UWCE Beginning Ballroom Dance – Summer

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Event Dates

This event occurred
in the past.

  from 4:30-6pm
Thu, 21 June 2012
Thu, 09 August 2012

Instructor: Darrell Dieringer
Limit: 26; 1.2 CEU; $99/person
Program #1120
Register by 15 June 2012

Held At:
  State Street Center – 122 State St
  3rd Floor Studio

Offered By: UW Division of Continuing Studies – Movement and Dance

Course Syllabus

You must register through the UW Division of Continuing Studies
( Register on paper | Register online )

UW Continuing Studies

Past Class Newsletters


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.


Students will know basic moves and be able to identify the music for up to five different dances – Waltz, Tango, Fox Trot, Swing, and Merengue. Students will develop good dance habits, emphasizing the importance of posture, frame, and connection. Students will recognize how those good habits help in the Leading and Following of moves, and how they also demonstrate respect for your dance partner and other dancers. In addition, students will understand the responsibilities and duties involved in skillful Leading and Following, as well as how to avoid collisions on a crowded dance floor.


Weather-related cancellations (or cancellations for any other reason) are announced on the UW’s Cancellation Web Page by 2:30pm on the day of 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: 22 June 2012 at 2:00pm
Last Edited: 28 August 2012 at 1:37pm

Class Notes

The class notes for UWCE Beginning Ballroom Dance – Summer

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Class Notes

Week Seven

Fox Trot

You worked on two related moves that require Promenade Dance Position. Both happened in Magic Rhythm (S S Q Q). One was the Promenade (aka Promenade Twinkle). The other was Promenade Underarm Turn, which turned on the Q Q.

You also reviewed the alignments in the room and became more accurate about finishing each part of the Zig Zag, for instance, either facing or backing the proper alignment.

Next Week

  • Review Waltz and Fox Trot
  • More Magic Rhythm moves with turns
  • Return to Swing

Field Trip to USA Dance-Madison’s monthly social dance on Saturday, 18 August 2012. I will be teaching at this event!

Week Six

This week, you spent most of the entire class period making your dancing work better – ie, more skillful leading and following.

I talked about:
Pre-Leading, or as I like to call it, Leading
– the importance of Frame/Posture (and other good habits)
Get Low Before You Go

You also learned the Zig Zag (aka “W”-Step) in Magic Rhythm Fox Trot

Next Week

  • More moves in Magic Rhythm
  • Return to Swing

Week Five

By now, many dancers start to realize that dancing well is tricky. The Good Habits I keep mentioning are an important part of continuing to advance your skills. You know a number of import ant moves, and you are beginning to really appreciate that dancing takes place throughout your body, back, arms, legs, and of course feet.

As a new dancer learns to dance, your understanding of the skills involved sometimes surpasses your ability to perform those skills! However, you are still learning and advancing your skills – you just have higher expectations for yourself. There is nothing wrong with that. Just give your body time to catch up to your expectations. The warm-up is a critical ingredient in fine-tuning your body so that your skills and expectations come into harmony.

The thing that separates dancers from non-dancers is the willingness to keep working!

Fox Trot

You worked on Box Rhythm in Fox Trot (Slow-ly, Quick, Quick). You learned several new Dance Positions:
– Promenade Dance Position
– Fallaway Dance Position
– Outside Partner Dance Position

You worked through those various dance positions while doing two different four-measure patterns in box rhythm:
Turning Twinkle
Fallaway Twinkle

Of course, you started with the two-measure Simple Twinkle

You also worked on Magic Rhythm in Fox Trot (S S Q Q). The Lead always starts with their Left Foot every time through the Magic Rhythm (does not alternate starting foot like the box rhythm). Similarly, the Follow always starts with their Right Foot.

You learned the Magic Rhythm Basic and the Rock Turn (aka Corner Turn, aka Quarter Turn to the Left). You also learned something about the alignments in traveling dances.
– Line of Dance
– Center
– Wall
– Diagonal Center
– Diagonal Wall

You can be facing or backing any of those alignments.

Line of Dance (transparent background)

Next Week

  • More about Alignments in the room
  • More Magic Rhythm Moves in Fox Trot
  • Return to Swing

Week Four


This week you worked on Good Habits and had a lot of time to practice Left Boxes, Right Boxes, and the fragment of a Two-Way Under Arm Turn (UAT). These moves show up in just about every other Waltz move you will learn, so it is worth getting comfortable with them.

At the end of class, you learned the Simple Under Arm Turn (UAT) and combined it with the earlier fragment of the Two-Way UAT, making a the complete Two-Way UAT.

The Simple UAT is a four-measure move that has markedly different Lead and Follow parts. Follows do a Tight Circular Walk (a special way to curve while still walking forward – ie 3-point arc on a basketball court). You probably will not see your partner until the end of the third measure.

You were discovering how important it is to know what to do with your feet, but also what to do with your hands. Your hands (Leads and Follows, both) are important as your feet when dancing!

Rhythm vs Pattern

Rhythm is determined by the music, and it helps define the dance you are doing. The Rhythm determines when you move. Patterns are the moves you learn at class. The Pattern determines where you move. You can use the same patterns with a different rhythm to make a new dance!

Fox Trot

By changing only the Rhythm, you can take the Patterns you learned in Waltz and do a new dance – the Fox Trot.

