, that's exactly what I did in silver at my last comp. Bronze mambo has a spiral. Silver bolero has the Eros line. Same foot lunge is silver in rumba. Forward spot turn/reverse top is bronze in rumba. These are fairly substantial differences from the USA Dance and NDCA syllabi.

    @tangotime I'm familiar with the ISTD, I have their ballroom and latin books. If the opportunity arises they seem to be a respectable org who I'd be proud to say I was certified by, but I don't think any of their examiners live in East Tennessee. I hadn't found anything on the NADTA, so thanks. I've heard before that it doesn't really matter who you're certified by, but I thought I'd ask the forums to see if anyone had any differing opinions.

    @opendoor I'm not looking for an employer- I don't particularly care about being a member of a teaching society, unless anyone here thinks that would be useful. I really just want to be able to say "hey, I've been certified by ____ dance organization through the fellow level" and for that to actually mean something. I want a credible certification I can flash at prospective studios and/or students.

    Thanks for your replies everyone.
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    They do travel to Tenn. Ask locally if they know of a pending visit . Peter Eggeleton has examined there in the past but not sure if he has retired .

    You could achieve the same/similar goal by taking syl. exams ( in dance only ) thru all the medal test levels .
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 29, 2017
  9. QMSF

    QMSF Member

    In my experience, in working in the ballroom industry the existence of your credentials is more important than the exact specifics of them. I started with DVIDA, worked at studios where most people used Arthur Murray and have familiarized myself pretty extensively with ISTD. You're not joining a religion--you're taking a test that actually doesn't truly prove a whole lot about your ability to be effective, substantive or successful. It's just a handy benchmark using essentially a basic toolkit to bridge the gap until you have a rock-solid foundation. See what test you can most conveniently take by way of finding an examiner and partner and rip off the band-aid. Maybe go to one of those training camps so you can familiarize yourself with the language and presentation style. Get it out of the way and realize it will only be a fraction of what someone should know.
    Requiem, Larinda McRaven and Borazine like this.

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