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    Registered User Phil_dB's Avatar
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    Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.



    I’ve found everyone so knowledgable and helpful on these forums, I thought I would push my luck again by asking for yet more advice.

    To start off by telling you where I am; i’ve done 9 beginner lessons, 1 workshop, i’ve been told I have a smooth lead, I don’t bounce, I have good rhythm and the potential to be a good lead. I’ve covered the core 19 beginners moves, but to be honest I am bored of repeating those same old moves during freestyle.

    I don’t feel confident enough at the moment to mix in with an intermediate class. (I speak to girls who have done 1 – 2 beginner lessons who happily join in the intermediates, - they tell me – “oh it’s fine, I just follow the man’s lead.” !).

    I have attended 2 intermediate classes, the first one was a bad experience (due to some rude woman), and the second I stayed fixed with another beginner at the back of the class.

    What struck me was how fast the instructor goes through the intermediate moves in comparison the the beginners: We took 45 minutes going through 3 relatively simple moves during the beginners class (plus you get the chance to learn them a second time during the second beginners lesson), but the more complicated (for me) intermediate moves were done and dusted in around 20 minutes. Is this always the case?

    Standing at the back of the hall with not much room to dance, I just about “got” the moves, - but I wouldnt be able to dance or freestyle them. Nor did my fixed partner and I feel we could really practice the moves we’d learnt thereafter as there were certain things which weren’t flowing, - i’m sure 5 minutes from an instructor nearby would have ironed these little problems out, but all the instructors/taxis were busy elsewhere.

    I have another workshop this weekend booked which is supposed to go some way in bridging the Beginner -> Intermediate gap... – but I was wondering if you might offer any other advice for someone in my position looking to learn, progress and become comfortable in the intermediate class. Seems like a bit of a jump?? I will probably buy both the intermediate DVDs which I think may be beneficial in 2 ways, - #1 – giving me a sneak preview of the moves covered in the lesson, so at least when I get taught them for the first time they won’t be completely alien, - and #2, after i’ve learnt them, i’ll have a good reference point to ‘perfect’ the move thereafter.

    If you’ve got this far, thanks for reading!!

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    Registered User Lynn's Avatar
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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Yep, its a bit of jump from beginner to intermediate.

    Basic tips would be to only try to remember and freestyle one move from the intermediate class - not all of them (just pick the one you like best), if stuck, ask someone to go over it with you and don't worry if in the first few weeks you are doing intermediate classes you are still freestyling with beginner moves. Often its easiest to start with freestyling intermediate moves that are beginner move variations - there should be one of those most weeks.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn View Post
    Yep, its a bit of jump from beginner to intermediate.

    Basic tips would be to only try to remember and freestyle one move from the intermediate class - not all of them (just pick the one you like best), if stuck, ask someone to go over it with you and don't worry if in the first few weeks you are doing intermediate classes you are still freestyling with beginner moves. Often its easiest to start with freestyling intermediate moves that are beginner move variations - there should be one of those most weeks.


    This certainly took the stress out of it for me, trying to nail all 4 seemed like an impossible task that left me angry and frustrated, focusing on getting just one was a relaxed affair. A little secret that might also take the stress out of it - loads of guys struggle in the Intermediate class with women commenting that they've done the class 25 different ways on the way round the rotation, if you're not getting it, i promise you you are not the only one !

    Another thing that helped me when I first started intermediate lessons was once I had collected a few of 'one move from each lesson' I choreographed a little routine that mixed them up with beginner moves, which helped to reduce the stress of thinking in freestyle. Over time you can start to wing it with your 'routine' as a fallback position should your mind go blank.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    I know how you feel mate,i,ve only had about 10 lesson myself and it does seem a big jump to go to intermediateIt does help to go on freestyle events and dance with as many people as possible. I was fed up with saying iam new at this blah blah blah. just perfect four or five moves,smile, eye contact,it will take time like it is with me but we will get there in the end.
    Workshops are the best way forward and it does help if you have a experienced partner like i have who has the patiences of a saint

    A good cd which i found was a great help was Ceroc in your living room (i think its called that).

    Anyway good luck mate

    Scarface out

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    My advice is to take it slowly. Enjoy the journey. Don't be in a hurry to reach the Nirvana of intermediate lessons. And don't stick with other beginners in the intermediate lesson - if they aren't experienced follows how will you know if you're leading properly?

