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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
Thanks.
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
Zeke,

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.

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