What Makes an Instruction Video Effective?

For those who have purchased instruction videos, what have you seen that you found to be effective to enhancing your growth in your dance and what improvements you'd like instruction videos to have?


Well-Known Member
With a video you can rewind and replay sections and if your VCR has this feature it can be replayed in slow motion for better detail.
There was one dvd I had which played the sequences in normal, front and side view, mirrored.......and auto replay. I can't remember offhand the title but he name was Elder Sanchez. He teaches London. It was a good ideas especially for beginners.
I enjoyed the Al & edie "salsa freak" dvd's too, especially the ones for men's spins. With those tips I learned to spin.
swing4life said:
For those who have purchased instruction videos, what have you seen that you found to be effective to enhancing your growth in your dance and what improvements you'd like instruction videos to have?
<Insert standard westie disclaimer here>

Now in my own twisted mind there's a distinction to be drawn between growth and understanding. Growth comes from practice, understanding follows from instruction. Aerobics vs reading, if you will.

So what would a growth dance video be like? I imagine it would resemble an exercise program - that gets you out of the chair and dancing while the video is playing. The picture is there, but mostly as a crutch - the audio is the primary communication channel during the activity. The material might be a long choreographed sequence which begins to feel more natural each time you move through it.

I've got about 20 instructional videos in my collection (featuring 5 or 6 different teachers/couples). None of them are like that. If I saw one like what I described, it would not be purchased by me.

If a video doesn't make you dance, then you aren't going to learn from it, simply because learning dance requires putting in the reps, and getting the thousands of mistakes out of your system. Furthermore, the medium is unidirectional - you aren't going to get any feedback.

So what role can a video play in your development? Well, within its limits, it can communicate the ideas which are to be understood. I think this makes a pretty fair litmus test; those features of the video which improve communication are good, those which do not are bad.

With that in mind, here's my list
1) Lighting - being able to see the movement is kind of central to a video format. Just switching on the lights in the back studio won't do.

2) Sound - music and voice levels have to be correct. If the microphones can't deliver a steady signal, you've got issues

3) Floor pattern - the relative positions of support are difficult to pick up when the floor offers no visual cues

4) Costume - the camera has to be able to distinguish the movements, so no frills, and colors must contrast with shadow

5) Costume 2 - distinct colors for lead and follower - I should be able to distinguish the dancers with my glasses off

6) Script - prepare and learn the words in advance, use takes until you get them right.

7) Gender - men demonstrate leaders part, women demonstrate followers part. Sexist, I'm sure, but clarity trumps political correctness

8) Voice - leaders instruction goes with the leader's voice, followers instruction with the followers voice.

9) Voice over - devastatingly effective. Instead of showing a movement once and then describing it, show it several times while the voice over describes it.

10) Camera - use the advantages of the camera. Closer angles, show the movement from several angles at once. How about an overhead view of the movement (not applicable for aerials instruction. ow)

11) Graphics - show the music, show the foot pattern, following the bouncing feet as the pattern is danced. Have Madden diagram the swingout

Yes, I'm aware that applying these guidelines is a lot more expensive than standing in front of a video camera and teaching your regular group class. The list is improvements I'd like to see, rather than improvements I think are practical.

The closest I've seen anyone come is Mary Ann Nuñez; check out the stills that show how the video format can be used.
Do you think it helps in addition to the instruction tape/dvd that a book or pamphlet that explains the more conceptual aspects (musicality and hitting the breaks, lines, etc.) of the dance be helpful as well?

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