    Don't expect to get all of the moves in the intermediate lesson. Make it your objective to add one of those moves into your repertoire for freestyle. Then you only have one move to practice that week - after a year you'll have 52 intermediate moves, which is 48.75 more than David Bailey

    Oh, and if you're at a class where they rush through the intermediate lesson in 20 minutes you're at a class that values freestyle more than lessons - while you want to learn you're better off doing it somewhere else.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    What i found out on my jorney. Work on dancing well. Keep doing the beginners lession and start the inters. It's a very big gap, so if you really struggling then maybe stop and try again next week. Bit by bit you will get there. Some of the ladies will be able to help you out too with arms etc in the right place, so don't join in with other begins as a fixed couple

    Things to note.
    - The more moves you know does NOT make you a betta dancer
    - Ceroc inter's is like relearn all over again.
    - Get the basic foot work right and it so much easier
    - Small steps.
    - Learn about tension.
    - Smile and enjoy

    Best of luck

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    Registered User Phil_dB's Avatar
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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    It's good to hear i'm not alone Scarface

    Andy Gav, Fixing at the back with another beginner was a suggestion from the instructors display partner after a conversation when I told him of what some silly women had said to me during my first crack at an intermediate class. I hear what you're saying, makes sense.

    I've been going to this same venue every week (it's the first venue I attended, which i've been told will always feel like 'home', - and it does in a way). I have tried out a couple of others on the odd occasion, but I think i'm going to abandon this regular venue (for a little while), - that silly women's always there and makes me feel a little uncomfortable for starters.

    I'm not going to do any more lessons until the workshop at the weekend, as, as I say, repeating the same moves during freestyle 'did my head in' last night.

    Okay - so I'll have to dive into a rotated intermediates class, and will simply have to be a bit of burdon on people until things start to click again.

    Quote Originally Posted by ashenfie View Post
    #1 Ceroc inter's is like relearn all over again.
    #2 Get the basic foot work right and it so much easier
    #3 Small steps.
    #4 Smile and enjoy
    Best of luck
    Thanks

    #1 - Hmmmm, - seems very true!

    #2 - I need to watch the demonstration at the front of the class a good few times to take it all in, - quite often I need to watch the instructors perform the move before I move, - a lot of follows I dance with in the practice will go to the move at the same time as the instructors -- I wait for a second so I can watch what they've done, and then move!

    #3 - noted - i've read this before, - and have to keep reminding myself....

    #4 - I was smiling and enjoying the beginner lessons, - during the intermediate I was either laughing or crying



    Taking one intermediate move and practicing it with a friendly follow is almost common sense, and I have been able to do that in the past (with beginners moves), - I think last night was a bit of a "funny" night, - the floor seemed too packed, yet there wasn't any of my usual friendly followers or taxis in sight to collar! I spent too much time messing around trying to get to workout the intermediate moves with my beginner partner (blind leading the blind), so by the end of the night, I didnt have many good dances, I left feeling a bit fed up (get out the violins )

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_dB View Post
    It's good to hear i'm not alone Scarface
    You are certainly not alone, and neither is Scarface, we have ALL been there before.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_dB View Post
    Taking one intermediate move and practicing it with a friendly follow is almost common sense, and I have been able to do that in the past (with beginners moves), - I think last night was a bit of a "funny" night, - the floor seemed too packed, yet there wasn't any of my usual friendly followers or taxis in sight to collar! I spent too much time messing around trying to get to workout the intermediate moves with my beginner partner (blind leading the blind), so by the end of the night, I didnt have many good dances, I left feeling a bit fed up (get out the violins )
    Sometimes Sense is not that common

    Yup, blind leading the blind does not work well.

    If the Witch of the West is bugging you that much, then as you have said, go and do some lessons elsewhere so you can feel comfortable.

    No solo violins, time to go for it and Orchestrate your dance future.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_dB View Post

    ... will simply have to be a bit of burdon on people until things start to click again.

    snip

    ... I need to watch the demonstration at the front of the class a good few times to take it all in, - quite often I need to watch the instructors perform the move before I move, - a lot of follows I dance with in the practice will go to the move at the same time as the instructors -- I wait for a second so I can watch what they've done, and then move!
    Just a few comments to add from a follower’s point of view:

    I don’t mind if the lead I am dancing with doesn’t get it in class or in freestyle, provided he appears to be trying (i.e. listening to the teacher’s advice) and doesn’t try to start apportioning blame towards me if he leads it badly and the move doesn’t work. To me, the attitude towards getting it wrong is what makes it a pleasant or unpleasant experience.

    If you want to watch a move before you try it, then just say so to your partner. Likewise, if you aren’t sure what you’re doing, tell your partner. On the whole, followers want the leads to get what they are meant to be doing and become better dancers, so it is in your partner’s interests to help you learn, whether by initially backleading you, following exactly what you lead wrongly, or whatever. Communication is a great thing; the follower can help you better if you tell her what you are struggling with, but she doesn’t have a crystal ball. There are followers out there who are friendly (as you have found already) and if you want to add to your list of them, then admitting you could use some help is one way to do it. Also, you might get more friendly followers if you post where it is that you dance.

