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Re: teaching beginners
Posted by socialdancer
5/6/2014  7:42:00 AM
I agree it may be too early for the back lock and running finnish particularly because of the outside partner work required.

One combination that proves popular with beginners and gives them a feeling really dancing around the corner is tipple chasse to L, tipple chasse to R and lock step ending. Different societies/technique books break this down in different ways. The ISTD would describe it as just a half natural turn and tipple chasse to Right at a corner, whereas Guy Howard breaks it into smaller pieces, but the effect is the same.
Re: teaching beginners
Posted by quickstep7
5/7/2014  4:33:00 AM
Good question. If you want to open with standard ballroom I would begin with the quickstep and a very simple routine consisting of:

1) Quarter turn to the right
2) Forward lock
3) Natural turn

Then I would move onto the waltz, which although slower and may seem easier, I feel requires a lot more attention and control:

1) Basic (forward and back)
2) Whisk
3) Chasse
4) Natural Turn (and if time natural spin turn and weave and wing but might be a bit too far).

Foxtrot and Tango would certainly be a bit too far for a first session.

If on the other hand, Latin American is the choice then I would start with Cha Cha Cha and if time potentially a Jive.
Cha Cha Cha might be tricky rhythmically but in my opinion is the easiest to teach to a complete beginner:

1) Basic cha cha (forward and back)
2) New York
3) Spot Turn

Jive on the other hand:

1) Basic Jive
2) Change of direction
3) Change of hands behind the back
4) Stop and Go

You can try Rumba and Samba, but I feel these need more control and therefore more time to teach properly then you have.

Hope this is useful.
Re: teaching beginners
Posted by phil.samways
5/8/2014  4:09:00 AM
Thanks for all the helpful replies from everybody. The first two sessions have gone really well and the feedback is excellent. Some of them have had lessons previously. With these in quickstep we're doing quarter turn to right, progressive chasse, forward lock into a spin turn, progressive chasse, start again. The spin turn is a bit rough round the edges but manageable. The complete beginners are just working on the quarter turn, progressive chasse and box step, natural turn, reverse turn with links in slow waltz.
One thing that is clear from the basic slow waltz pattern is the difficulty they have with rotations. Without making it too complicated, I'm starting to introduce the slightly more experienced dancers to the concept of 'opening the door' for their partner and allowing them past and that they must think of going past instead of round their partners.
We had great fun in cha-cha. There are (as always) a lot of ladies without partners. We all held hands in a line and got a good chant going as we danced the very basic "back replace cha-cha-cha, forward replace cha-cha-cha" etc.
I'm a great believer in developing good technique early to avoid bad habits and giving them exercises as homework (I live in hope!)I explained the latin hip action as best i can, and gave them a 'walking exercise' which i picked up at a latin workshop once.
I'd welcome all comments and suggestions, especially on the best way to introduce good technique and any homework exercises.
Re: teaching beginners
Posted by nloftofan1
5/9/2014  8:02:00 AM
You mention the difficulty beginners have with rotations. This may have to do with concentrating on feet (you know that you can't do it all with your feet, but beginners don't; they have to get past the "Which foot do I move next and where do I put it?" stage).

One of our local instructors frequently tells beginners (humorously) that "Everything in dance is simple until you start to turn." And he's right. The question is: Why?

If the GPS in your car says "Drive two-tenths of a mile and turn left," you do it--no problem. But if the dance instructor says "... turn left," half the class turns right--or freezes. I asked a friend who is a psychiatrist why so many beginning dancers have this kind of mental block, and he had some general ideas (lots of things to think of at once). Do any of you reading this have some ideas?
Re: teaching beginners
Posted by Voco
5/10/2014  12:19:00 AM

Hi nloftofan1,

RE: But if the dance instructor says:... turn left," half the class turns right--or freezes. I asked a friend who is a psychiatrist

When you give instruction for rotating to beginners you have to explain that you mean which shoulder is going to move back. A right rotation in dance is totally different than turning with a car to the right. You dont need a psychiatrist in my humble opinion.
Re: teaching beginners
Posted by nloftofan1
5/11/2014  11:01:00 AM
My observation is that--even after the dance instructor tries to explain how to turn left or right (outside of dancing, most people have NO problem knowing how: walking, driving, riding a bicycle, whatever), beginning dancers frequently do it wrong. I asked my psychiatrist friend if he had any idea why they have this difficulty.

Dance instructors often say that dancing is simply walking to music. (True, you usually don't have another person in front of you, moving backward when you move forward and vice versa. Is this a contributing factor?) Most people have no trouble knowing when they are turning right or left when they walk, so why do they have trouble when they dance?
Re: teaching beginners
Posted by nloftofan1
5/12/2014  9:28:00 AM
The mystery (to me, anyway) is why people have this problem. Yes, turning right (or left) when dancing involves a different set of actions than turning when driving a car (or walking, or riding a bicycle, or plotting a route to Grandma's house). But in all those other cases people don't have trouble understanding WHICH WAY to turn. So why do so many beginning dancers turn right when the dance instructor says "Turn left," and have no idea they've turned the wrong way?

That's why I asked a psychiatrist.
Re: teaching beginners
Posted by Voco
5/13/2014  1:19:00 AM
Hi nloftofan1,

RE: the mystery of understanding the direction of turning

So what did the shrink say?

I still say that if you relate the turning to shoulder movements, they will follow it 99%.

Many years ago, I observed a very experienced dance teacher, now retired, used that method when explaining the Natural and Reverse Turns. All students in the group class followed his instructions correctly.
Re: teaching beginners
Posted by O.K.
6/2/2014  3:24:00 AM
nioftofan 1. Students not able to turn in the right direction. With a class of complete beginners I think it is not wise to teach in the same evening the Waltz where we step forward right foot and turn to the right for a Natural Turn. Then later teach the Cha Cha where we step with the right foot and turn to our left for a Spot Turn. What I do recommend is a succession of steps consisting of, starting on the right side of the hall. Step left foot and swivel to the left 1/4 of a turn. Then step right and swivel a 1/4 turn to the right and keep going until you run out of room. If you think they can do it. Do two 1/4 turns followed by two 1/8 of a turn.
Re: teaching beginners
Posted by terence2
5/10/2014  4:24:00 AM

Hi Phil...pleased things went well for you.

I would suggest however, that, Cuban motion would be low down on priorities for beginners .

Developing partnerwork, like transitions, would be ( and is ) high on my list for beginners, no matter the dance being taught.

I recently had a student from Germany, danced salsa for 3yrs, and had got hung up on CM, and yet, had some balance problems plus Frame and Poise issues ( Never seems to be addressed in W/shops ! ? ) .Now, obviously, she needed the CM problem resolved long before the time danced, which begs the question..

WHEN is the right time ?..I always judge this on the abilities of the student(s), and probably discuss its relevance early on, with the caveat, give it time to develop .

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