no subject Posted by brdSteven 7/1/2007 12:07:00 PM
"my instructor wont show me any routines, just one step per lesson without linking it into other steps to form a short routine."
Seems to me the mistake your instructor is really making is not helping you see that what you think you want is bad for you.
A dancer with good fundamental skills - including leading - can put any number of single patterns together in ways that are interesting and fun for both himself and his partner; he can create a unique experience each time he steps on the floor. This is a gentleman a lady will look forward to dancing with.
A dancer with poor skills but possessing a collection of "short routines" will tend to use the same material in the same way every time, with unimaginative basic steps acting as filler. The result can be pretty tedious.
Imho, a private lesson should not be wasted on showing how various patterns can be used in combination - group classes are better for that. Instead, a private lesson is best used to do what cannot be done in a group class - professional diagnoses and treatment of what needs improvement in an individual's own dance fundamentals. It could be posture, balance, lead/follow, timing, styling ... but rarely should it be about mere choreography.
When you get right down to it, the choreography that comes with signing up for a Showcase is essentially a way to put an exciting wrapper around very intensive work on the fundamentals. The student should be a better dancer after going through the process, but not because of knowing "a routine".
My dance teacher does the same thing. She will not teach me anything, not even one step. I have been taking lessons for 6 months and I am still doing the box steps for the dances.
I thought I would get something out of the group lessons but the group lessons are even worse than my private. We work on how to do the box step in waltz.
I feel the same way as others, that milking the student is all my teachers do.
Ideally, I agree with you that the showcase should wrap everything we have worked on together and polish everything for a show. But in reality, it is quite the opposite.
In reality, my friends and I agree that it is being used to manipulate us into taking more packages. If we don't buy more packages, then we are black listed.
We are writing here to let management eventually get the word that we are not taking it anymore and that we are going elsewhere for lessons.
no subject Posted by diskman50 7/6/2007 3:26:00 PM
The goal of AM studios is just like any other business, maximize their profit. I don't have a problem with this as long as it's a win win situation. I suffered from the same problems in the beginning as every new student, I was taught a few steps but couldn't complete a short two minute dance in any of them. In one of my private lessons I just told my instructor that I wanted her to put together a short cha cha routine so I could complete one dance. I wrote down the steps as we practiced them and walked away feeling that I got my monies worth from that lesson. I think you have to make your intentions clear to the studio when you sign your contract. In my case I wanted to learn social dancing and wasn't interested in showcases or competition. Every Medal Ball or competition that comes around I'm asked to participate but am never pressed when I decline. At the end of the day keep in mind that you are the consumer in a free marketplace. You may feel that you are at a disadvantage because you are not progressing as you burn off your lessons. This is a good reason not to sign lengthly contracts until you are comfortable with the studio and your instructor. Whether you realize it or not you are in complete control even though the studio would have you believe otherwise.
no subject Posted by Arhtur Murray Student 7/6/2007 9:08:00 PM
I have been a sudent for over ten years in the Arhtur Murray dance stdudio, and I know the teachers only recomend the best thing for their students. Some other people may tell you otherwise,however, most of those people either could not afford to take lessons at Arthur Murray or may be mom and pop Cha Cha shop type teachers who failed in the Arthur Murray organization. I have gotten so many wonderful benefits of learning to dance, especially because of showcase. When you go,it is not a competition, but you get feedback on all of your dances which i think carries greater value that just placing. Bottom line is you will recieve increased confidence from something you have never thought you could do, meet new people, and have an event to rememeber. Please take that into consideration before deciding, because nobody could make you do something you do not want to do.
no subject Posted by terence2 7/6/2007 11:34:00 PM
Have to mostly agree with the last post. I personally , have taught, coached, managed etc, for both Freds and A / M for over 45yrs ( on and off )
The main problem that seems to arise, the " bad apple " in the basket. yes, there are some pretty dismal franchise owners .having said that, there are far more good ones, who make every effort to put a good product on the market. many larger schools, bring in world class coaches on a regular basis ,something one would seldom get from an independant school .( cost prohibitive ) For those of you who are not informed of the chain school concept, it was an idea formulated by A.M., who came up with a marketing concept for teaching by mail. this grew into what we see today. The idea , initially, was to offer lessons on a private as well as a class basis, on a mass level ,with expedient results. No-- It did not turn out " dancers ", that was not the objective ( that came into place much later ). The one thing it did,above all else, was provide a safe and welcoming atmosphere , for singles as well as couples, catering strongly to the social aspect of dance ( something we , many times , have forgotten how to do ! )
As an instructor for AM, we do not force any student to do a showcase. However, you can do one at any level, and you will be entered in at that level and judged accordingly. If you are a newcomer, your teacher will give you slightly more advanced steps to push your level. You will not be expected to perform at a bronze level - you'll be expected to perform at a newcomer level. How do you think anyone gets to be an advanced competitor? By competing and starting at the bottom. This is not for us to make money - in fact, we barely make a profit on competition - we do it so that our students can experience what competition is about, and doing a showcase enhances your dancing for that particular dance. By working on a routine, you learn more about that dance. I have never had a student that regretted doing a showcase. Yes - they cost money. Any reputable competition with real judges is going to cost money, whether it's AM sanctioned or independent. So, if you want to do it, then do it, and enjoy it!