    Even with this approach, you may get some stroppy people who just don’t want to be helpful, but that is their bad attitude. Will you want to enjoy social dances with that sort of person anyway? No? Their loss when you become a good dancer then, which you should become because you are actively seeking advice on improving. You will also get followers on the rotation who don’t realise that it doesn’t help for them not to step through the moves regardless of what you do. Plus you will get followers who may not be able to follow your lead even if you get it right. I suspect that after you settle into the intermediate class this won’t matter; as you get better you won’t need every chance on the rotation to practice, so you will be able to concentrate your learning efforts when you get the right followers.

    I find the worst thing on the rotation is getting leads who don’t listen to the teacher because they think they know it all, then they expect you to produce the correct move from an incorrect lead, and act like they are God’s gift to dancing. That does not tend to elicit a sympathetic willingness to freestyle or practice, from me at any rate! (This attitude seems to be most common in blokes who consider themselves to be past beginnerhood.) The other thing that really bugs me is thumbdigging – firstly it hurts, secondly it illustrates to me that the lead has no interest in their partner’s experience of the dance, and thirdly it indicates that he hasn’t listened to what the teacher has told him. No excuse for a beginner, because they say no thumbs at the start of practically every beginner lesson. No excuse for an intermediate because they should jolly well know by that stage.

    It’s lovely to dance with a really good lead, but an inexperienced lead isn’t necessarily a burden. As I said at the beginning, a good personal connection can make a dance lots of fun, even if the dancing itself is a bit ropey. And as other people have said, a few moves well done feel better than a thousand dodgy ones. There are a few beginners I am dancing with at the moment – they obviously aren’t going to be my best dances of the night, but I don’t feel I’m being a martyr at all. Apart from anything else, I feel that I am honing my following skills because if the lead is dodgy then I need to be sharper at picking up what he wants me to do, or compensating so that the dance goes better (and trying to get the balance right so I can compensate less and less as they iron their own problems out). But one of the main things for me is that I get a kick out of seeing the improvement. Even if initially the dance is only three moves it’s great to feel those moves get more competent, and then at some point you get a fourth move tentatively thrown in, which also then gets better…you can really feel the progress and know that by being supportive you are increasing someone’s enjoyment.

    I found the intermediate class sooooo tough to start with, as I think it is a real hike up from beginners, but if you stick with it then it gets easier and lots more fun.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_dB View Post
    I don’t feel confident enough at the moment to mix in with an intermediate class.

    I have attended 2 intermediate classes, the first one was a bad experience (due to some rude woman), and the second I stayed fixed with another beginner at the back of the class.
    I know it's daunting Phil, but you really must dive headfirst into the rotation. Quite often, if you're struggling with a move, you may find ladies that can tell you what is wrong or you might just work it out yourself by doing it with many partners as they go around.
    Generally, most people in lessons understand that there will be new intermediates in the class, and those that don't aren't worth worrying about.
    Sticking with the same partner during the lesson means that any mistakes will just be repeated and make it harder for you when you do dance with other people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_dB View Post
    What struck me was how fast the instructor goes through the intermediate moves in comparison the the beginners: We took 45 minutes going through 3 relatively simple moves during the beginners class (plus you get the chance to learn them a second time during the second beginners lesson), but the more complicated (for me) intermediate moves were done and dusted in around 20 minutes. Is this always the case?


    No it's not. You may have just been unlucky that night with a teacher running late, or it may not be the best class for you. It could even just be that the teacher didn't see any new intermediates in the line-up, so they went faster?

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    To all the above.

    Doing the workshops is good.

    Intermediate is often taught faster, but 20 mins seems short, so if this is always the case at your local venue, you might want to, as suggested, look for another class which has a longer intermediate class and slower teaching.
    Getting just one move from an intermediate class and adding it to your dance is a good result.

    Join the rotation, because it helps when dancing with the more experienced follows.
    After the intermediate class, you might like to ask one of the "friendly" follows if you could go through one of the moves you liked in the intermediate class, you could also ask up front if the "friendly" follow could offer you feedback. For this I would suggest asking an experienced "friendly" follow, one who seemed to have no problems with the moves.

    Keep positive, being able to do 19 moves in freestyle is great.

    Good luck with the next hurdle.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Learn the classic moves first. As they form the basics to a lot of variations.

    If only I could remember what they all were...

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_dB View Post
    ... What struck me was how fast the instructor goes through the intermediate moves in comparison the the beginners: We took 45 minutes going through 3 relatively simple moves during the beginners class (plus you get the chance to learn them a second time during the second beginners lesson), but the more complicated (for me) intermediate moves were done and dusted in around 20 minutes. Is this always the case?...
    Ceroc intermediate classes generally last 30 minutes.

    This is not the way to teach moves or dancing. Endure, you will conquer.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Phil.. I know how you feel. I have never successfully made the leap from beginner to intermediate .. despite starting dancing in 2003.

