UWCE Beginning Ballroom Dance

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Event Dates

This event occurred
in the past.

Wednesdays
  from 6:30-8pm
Occurs...
Wed, 15 September 2010
  through
Wed, 15 December 2010

Instructor: Darrell Dieringer
Limit: 30; 2.1 CEU; $155/person
Program #1130

Held At:
  Kanopy Dance Studio – 341 State St
  2nd floor above “The Gap” clothing store

Offered By: UW Division of Continuing Studies
You must register through the UW Division of Continuing Studies

UW Continuing Studies

New and experienced dancers alike, learn to lead and follow with skill and confidence! Learn the music, basic patterns, styling, turns, and common moves for the classic “smooth” partner dances – Tango, Fox Trot, and Waltz – as well as the exciting rhythmic Merengue. Beyond just steps and patterns, class focuses on good form and function. You will learn the movement and partnering principles to unlock your individual style. No dance experience required. No partner needed. Dress comfortably for a movement class.




Though taught by an instructor from the Art of Dance, this class is offered exclusively through the UW Division of Continuing Studies.

To enroll in this class, you must register with the
UW Division of Continuing Studies.

Gift certificates or discount specials issued by the studio may not be used for the activity described above.

written by:   [ About ]   [ Contact ]
Published: 01 September 2010 at 11:46am
Last Edited: 01 September 2010 at 11:54am

Class Notes

The class notes for UWCE Beginning Ballroom Dance

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Class Notes

Week Thirteen

Each week you learn more about dance, and you get better at the dances you already know.

This week, you did a partnering exercise designed to develop a better connection with your partner when you are dancing, thus allowing you to feel where your partner is going (regardless of whether you are the Lead or the Follow).

In order to execute more and more advanced moves, you must be aware of how your partner is responding to you. And you must move with power and authority (again, regardless of whether you are the Lead or the Follow).

When we switched to Tango, you reviewed the following…

  • The Basic (T-A-N-G-O) [SSQQS]
  • The Left Turning Promenade [SSQQS]
  • The Single Corte [SSQQS]
  • The Checked Promenade [SQQSQQ]
  • The Checked Promenade immediately followed by the Left Turning Promenade [SQQSQQ SSQQS]
  • The Double Corte [QQSS-QQSS-QQS]

The more you challenge yourself with the progressively more challenging moves, the easier the earlier moves will become.

Don’t forget about the USA Dance dance on Saturday, 18 Dec 2010.

Week Thirteen

Each week you learn more about dance, and you get better at the dances you already know.

This week, you did a partnering exercise designed to develop a better connection with your partner when you are dancing, thus allowing you to feel where your partner is going (regardless of whether you are the Lead or the Follow).

In order to execute more and more advanced moves, you must be aware of how your partner is responding to you. And you must move with power and authority (again, regardless of whether you are the Lead or the Follow).

When we switched to Tango, you reviewed the following…

  • The Basic (T-A-N-G-O) [SSQQS]
  • The Left Turning Promenade [SSQQS]
  • The Single Corte [SSQQS]
  • The Checked Promenade [SQQSQQ]
  • The Checked Promenade immediately followed by the Left Turning Promenade [SQQSQQ SSQQS]
  • The Double Corte [QQSS-QQSS-QQS]

The more you challenge yourself with the progressively more challenging moves, the easier the earlier moves will become.

Don’t forget about the USA Dance dance on Saturday, 18 Dec 2010.

Week Twelve

There were two main points I wanted to convey in class this week…

  1. It is important to work on certain “little” details early in your dancing
    1. Supporting 100% of your body weight with just one foot (is very important for turning and changing directions)
    2. Getting strong enough in your back (and flexible enough in your chest/pectoral muscles) to hold your shoulders and elbows properly
  2. Leads must move with confidence and power (but not force or aggression)
  3. Follows must respond with confidence and power (but not force or aggression)

I know that learning to dance can be quite intricate and seem quite complicated, but I promise that it will eventually click if you stay with it.

The “steps” or “figures” that you learn in this class (or any other class) do not in and of themselves make you dance. (Putting your feet in the correct places at the correct times only is an approximation of dancing.)

Instead, it may be helpful to think about it a different way. The figures you learn are descriptions of what happens when you dance. As in, if you are moving properly, your feet will go to certain places at certain times.

When we switched to Tango, you re-learned the Tango Basic and the Left-Turning Promenade. Both use normal eight-count Tango timing of S-S-Q-Q-S (or T-A-N-G-O).

Like Fox Trot, Tango has multiple basic rhythms.

