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ok how long does it really take..............
Posted by zeke22
4/29/2012  8:19:00 PM
Have been reading a few threads here as well as checking the internet. This place looks best for information and hope some advice can be given.

Have always been reticent to attempt dancing. Fearful of attempting even at a wedding but had always wanted to be in on the secret so walked into a dance studio. Arthur Murray. I've had my first lesson and have done the 4 private lesson intro and attended the group / practice sessions twice weekly for the last 5 weeks and have also signed on for another 4 privates to be taken over the next month. The beginning of a "pre bronze" plan that is to be complete at the end of a total of 25 privates augmented with a group / practice session weekly for a total of 75 45 minute segments. (doing an extra group / practice weekly so will be at 125 segments if able to make all) So far. I've received value in that at least the trepidation regarding even attempting has disipated and could manage a simple waltz or do a "very" basic foxtrot / rumba /in a pinch and have a passing familiarity with tango / meringue / east coast swing (at least enough to recognize them when watching though participation without a teacher ......another story)

Wondering if I have just bitten off more than I can chew. I like the looks of what others can do but it seems the possibility of my achieving anything more than basic is unlikely without amping up the effort to an extent that may well be untenable cost or effort wise.

I do enjoy it but if there isn't a radical improvement in shorter order than at present it seems I may be better off just going to a group class here and there to see where it leads. Maybe a specific dance being focused on weekly or some such thing. The way I now see it now, it would be better to join with a partner and practice / progress together. With the cost of private lessons it seems necessary to practice between lessons or the cost is prohibitive. If it starts to seem like expensive pre paid taxi dancing I'll leave it alone anyway but would like to know if it is truly possible to be proficient going about things the way I've described and if so, over what time frame should I be looking at on the schedule mentioned.

I'd also like to know what portion of the populace knows these dances. Am I going to end up at a wedding and not be able to use anything but the basics anyway.

Thanks in advance

Re: ok how long does it really take..............
Posted by anymouse
4/29/2012  10:13:00 PM
In terms of how long it takes, realize that there are sort of two direction you can go in:

a) You can learn a lot of dance "steps", or as we call them figures. Your main challenge will be the complexity of the material

b) You can learn fewer figures, but work more on really mastering how they work

Most of the retail-style studios both for private lessons and groups (and even most group classes in other settings) concentrate on the first method - presenting lots of material. That's because it's fairly easy to teach steps, it's easy to measure progress ("well, he learn steps 10-15 from the syllabus this month") and it's easy to train teachers in this material - for someone with moderate command of their body, it's mostly about memorization.

The other approach - quality over quantity - is less marketed to the public, but it ends up matching the personal work habits of any dancer who makes a real career of it. Sure, a top amateur or professional competitor might know countless figures, but most of their effort is on the quality of execution. In terms of mastering that, there are really only maybe a dozen major sorts of body actions per dance style that consume most of their attention - the diversity of figures is just a bunch of clever ways to combine those and slap a convenient name on the result. They spend months, then years on these key concepts, and rarely need to put more than a short burst of effort here or there into memorizing the steps.

Which path is right for you depends on things like what sort of training is available, your budget, your goals - and most importantly, what appeals to you personally. If you like memorizing material, then you can learn a lot of variety. If you like understanding and striving for quality of movement, then try to focus only on the basics for the first year or two - but make sure you have a teacher who really knows them inside and out (anyone who tries to talk you out of that, or uses the "boring" word clearly does not).

You asked about dancing at events in society outside of the dance world. Mostly you will get to use your basics, though in some dances - swing, salsa, etc, if you are the leader you may find that there are a lot of variety figures you can use that don't really challenge a follower you are dancing with. Unfortunately, a lot of the other material you will learn really will only work with someone who is at least "ready for it" in that their body is comfortable with the constituent motions. And sadly, a lot of what gets taught in classes is just not very good material - it does not flow logically from one position to another and as a result it may *only* work with someone who was in the same class as you.

The real question to always keep in mind is: am I learning to dance? Or am I learning to pay for lessons?

Additionally, while lessons from a good teacher are an important component, if you really want to master dancing you will need experience dancing outside of classes with one or more of your peers. This can also help you increase your dance time - dancing several days a week will be much more effective than just one or two. It's one thing to be able to do something with a teacher, another to do it with a friend (and best of all when it flows nicely with someone you never met before!) Ideally your outside practice between classes would be enough to get to feel like you have tried to apply what you learned, but not so much that you start to mistrust your memory (or worse, your partner's opinion!) of how it was taught in class.