screwed, I am an AM instructor, and that is not how our studio is run at all. I believe you are unfortunately at an AM that only cares about your money, but that is not how all of them are run. I love teaching, and I love my students, and we do not hold our students back. We want nothing more than for them to be great, confident social dancers, and if they want compete, we train them. Yes, competing costs money, and depending on your expectation level, more lessons. But it does sound like this particular AM is not upholding what we pride the standard to be. I'm tired of hearing about these AM studios that are giving all AM studios a bad rap.
Responding to the initial posting in this string........I too, am new, dancing only since May. My instructor talked to me about participating in a competition this past July........after much consideration (because of expense and lack of experience) I decided to go for it. I'm very happy that I did, it was an exciting event and a great learning experience. My instructor was sure to tell me that I will make mistakes (even the most advanced dancers do) and that no dancer is ever really ready for the first competition (or performance or showcase). I set my mind to learn the routine and I did "burn" through a few more lessons than usual.....but that was okay....I am there to learn to dance. Spending the extra time and lessons on preparing for the comp was a good thing....I felt more confident and was able to complete the comp dances without making any serious mistakes.....I was fortunate, I did come in third place 3 times (out of six dances performed). My teacher worked very hard with me and made sure that I would perform well at the level I am at. The comp and practice leading up to it helped advance my dance abilities. I did purchase a video of my dances.....yes, expensive, but so worth it to see what I need to work on. I'll warn you that it's not easy to watch yourself dance on video.......but it is nothing but helpful, after you get over the shock of seeing yourself dance in a very UNLIKE "dancing with the stars" kind of way. Don't let it discourage you. As newcomers, we can't expect to be the most polished dancers.....but we are on are way to achieving that goal. In your posting you stated that you don't mind if the showcase expensive. So, perhaps think hard about the benefits that you will reap from dancing in the showcase. You will advance your dancing and become more confident with your dancing. It will help you know what to expect at the next performance. It will help put you on the path to advanced performance if that is what you want. But, we all start at the beginning and work our way up the dancing food chain. Dancing is expensive, but if you love it, so worth it. I know that I am not always easy to teach, and that fact makes it easier for me to justify paying well for it. I'll bet racecar driver hopefuls or athlete hopefuls, or gymnastic or golf hopefuls pay alot for their training too. By the way.....some of the figures that people have mentioned paying....are not even close to what I pay at a Fred Astaire studio. Yes, I pay alot, but there are some horror stories here! If you want to do the showcase, and money is not an object....do it. Your teacher would not risk making him/herself look really foolish and like a poor teacher if you were not able to do a competant job. His abilities are also being showcased here, too. If you decide to do the sowcase, You will have fun, learn a new routine and become a bit more comfortable dancing in front of people........those are great benefits. Good luck to you!
to 5lisamarie - I'm so happy to hear that you enjoyed your showcase and that you did well!!! Cheers to you for putting it on the line. The first showcase is always the most difficult, and many people don't want to work through that vulnerable and scary stage of dancing. You are on your way to becoming a stronger dancer both emotionally and physically! Good luck in the rest of your dancing journey!
I am an AM student and have been for over 6 years. I still get petrified over competitions sometimes but what I have learned with my dance experience, that is performance and competitions, is self confidence. I was for most of my life the only girl on a drum line and so the hardest thing for me to do was be a GIRL! When I started ballroom dancing and the teacher brought up closed position in Tango and Cuban Motion, I thought I would DIE!
I did that first showcase and got video of my entries and I was so surprised to see that the chromosomes are right... I'm a GIRL... I can wiggle and everything
The first showcase I did, I used more lessons than usual. However, where I am, showcases are relatively little things. Around here, I can do a showcase for less than $200 and not use any more of my lessons than usual (it's always up to you the rate at which you use your lessons)and I still have a lot of fun with the competition and the dinner. I think the most expensive showcase I've done ran abut $400 and that included doing a solo routine and both smooth and rhythm scholarships. Compared to the national events, showcases are bargains, as the national events can become cost prohibitive, costing $3k-$5+ per event.