  • S-S-Q-Q-S (eight beats/counts)
  • S-Q-Q-S-Q-Q (eight beats/counts)
  • Q-Q-S-S-Q-Q-S-S-Q-Q-S (sixteen beat/counts)

In class you learned figures that use the first two rhythms. (We will get to an example of the last one next week – I promise, it’s not as complicated as it might look.)

You learned the Checked Promenade which uses the second rhythm. In order to do the Checked Promenade, you must be able to move boldly and confidently, stay in promenade dance position, and change directions several times in succession.

As a practice sequence, you did the Checked Promenade immediately followed by the Left Turning Promenade. Bringing your feet together at the end of the Checked Promenade is very important for being able to continue into another move.

Next Week…

  • More Tango
  • More Waltz

Please attend the next USA Dance-Madison social dance on 18 December, 2010.

Week Eleven

This week was only review. You spent almost the entire class period just dancing. Entire songs with the same partner. Several songs in a row without me interrupting.

  • Revisiting the Tango
  • More Waltz

Week Ten

Only a few weeks left in the semester. I hope you are starting to attend social dances. There is no point in taking lessons unless you plan to dance somewhere!

This week, you learned to apply the Turning Twinkle to Waltz. Additionally, you learned the Hesitation and Twinkle, and the Chase Twinkle. The Chase Twinkle was the first waltz move that required syncopation – subdividing the normal 1-2-3 rhythm of Waltz.

Next Week (the day before Thanksgiving)…

  • No New Steps
  • Only Review – your chance to catch up

Week Nine

You have learned a lot in the past two months. In addition to the moves and dances you know, I suspect one of the additional things you have discovered is just how much is involved in dancing well, in transitioning from one move to another, and in Leading and Following. These are skills that a dancer will always need, regardless of the particular dance you are doing.

Each new move and new dance that you learn highlight additional skills involved in Leading and Following. The moves you know in Fox Trot begin to highlight the importance of Bending and Sending and of holding a proper frame. For Leads and Follows, your frame must be strong and powerful, yet not stiff and rigid.

In Fox Trot, when you do transitions from one Dance Position to another (like Closed Dance Position, Outside Partner Dance Position, and Promenade Dance Position, the transition happens gradually.

When we switched to Tango, the transitions happen sharply (though not forcefully). Tango is a dramatic, passionate dance characterized by march-tempo music. (You can find Tango Practice Music in our Media Gallery.)

The basic is counted Slow Slow Quick Quick Slow (SSQQS), taking eight beats of music (each S=2, each Q=1). The basic also features a new action – deliberately moving your foot without changing weight to it.

In class, you learned the Tango Basic, the Left-Turning Promenade, and the Corte.

Next Week…

  • Brief Fox Trot Review
  • Tango Review
  • More Waltz

Field Trip
Remembers, Saturday, 20 November 2010, is the next Social Dance hosted by USA Dance-Madison [their website]. It is never too early to begin attending social dances, and this is an excellent dance for you to attend.

Week Eight

In addition to a fairly comprehensive review (see the class note for week seven, above) and lots of practice time, you were beginning to employ the various phrases that I repeat often in class, like Bend and Send or Get Low then Go. We now have a new one – Unless You Stop, You’ll Keep Going.

You were starting to transition between the Magic Rhythm (SSQQ) and the Box Rhythm (SQQ) in Fox Trot. You take the first “Slow” step, then stop (ever so briefly) to transition to the “Quick Quick” (thus becoming Box Rhythm). Unless you stop on that first Slow, you will keep going forward/backward to do another slow, thus becoming Magic Rhythm.

You also learned two new twinkles – the Fall Away Twinkle and the Turning Twinkle. Both are four-measure patterns. Measure numbers one and four are the same for both. The new stuff happens on measures two and three.

The Fall Away Twinkle uses Fall Away Dance Position. The Turning Twinkle uses Outside Partner Dance Position.

Next Week…

  • Flip Flops in Waltz
  • More Twinkles in Waltz

New Feature: Sarah Calhoun – my pro partner – and I have published a number of Music Playlists to help make it easier for you to practice at home or anywhere else with an Internet connection.

Week Seven

We covered very little new material this week. Instead, I had you focusing on making what you do know work better. Remember, dancing takes place in the entire body. The foot patterns are an important part of ballroom dancing, but the patterns are only a part of it.