Fox Trot is done to jazzy or big-band music that is played in 4/4 time. For the non-musicians in the class, that just means you can count to four over and over again. The Box Rhythm for Fox Trot is Slow-ly, Quick, Quick (SQQ).

Next Week…

- Waltz: Review
- Fox Trot: Review Box Rhythm
- Fox Trot: Magic Rhythm

Field Trip to UWMBDA Social Dance

Week Three

** The Connection **

You started with Touchless Dancing. It is an excellent excercise in connecting with your partner’s movements. Everything each person does must be clear and readable, and each person learns patience while dancing (waiting your turn to go).

You worked on what I call the Friction Connection – not too hard, not too soft, just right – and that each person is responsible for building and maintaining the connection. We did this by doing a high-five and keeping your hands together. Each partner must maintain that feeling of connection.

** Dance Position **

By the end of class, you were doing proper Closed Dance Position. There is only one acceptable place for the Lead’s right wrist/hand. There is only one acceptable place for the Follow’s left hand. You will almost certainly discover new muscles in your back and how important it is to use them. It is important to have a proper Closed Dance Position from the very beginning of your dancing, because it is easier to learn how to dance well in the first place 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 respectful to other dancers. Remember, you need to invade the personal space of your partner in order to dance together. For many people learning to dance, this close proximity can be a little unusual or discomforting. Having a good frame is one of the ways each partner demonstrates that (s)he knows the rules regarding being that close together.

** The Box **

By the end of the class, you began dancing the Left Box, Right Box, and Progressive Basics in Waltz. The more assertively Lead moves (not forcefully), the easier it is for the Follows to know what’s happening. By moving at 90-degree angles (forward, sideways, and backward), you are developing Good Habits.

Next Week

  • Twinkles

Week Two

In class you reviewed the very important Cuddle and Hammerlock – either can be done “on both sides” for both the Lead and the Follow.

For Swing, you focused on Right-Side Cuddles (for both Lead and Follow) which quickly becomes Alternating Right Side Passes (letting go with the “down hand” and changing places).

You also learned a Under-Arm Turn (for Follows), a Lead’s Belly Pass, and a Hand Change Behind the Back (from Handshake dance hold).

Each of these moves evolves from the Right Side Pass.

You learned that the Basic for Swing is “Rock-Step Step Step” (or 1 2 3-hold-4, 5-hold-6 or Q Q S S or Quarter-note Quarter-note Half-note Half-note).

Next Week

  • Waltz Music and Basic
  • Twinkles

Don’t forget: The Eleventh Annual Hangar Dance is Saturday, 07 July

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 did in class.

Thank you for completing all of the paperwork. Here are links for your reference…

Also, please find the course syllabus, complete with Field Trips…

In order to learn to do something new with your bodies – like learn to dance or learn a new style of dancing – you need to engage in new activities. The warmup is designed to be just such an activity.

** The Warm Up **

The warm up is the most important part of any dance class. It how you train your body to move in new ways, developing strength, balance, and poise. In addition to promoting greater leg and back strength, general flexibility, and avoidance of injuries, you will develop numerous isolations and greater coordination though the exercises in the warm up.

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, yet a warm up is frequently missing from many ballroom dance classes.

In the ballroom classes and workshops I have taken over the years, students get through more material more quickly and with greater satisfaction in those classes that began with a comprehensive warm up.

** My Approach **

Just like there is more to music than the notes, and there is more to painting than the brush strokes or color pallet, there is more to dancing than the steps.

Ballroom dancing (partner dancing) involves many skills. The “steps” (aka “moves” or “figures” or “patterns”) are important. It may seem that knowing the steps may be all it takes to ballroom dance. However, things like balance, strength, responsiveness, timing, and communication go into doing the steps with a partner.

I believe in teaching you how to dance – how to make the steps your own so that you will always remember the moves you learned in class. You will know how to produce them instead of only what you are trying to produce.

It takes a little bit of time to lay this foundation, but it is time well spent.

** Leading and Following **

Leading and Following are skills that you can develop in a short amount of time, by engaging in all of the activities and exercises in class. You will continue to refine your Leading and Following skills for as long as you continue dancing.

Partner dancing is a dialogue between two people – each person voluntarily dancing together in response to each other. The Lead does not tell the Follow what to do!

Leading does not imply control. Leading simply means going first. Following does not imply submission. Following simply means going next. Everything you do in partner dancing involves taking turns responding to each other.

The Lead’s role is to define space (or move somewhere). The Follow’s role is to respond to the new space.

Follows have a lot of power in the partnership. A Lead cannot go again until the Follow has moved in response. That is, Follows can make Leads wait their turns to go again. The communication between Leads and Follows involves taking turns.

** The Connection **

You started with Touchless Dancing. It is an excellent exercise in connecting with your partner’s movements. Everything each person does must be clear and readable, and each person learns patience while dancing (waiting your turn to go).

You worked on what I call the Friction Connection – not too hard, not too soft, just right – and that each person is responsible for building and maintaining the connection. We did this by doing a high-five and keeping your hands together. Each partner must maintain that feeling of connection.

** Summary **

Learning to lead and follow from the very beginning of learning to dance promotes greater understanding of dancing and ultimately allows you to dance creatively and expressively. When you begin learning the specific steps and patterns for the various dances, already knowing what it feels like to lead and follow will help immensely.

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

Next Week

  • Swing Music and Basic
  • Waltz Music and Basic
  • Personal Space and Three Regions of Socially-Acceptable Contact

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