The conclusion from all of this, is that how long it takes depends on what you want to do, and if what you end up doing is an effective route to your goals. If you concentrated on the minimum number of steps to have something you could do for each of a half dozen major dances, and practiced those regularly with peers outside of class, then in maybe 12 weeks (encompassing maybe 24 group or private lessons, and 36 hours of peer practice) you should be able to feel like dancing is something you can really do with some earned confidence. (though you will of course be hyper aware of many ways in which you want to improve) On the other hand, if you only dance in lessons and always feel like you are struggling to catch up with the pace of presentation, you could take hundreds of lessons and not really end up with the confidence to do anything.
Re: ok how long does it really take..............
Posted by zeke22
4/29/2012  10:44:00 PM
Finally someone with a timeline. I think the pre bronze could be done in the 2 wmonths myself if I maintain he schedule Im currently on as described above. You'''re saying 12 privates and.24 group with 36 hours at a dance. well that is 72 hours. Perhaps in a couple more lesson4 i'LL TRY A DANCE ON FOR SIZE.
too bad it won"t be handy in the outside world. This is so very foreign to me and seems to have such a rabid following it seems cult like to me now thatI"m seeingit. It is a great deal of fun already and is also most certainly, humbling
Re: ok how long does it really take..............
Posted by dancewithu2
4/30/2012  3:27:00 AM
Actual you may end up not even be able to do basics steps; the floor get to crowded with people just swaying to slow songs and jumping up n down to fast swing and hustle songs. You usually DO get to dance early on and there might be a couple or two on the floor with . Basics should do you well.

Learning. I prefer private studies and teachers to the big chains. But one thing I
do strongly recommend is going to other dance venues. Look for community based dances and dances giving by dance societies/clubs.
Re: ok how long does it really take..............
Posted by belleofyourball
4/30/2012  12:29:00 PM

I'm glad you are starting to dance but there really isn't a way to break this down into cost and numbers. Each person learns differently and each has their strengths and weaknesses. When I started that was what I wanted to know more than anything because I'm not rich but still wanted to be good.

I started dancing at Fred Astaire moved to dancing with an independent studio and then worked at an Arthur Murray for awhile. I am still dancing with my independent studio...but Arthur Murray slowed things down and wanted me to dumb down my instruction and I won't do it.

The magic on learning to dance isn't hours and prepaid lessons at the dance studio. The real progress comes from a lot of practice on your own...working on your core...and searching out a qualified dance instructor. I am not saying you don't have one where you are at. I am saying there is a very good chance that you don't have one. They don't give new students great instructors. They give them great salespeople who have memorized a bunch of figures have a pat memorized script for teaching them and have no idea what it means to actually dance.

You need to spend some time researching reputations and finding an outlet for good instructors in your area. It took me a long time to find a good instructor. They should be able to dance well and teach well.

If you can find one get a partner and begin doing group classes together. Know that you will be learning from one another and teaching one another. Take classes from the best people you can find. The top dancers in the US often do group classes for as little as $25 a class. You just need to plug in and figure out where they are. You learn a lot and practice alot and don't freak out when the mistakes happen...they happen.

Know that even after years and years you can still work to perfect the so called 'basics.' Dance should be fun and exhilerating and you just can't credibly break it down into a timeline.

I have been dancing a number of years and it has taken me a really long time to get where I am. Some dances come easily and some are hard. Some people learn very quickly and for others its a struggle. DOn't buy into the sales pressure and dance because you love dancing. Meet your goals not your sales persons quota for the month.
Re: ok how long does it really take..............
Posted by dancingdude321
4/30/2012  12:50:00 PM
you decide how long it's going to take but it comes down to this. Time and money.

the time part of the equation is how often you going to practice. The money part is the equation is how often you will get lessons.

I started dancing at the age of 50 three and a half years ago and I have 1 my way to competitions in dance sport from bronze to championship level.

it really comes down to commitment.here's what I would suggest, what has worked for me. First of all absolute requirement is you find a dance partner who is as committed to the process as you are. no easy task let me tell you.