Knowing a number of moves – patterns – helps a lot. In Fox Trot, you have done…

  • Left Box, Right Box, and Progressive Basic in Box Rhythm (SQQ)
  • Simple Twinkle in Box Rhythm
  • The “Magic Basic” (SSQQ)
  • Promenade Twinkles (with/without turns) in Magic Rhythm
  • Sway Step
  • Corner Turn (aka Quarter Turn to the Left)
  • Zig Zag – in Closed Dance Position and in Outside Partner Dance Position

In Waltz, we only have a box rhythm (1-2-3). In Waltz you know…

  • Left Box, Right Box, and Progressive Basic
  • Simple Twinkle
  • Hesitation and Twinkle
  • Simple Under Arm Turn (Simple UAT) – four measure pattern
  • Two-Way UAT – six-measure pattern

Next Week…

  • More Twinkles in FT and Waltz

    Week Six

    Everything you learn in a beginning dance class comes back in some form or another for as long as you continue dancing. In class we cover both what to do and how to do it. Working on only one of those aspects means missing an important part of partner dancing.

    Much of the what to do piece are the particular patterns or moves, as well as the social norms of partner dancing (where your hands/arms are in a closed dance position, how close is too close, etc).

    Much of the how to do it piece involves muscle strength in your own body and sensitivity to the movements of your partner. The exercises from our warm up are useful for developing that muscle strength. Practicing slowly with a partner is useful for developing sensitivity.

    We reviewed all of the magic rhythm moves from Fox Trot, including how to use the Corner Turn to get repositioned once you make it all the way down the dance floor.

    When we switched to Waltz, we spent more time on the Simple UAT, then used it to build the Two-Way Under Arm Turn (UAT). The Simple UAT is a four-measure pattern that ends with the second half of a box.

    The Two-Way UAT is a six-measure pattern that ends with a Twinkle.

    Each of the moves you learn (in this or any dance) are building blocks that can be strung together or rearranged in order to create new moves.

    Next Week…

    • Adapting Waltz moves for Fox Trot
    • Perhaps the Tango

    Week Five

    You learned a lot of different moves in Fox Trot. All of them were S S Q Q moves. A Promenade Twinkle. Two different Promenade Twinkles with UAT (one with the turn on the S S, the other with the turn on the Q Q). The Swing Step (aka Sway Step).

    We talked about Leads needing to be light yet very clear about leading turns. In general, providing more room and opening up more space (by reaching with farther with the Lead’s arm) when Follows are turning.

    When we switched to Waltz, you learned a four-measure pattern called the Simple Under Arm Turn (UAT). For the Lead, it works pretty much like a box, turning a quarter-turn to your left on the third measure.

    For the Follow, this move involves many things. It involves a special way to make a curved path along the floor while at the same time stepping forward on each step. There is a good period of time during the move where the Follow cannot see the Lead (requiring the Follow to trust only where her hand is going vs watching where the Lead is going).

    Next Week…

    • More FT, more Magic Rhythm
    • Revisit the Simple UAT in Waltz
    • More moves in Waltz

    Week Four

    We spent a lot of the time working on how to make your dancing work better. Specifically, you focused on the specific jobs of Leads and Follows and how both people contribute to making every move work.

    Troubles come to light, for instance, when switching between Left Boxes and Right Boxes. Bumped knees. Tentative movements. You worked on the power Follows bring to the equation, specifically using the Lead’s hand on the Follow’s back. The power Follows provide is what trained Leads come to expect and appreciate from their partners.

    Lead’s worked on providing more certainty (notice, not more force) when leading. The certainty comes in part from repetition and successes in leading. The more you discover that you can move with certainty and that it works, the more certain you become about moving with certainty. It is that certainty that trained Follows come to expect and appreciate from their partners.

    You did learn a few new moves, in fact a whole new six-count rhythm, for Fox Trot. Slow-ly Slow-ly Quick Quick (SSQQ). You learned this “Magic” basic, as well as a Corner Turn (aka Corner Turn / Rock Turn / Quarter Turn to the Left).

    Next week…

    • More Waltz – two way UAT
    • More Twinkles

    Week Three

    We reviewed the material from last week, including the friction connection, the Left-Box and Right-Box, the Progressive Basic using parallel feet (vs turned-out or turned-in), creating a good frame, and moving/moving into space (ie, Leads waiting their turn).

    Building on the box from last week, you learned the Twinkle (aka Simple Twinkle). This is a two-measure pattern that involves moving from Closed Dance Position to Promenade Dance Position (opening like the covers of a hard cover book, trying not to break the binding).

    We then switched to a new dance – the Waltz. Waltz uses a box basic which gets counted as “1 – 2 – 3″. (Fox Trot uses a box basic, too, it just gets counted e differently.) The same moves you know in Fox Trot can be done in Waltz.

    To finish class, you learned a new move – the Hesitation and Twinkle.

    Next Week

    • More Fox Trot
    • More Waltz

    Week Two

    Thank you to everyone who completed my Welcome Survey. If you still need to complete it, you can find it here.

