Friday, January 27, 2012

Ballroom Dancing - Swing

The theme in dance class this week seems to have been swing. Hubby and I went to our private lesson at Arthur Murray and our very friendly teacher informed us that she was going to teach us 3 more dances: Hustle, Tango, Swing. Exciting right? Well, yes if all you want to learn is to move your feet in the right places without taking music, rhythm, turns, or any other topic around what makes dancing fun into consideration. In 30 mins, she spent 10 mins on each basic foot pattern. For example.

In the tango, the basic foot pattern is so simple that I hope you can understand what a waste of 10mins it was. The lead or the man will take 3 forward steps starting with his left followed by a step together. Left, right, left, step together. And the leader or the woman will simply follow so she takes 3 steps back starting with her right foot then step together. Simple. Ridiculously simple. Yet she spent 10 mins on it when she could have easily taught us a simple turn or something else in that time.

Because I don't trust that you understand just how simple it was with my's a video to demonstrate exactly what we did for 10 mins.

That's it! That's it! Seriously! That was IT! I ran out of patience after the first minute.

I really don't even feel it necessary to discuss the hustle because the steps she taught us for that are exactly the same as the simplest version of the single time east coast swing. For the man, it's sway left, sway right, rock step with the left foot. For the woman, it's exactly the same but opposite sides since we're facing one another. I don't know about you but I've seen Saturday Night Fever and what they did doesn't look anything like the east coast swing basic.

This is the hustle:

This is what we learned for the hustle lesson:

West Coast Swing
Then she taught us the West Coast Swing basic. This she actually got relatively correct but with a small variation to the video below. Instead of the triple step demonstrated below, our brilliant instructor at Arthur Murray told us to tap a toe behind us. I'm sure it's not horrifically incorrect or anything but just different.

Now that our private lessons at Arthur Murray are over, I have to say that I'm glad. We still have the one group class we can attend from our introductory offer. I'm sure we will take that group class sometime in the near future though I'm not confident that it will change my opinion of the dance center or their methods. Overall, I wouldn't recommend Arthur Murray unless you have a lot of money to blow and don't really care about learning to do any real dancing anytime soon. At the end of our second private lesson, we were quoted $144 per 40min private lesson with an 8 lesson commitment that can be used at our discretion. Personally, I didn't feel that the two 30mins lessons we got were worth the $60 we paid, but that's just me. Two thumbs down for sure.

Washington Dance Club
Last night, we attended our last group class at Washington Dance Club and all we had was hope after the Arthur Murray disappointment. Well, we were not disappointed again. Our teacher at WA Dance Club, Christa Quackenbush (who is also the owner btw) did a little review of our previous lesson with the waltz. She reviewed all the fun stuff we learned last time which was great because we actually now have enough knowledge to enjoy a real social dance if a waltz song comes on or if we attend a wedding or something like that. Hubby was dancing me all over that ballroom and it was wonderful and fun and I loved every second of it.

Then our fabulous teacher decided to do a bit of swing dancing too. She focused on east coast swing to get us started. More specifically, she focused on single time east coast swing which is the video I displayed above as the lesson we got for the hustle from the other stupid school. But instead of just doing the simple sway right, sway left, rock step and nothing else, she started there but then progressed into actual turns so we can use it to build upon to do real dancing in the real world. And as if that wasn't enough, she also showed us the triple time east coast swing too. See below for all the fun.

This shows the single time and triple time basics in closed position.

This shows the turns and changing places in triple time.

Our group classes at Washington Dance Club are also now over, however, because of the snow last week, we have a coupon to attend a Friday or Sunday night workshop and social dance to make up for the lost class. It is sad that our dance month was interrupted by the snow because we were going to learn the cha-cha last week and didn't get a chance to do that. But! We fully intend to continue going to Washington Dance Club for their Friday night workshops and dances and maybe even sign up for other lessons so we can learn more than we did this month. I love how they focus their classes. Each class is dedicated to one particular dance so you have the time and attention to learn more than just the basic footwork and can actually practice and apply what you learned at the dances. Brilliant! We haven't seen the last of this dance school even though there are others out there that can be considered as well.

If you have taken a dance lesson or two and decided it wasn't for you, I would highly recommend you give it another try at a different school or with a different teacher because not all classes, teachers, schools are created equal. I would have given up after the Arthur Murray experience too if I hadn't already had positive experiences before going there to know that learning to ballroom dance can be and is extremely fun, especially after you make it past the uneventful basic footwork. I really am grateful that I signed us up for the Washington Dance Club too because I would have been severely disappointed if I relied on the one negative experience.

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