I tried group classes and I tried private lessons, my experience is that private lessons are the way to go if you wish to improve quickly.
Re: ok how long does it really take..............
Posted by ladydance
4/30/2012  1:20:00 PM
As everyone has stated there is no timeline to learning to dance. There is a steep learning curve. For a long time you struggle, learning the basic steps, learning to lead or follow, learning partnership skills, floorcraft and the list goes on. One day something clicks and you no longer have difficulty remembering steps, everything becomes easier and for awhile, you learn quickly. Then you hit a wall and learning slows to a crawl. I have danced for eight years and figure I have had 650 hours of group and private instruction. I want to be the best dancer I can be. Many women I know though, only learn to do the basics around the floor and want their partner to forcefully lead them into anything more difficult. These women are heavy and unresponsive and most men who are good dancers don't like dancing with them. I don't want that so I work on myself, I learn my steps, work on my body position etc. It's up to you to figure out your reason for dancing and learn as much as you want or can afford. Be aware, dancing can become very addictive!
If you attend dance events you will become a better dancer. Dancing takes practice. A steady partner is the best. In North America, social ballroom dancers are the exception not the norm and so if you go to a 'dance' you might not meet anyone who can actually dance. But if you go to a 'ballroom dance' everyone is expected to know the basics and there will be plenty of partners.
Re: ok how long does it really take..............
Posted by zeke22
4/30/2012  7:09:00 PM
Thanks everyone.
The partner seems key as mentioned by acouple of you and as i perceive early on in this process. If regular dances don't have dancers small wonder I've never been comfortable. It will mean I'll have to venture yet further from my comfort zone and find some ballroom dances even just to watch. I have contacted another independant for a privatelesson and she has tuesday / thursday group lessons each focusing on a specific dance for 6-8weeks starting in a month so may do both studios for a while. I do think this will be difficult without a partner though.
Maybe I can manage to get passable doing it the way I am and find someone who wants to try it out later. Thanks again and yes it is addicting.
Re: ok how long does it really take..............
Posted by anymouse
5/1/2012  6:01:00 PM
Parties have their place, but even more productive is to ask someone from a group class to meet up some other weeknight or before or after the class and practice together. That is to a potential partnership what "going for coffee" is to a non-dance relationship.

If that goes well (or if you feel like going right for it) then you can share a private lesson. Its fairly customary to split the cost evenly.
Re: ok how long does it really take..............
Posted by zeke22
6/22/2012  6:28:00 PM
3 months in now and have taken 12 privates, twice weekly group and twice weekly practice at the first studio (arthur murray) and go to two other studios for group and a couple of privates at one of them. Have worked up to nine hours a week over six evenings.
All studios are different in that some are slow and methodical with others doling out intricate figures before capable. Which I do want. It may well be that the studios give more than ready for just to keep clientele like me happy.
It is going well
. I can do a few things and do see much to learn. it isn''t going to take a month like I thought going in the door that first time lol!
Re: ok how long does it really take..............
Posted by Ladydance
6/24/2012  5:09:00 AM
I'm glad everything is going well, but a word of warning. You are, in my opinion, making a rookie mistake, by running all over town taking lessons at different studios. You will get conflicting info and if the emphasis is different at different places, you may miss or ignore critical info. I would not attempt intricate figures until you have the basics down cold and your technique is solid. Intricate figures executed by someone with poor or no technique looks terrible and fools no one. As well, no woman can follow a hard pattern unless they know their steps and it is lead extemely well. You need to work on posture, always an ongoing problem. Head back, neck in collar, elbows in front of your body. Do not lead with your arms or your top. Many men lean forward with their head, body or both to lead a figure. Footwork is extremely important. Do you know if you step with heel or a toe. Where is the body and/or foot rise? In a rush to get dancing, beginners blow all this info off and get bad habits that are hard to break.For example: One man at our studio started dancing standard looking straight at his partner, scrunched over, elbows down. Now he can't break himself of this habit and doesn't even realize he is doing it. Looks terrible. He was learning silver level stuff until the owner of the studio, pulled the instructor aside and told him to go back to basics until their technique improves.
Re: ok how long does it really take..............
Posted by dheun
6/24/2012  5:27:00 PM
It could be a lifetime of learning, so as long as you are having fun, that's the key element. Unless you do this professionally, life will tend to get in the way on occasion and keep you off the dance floor. I took a new job a year ago now, and have been out to dance only twice in that entire time, as compared to going a couple times a week at least for the past several years. And doing it constantly when I was younger. So it is a lifetime skill, one that you may have dust off the shelf on occasion. But it's a lot better than never having done it or learned this skill to begin with. You sound like a person cramming for a final exam in going to so many places and taking so many lessons. I agree with the post about it may be a "rookie" mistake going to so many places, however there could be a positive side to that as well -- it won't take long to figure out which studio you really belong at.
Re: ok how long does it really take..............
Posted by BallroomChick
6/25/2012  11:41:00 AM
My question would be, why do you need a time line? Your not going to a wedding or a competition right off. Take the time line off your agenda. Why put unnecessary pressure on yourself? This is for YOUR fun and health. Everyone learns at a different rate, this has been stated. At the beginning there is a TON of info to absorb. Enjoy the journey you are on.

Think about what your goals really are for dancing. Going out Fri or Sat night social dancing at the local studios or centers. Generally only Bronze level is needed, few social dancers know silver (or many silver level) patterns. Technicality is not all that important. Most of these dancers "jell" the moves/steps. (they are not crisp like competition moves)

Do you think there is any possibility you might want to take your dancing further - say doing showcases or competitions? It matters who you take with then.