I feel sorry for those who are resentful towards AM. There are scary franchisees out there to be sure, but the whole dance community is so neat! It is unfortunate that there are people who have had bad experiences and can't seem to move past those experiences. Even my 12 year old dances and has ballroom danced for over 6 years (more than half her life) with AM. She loves it and has learned so much about dealing with boys and how she expects to be treated (with the respect!) because of the protective and nurturing environment that AM has provided for her. Yes, it costs money, but so does a few good rounds of golf with a good instructor...and ski lessons...and art class... It's an investment in yourself, one that you will ultimately not regret.
you cant go to a studio and get stuff for free. yes judges get paid too, and its not like going to mcdonalds and getting a big mac. Sometimes more lessons are required. you do get ribbons but whats wrong with making people feel good. maybe you were robbed, and your teacher was not good, but in the end you can just say no. what is learned doing the actual performance is worth lessons, its almost 2 for 1
"what is learned doing the actual performance is worth lessons, its almost 2 for 1"
I couldn't agree more. THE and I mean THE reason I do scholarship is because I learn more out there on the floor during those 9 gruelling dances than I do in year of lessons. I could care less about the placings because it is SO valuable to me to be in that environment. Between the outside view of the video camera and my own floor experience in the moment, it is like the most intense education I can give myself. Not only that, my instructor learns a lot, too, and he is a veteran instructor of over 7 years. He learns something new about himself about floorcraft about what I'll respond to (or not respond to as the case may be . Competitions are performance art, so they are by nature unpredictable but the experience is well worth the investment.
I too am a student and had similar feelings as you. But have participated in showcases since the beginning. And yes, to the studio, it is about sales! But having said that you will learn faster and become a dancer quicker if you participate in the the show cases. Note, I said dancer. There is a big difference between being a dancer and just knowing and being able to execute steps. Just don't get caught up in the hype of it being a competition because it is not. It is a means of structuring lessons and concentrating your learning process. You will get to interact with people of all levels of ability and experience. If you are male, you will learn something about leading and physically communicating with your partner. If female you will learn how to follow. And you cannot be a dancer until as a mail you can lead any woman and as a female follow any man with grace and beauty.
Yes, yes, lots of people distrust AM, and yes, a showcase costs some money, but everyone at my studio looks forward to them SO much. We eat good food and dance all day. And I feel for me like it's good experience to bravely dance in front of a crowd. You're not going to master any of these dances for years, but you could still put on a good show. Pick YOUR favorite dance, and YOUR favorite song, and HAVE FUN WITH IT is my advice.
Oh, the showcase mill isn't just a problem at AM studios! It's found in many studios, and it can be a disasterous affair for dancing in general. I have seen numerous people with some level of raw talent eventually leave ballroom because an instructor saw them as a temporary fix to their bank account instead of a long term, mutually rewarding relationship. At our studio, it is usually a woman who comes to learn to dance because she wants to LEARN to dance. She has natural talent, and the men enjoy the infusion of fresh talent and enthusiasm. Then comes the instructor who praises her for her talent, and he talks her into s showcase. And yes, she spends a lot of money, but before long, she can only do her choreography. It won't then be much longer before she realizes she can't follow simple figures, and she finds dancing difficult. She realizes she hasn't LEARNED anything. This leads to disappointment and a loss of her initial joy she felt learning to dance. Most eventually leave the studio not to return. It happens to men, too. And all due to greedy, unethical, self-centered, teachers who have a Problem with Immediate Gratification. The PIGs ruin more aspiring learner's dreams than I can stomach. Yah, it makes me angry. Yes, I do showcases with my teacher, but I'm the customer, and I approach her. We work together on the project. I don't allow her to sell me anything I can't afford or I don't want. For this year's Christmas show, we're doing a slow waltz to Away in a Manger as sung by Faith Hill. I already have her working with me on it, by my choice, and we will have something nice to present. I expect the inclusion of most of the figures from 2 silver syllabi, so I can showcase what I have LEARNED, and she fills in the gaps with advanced, open choreography to challenge me in areas where I need improvement. This is my conception of how it should be.
I've danced showcases at several different (indy) studios and I enjoyed all but the first immensely as well as the prep work. However, they were / are expensive.
My partner got slammed once though - her instructor kept changing the choreography and then the studio rescheduled the showcase to a day when she had to be out of town. And she had spent a fair amount of money on a dress just for that showcase. She now refuses to dance any showcases there.
JJ.. do you REALLY believe that ALL Pro/Am is about the lack of maturity ?
There are countless ladies who dance in that division ( and some guys ) who are quite content to dance with a Pro. for many reasons other than their L.O.M. .. Prime reason ? lack of male partners.. would you have them sit on the sidelines in the eternal "waiting room" ?..
If there were NO Pro /Am comps.. the majority of comps would cease to exist.. they fund the way for the aspiring Pros and Amat.
The solid fact is.. that a Major world body, has been encouraging the pro/Am status, and the last event they sponsored in Argentina , was attended by over 40 countries.. Dancing, believe it or not it IS a business ..
Lastly.. the " value " in Pro/Am is reflected in the Prize money for Pro comps ( many rely upon this for income ).. it also may affect the quality of Judging ..( promoters could not afford the current diversity )
yes, Terrence 2 - I think that is EXACTLY what jj believes. He must have been VERY badly burned in the past. Re: expectations that I have of coaches, pro teachers and amateur partners, and knowing that some amateur partners have written contracts detailing the specifics of their dance partnership, if I were jj's partner I would certainly expect him to sign a contract about every detail of a partnership with him.