    In addition to the small half-sheet waiver that the UW requires, I also require a separate Waiver. If you did not complete an Art of Dance waiver, you can find it here.

    Please talk to me (or email me) early in the semester if there is something about class that you would like me to address.

    We reviewed the material from last week, including the friction connection and the importance of a proper frame (with elbows nice and high). We also began to work on Floor Craft – the art of collision avoidance while dancing.

    This week was largely a foundation-building class. In addition to the Left Box and Progressive Basic, you began making the Left Box rotate to the left (as it’s name implies). You also added the Right Box to your moves, and learned to systematically transition from starting with the Lead’s left foot to starting with the Lead’s right foot.

    Next week…

    • The Twinkle (aka Simple Twinkle)
    • TheSimple Under Arm Turn (UAT)
    • A new dance – the Waltz

    Week One

    Hello Dancers,

    Each week I will post the highlights of what we covered in class. This is not meant to be a dance manual or a substitute for attending class. Instead, it is here to help you remember what we worked on between classes.

    We started with our risk statements, policies, and paperwork. I briefly discussed my experience dancing and competing as well as my approach to teaching dance.

    The warm up is the most important part of any dance class – it is the time when dancers learn to use their bodies in new ways. In addition to promoting greater leg and back strength, general flexibility, and avoidance of injuries, we will develop numerous isolations and greater coordination.

    Dance classes in other genres of dance – Modern, Jazz, Ballet, Hip Hop, African – all begin with a comprehensive warm up. Partner dancing (ballroom dancing) is another dance discipline equally as involved as those I just mentioned, yet a warm up is frequently missing from many ballroom dance classes. In the ballroom classes and workshops I have taken over the years, participants get through more material more quickly and with greater satisfaction in those classes that began with a comprehensive warm up.

    I believe in teaching you how to dance, not just teaching you how to reproduce steps, patterns, and figures. It takes a little bit of time to lay this foundation, but it is time well spent. You can learn to lead and follow well. Both are skills that people can develop.

    The Lead’s role is to define space. The Follow’s role is to decide how and when to occupy space. Partner dancing is a dialogue between two people – each person voluntarily participating in the activity, dancing together. The lead does not tell the follow what to do! The Lead simply “goes first”. The Follow “goes next”. The communication between Leads and Follows involves taking turns.

    You worked on what I called the “friction connection” – not too hard, not too soft, just right – and that each person is responsible for building and maintaining the connection.

    You used the friction connection to begin moving around the room, walking in a way that inspires confidence in your partner – confidence that (s)he knows where (s)he is going.

    You learned to build a good Closed Dance Position, paying attention to doing it well and developing good habits for your dancing. It is easier to learn how to dance well from the very beginning than it is to repair deficiencies in your dancing later on.

    Being able to dance with a good “frame” tells your partner that you understand how to be a respectful dance partner. Remember, you need to invade the personal space of your partner in order to dance together. For many people just learning to dance, this close proximity can be a little discomforting. Having a good frame is one of the ways each partner demonstrates that (s)he knows the rules regarding being that close together.

    By the end of the class, we began dancing the “box” pattern to Fox Trot music. For the people with a music background, Fox Trot music is written in 4/4 time, and each half of a box takes one measure of music.

    We built the box from simple movement principles – moving forward or backward, moving sideways, and bringing our feet together – changing weight from one foot to the other with each movement.

    The Leads were actually leading. The Follows were actually following. Learning to lead and follow from the very beginning of learning to dance promotes greater understanding of dancing and ultimately makes it easier to learn the various patterns for the dances and moves we will be doing.

    I end each class session with a review, in the form of a question. “What is something useful or interesting you learned today?” Everyone gets a chance to answer, because sometimes the best observations and really good insights can come from your fellow classmates.

    Next week, we will work on the three socially acceptable regions of contact, develop more things to do in the Fox Trot, and learn the Merengue.

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    Comments

    Howdy classmates!

    By 8pm each Wednesday I’m already waiting for 6:30pm the next Wednesday. Ninety minutes per week is really really not enough time for me to spend ballroom dancing! If any of the rest of you are in that boat with me, let me know because I’d love to get together and practice outside of class!

    Linda

    I found class to be highly enjoyable tonight, and I am quite pleased that we get to practice it all on Saturday evening. :)

    We’re going out after our last class, and you are all welcome to join us.

    We’re also going to the USA Dance on 12/18, the Saturday after our last class, and we are hoping to see many of you there.

    > We’re going out after our last class, and you are all welcome to join us.

    Hurray for swing dancing at the Brink! (and v.v.g. martinis)