As was stated earlier, going to every Tom, Dick and Harry giving lessons is way too many cooks in the kitchen and it spoils the souffle. Just because someone hangs a shingle out saying they are a dance instructor does NOT mean they are competent.

You sound like your are sorely lacking confidants. I know the feeling, I was there TWICE! (Once when I started out and later I lost it through a series of "bad events.") The last time I used Arthur Murry to help gain mine back, BUT, you will pay for their highly sugar coated boosters. AND they love their 40 min lesson plans. Get what you can from them and move on once your achieve your goal. More times than not you can get more for your money with an independent instructor. While you are absorbing what you can form A.M., research dance instructors. If you are in the U.S. - USA Dance is a good place to start. You can find social dances all over the place through them. Check out any local ballroom dance competitions in your area. Try Googling Dancesport Competitions. Buy and program and take note of the instructors and who's students are winning. What better place to get phone numbers/e-mail addresses?

When I was researching the instructor I've been with for 4 years now. I watched a lot of dance lessons and how the instructors worked. It amazed me - from over hearing an instructor telling couples taking lessons he didn't know what they were doing wrong in their dance steps, to an instructor not bothering doing patterns with his student, but she was to "get the move" with him walking in front of her the entire hour. (It was a pattern with other students in his weekly lessons.)

I watched how instructors presented their students in showcases. Apparently for some, the showcase was more about the instructor than the student/s. (one or two instructors out danced the student)

This is a fun hobby, but you do have to do a little home work to make sure your on the right path for your needs. Also you meet so many great people along the way!

Re: ok how long does it really take..............
Posted by Quickstep7
6/26/2012  11:09:00 PM
How long does it take. Answer. You never stop learning. Former British and World Latin Champion Karen Hardy. As a co-commentator on a Dance Contest Televised
( which I still have ) was asked. How long must I continue practising Rumba Walks. For ever she answered.
Re: ok how long does it really take..............
Posted by zeke22
7/1/2012  10:27:00 PM
All fair comment. I do have my studio of choice. It's the mama bear of the 3 bears tale. Going to the others for extra time / practice. Still having fun. D lack confidence but coming along
Re: ok how long does it really take..............
Posted by zeke22
7/26/2013  5:53:00 PM
An update on last years post..........
I have continued with injury interruptions since last March and thoroughly enjoy it!
I've continued going to multiple studios (now five) and find them all to be beneficial for their instruction and for their availability to provide options on different nights.
Also for the variety in partners for the chance to check to see if I can actually lead by taking a figure from one place to another.
I have a couple of partners to take lessons with and attend two studio dances weekly for practice.

I've progressed to being able to made it through 9 or 10 different dances I'd say with some modest level of proficiency in 5.

Taking Bronze 1 and 2 classes now. Doing up to 12 hours a week when able (and uninjured).

I do need both knees replaced and have a bad back so am compromised but can still manage most of the time. Lost 4 months completely and dipped my toes back in for a couple months before getting back at it.

Certainly glad to have started and intend to continue as long as possible.

It's seems to be a throwback activity from a different age.

All the people I've met are gracious and polite. From all walks of life and all ages. I understand some of the comments made in response to my post of last year much better now.
One unanticipated note. I now tell friends what I doing and they all think I'm just grazing for women..............Is that a common response?
Re: ok how long does it really take..............
Posted by nloftofan1
7/27/2013  4:47:00 PM
In reply to your question (One unanticipated note. I now tell friends what I doing and they all think I'm just grazing for women..............Is that a common response?), Gene Kelly said he took up dancing to meet girls.

Other people have mentioned this, but remember the old joke: Tourist in New York to native—"How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" Native's answer—"Practice." If you don't practice it doesn't matter how many lessons you take. You're wasting your money. That's when you find out (preferably with continuing advice from an instructor) what it actually takes to make your body do what your instructor teaches, or what someone at a party showed you, or what you learned from a video. A general rule of thumb in dancing is that if you are having to work hard, you're probably doing it wrong. Practice also helps you remember the details, both in your head and "muscle memory."
Re: ok how long does it really take..............
Posted by ladydance
7/28/2013  8:55:00 AM
Sounds like you have found a system that works for you. As for friends thinking you are "grazing for women", nothing you can do about that. North Americans have weird ideas about dancing. My husband was talking to co-workers and they were amazed and appalled that he dances with other women at parties. They continued to be shocked at the notion that I have a competitive partner and that I go to comps with him! Several of the women said they would love to learn how to dance but their husbands won't and they won't allow them to dance with other men. I have tried to explain that dancing, while intimate, is not sexual. Men are very threatened by dancing and will always try to make it unseemly.
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