    Some great advice above. Just try to remember one move.. or even one part of a move each week. Workshops that intensively drill you in a small number of adaptable intermediate moves are good too. This is advice I SHOULD have followed many years ago. My main piece of advice don't do what I did. .. I got fed up struggling with the intermediate lessons so stopped attending. This is more a reflection on me than the teachers.. it's easy to convince yourself that "Actually I don't like this dancing lark and I'm not that good anyway " than it is to actually strive to better yourself.

    Dancing comes naturally to precious few people. And apart from those naturally gifted sorts the rest of us have to practice and work at it. I'm naturally gifted in mathematics and assorted geekery and I also have a desire to be the best at what ever I do. erm.. this is a destructive mind set to be in. So taking my own example as WHAT NOT to do, here are my own personal points (that i really should follow myself)

    1. Keep Dancing. There'll be good times and bad times, but take the rough with the smooth.
    2. Practice. Linked to above but can be done in any free moment you have.. waiting for the bus, waiting for the lift in the office just running over in your head some of the moves etc, trying them out when you have or haven't got a partner etc.
    3. Relax. So you don't know how that quadruple pretzel backflip arial hand jive drop works.. You're probably not the only one. concentrate on what you can do and not what you can't do. take bits out of things you can use again.
    4. Be happy with less. You don't need to learn 1337 moves.. and you certainly don't need to do them all in every dance ! I've been told on numerous occasions that I have a gentle smooth lead. not everyone wants flamboyant complicated dance moves, As long as you know enough for yourself so you don't get bored and can mix and match for variation then you'll do fine. Remember you're only dancing with each partner for the duration of one or two tracks. They won't care if you only know a handful of moves. As long as you are not getting bored.. sometimes less is more.
    5. Don't compare yourself to others You're probably not going to be as good as the championship winning couple who've been dancing together for 15 years.. You MIGHT be.. but probably not. If you continually fail to meet your impossible expectations.. you'll do as I did.. and have extended periods of no dancing or quit altogether.
    6. Have fun self explanatory really. if you have fun with your dancing, play with it a little you'll get more out of it.

    Now if I could only just follow my own advice
    Last edited by Beowulf; 19th-November-2008 at 02:47 PM.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    The best way to improve your dancing is to dance.

    The secret to dancing well is bluffing it: The more experienced a dancer, the more mistakes they will have made and the more they feel comfortable with stuff going "wrong".

    If you can laugh, have fun and "muck about" when dancing, then there is a very good chance that you will become a good dancer {just try not to do it during lessons }


    [edit] by "it" I mean mucking about [/edit]
    Last edited by Gadget; 19th-November-2008 at 02:53 PM.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gadget View Post
    The best way to improve your dancing is to dance...
    & watchthe good dancers.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    So much good advice already. The only thing I'd add is that if you're not feeling confident with a particular move (that you like and would like to add to your repetoire), ask the teacher/demo to go over it with you. They have also been in your position before, so not only should they understand your desire to improve, but they should be able to give you some assistance in 'cracking it'.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gadget View Post
    The secret to dancing well is bluffing it: The more experienced a dancer, the more mistakes they will have made and the more they feel comfortable with stuff going "wrong".
    That reminds me of something Deborah Szekely said in a class at Southport..

    Beginners make mistakes, Dancers make syncopations

    Phil_dB - I'd echo what a lot of others have said - have fun, and ensure you rotate partners. Freestyles and (dare I say it) weekenders are also good opportunities for progression as it may introduce you to more variety of dancers who don't necessarily attend the class you go to.

    Good luck with your journey

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    so many comments and fantastic advice, I wish I had the time to reply to everyone, - i've read all replies with great interest, - thank-you all.



    Quote Originally Posted by emmylou25 View Post
    and the thing about intermediates is that the moves are taught faster.
    Why is this?


    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadful Scathe View Post
    Ah yes, I remember when more moves seemed important - they're not though . To demonstrate what i mean - if you get hold of a competition dvd, any comp that has a "back to basix" or "beginners moves only" category and watch that - no one actually looks like a beginner, despite the moves they are doing
    I don't doubt you for a second, - unfortunately I find that I have little opportunity to actually hone my skills during beginners classes, (aside from watching the instructors more closely). I just repeat what i've learnt. The teacher's motivation seems to be to get everyone moving and dancing, - there are no instructors actually taking the time to watch people and offer pointers, - they're too busy dancing themselves.
    Maybe I need to watch more youtube videos


    Quote Originally Posted by Beowulf View Post
    Phil.. I know how you feel. I have never successfully made the leap from beginner to intermediate .. despite starting dancing in 2003
    I don't believe that for a second

    Quote Originally Posted by Beowulf View Post
    it's easy to convince yourself that "Actually I don't like this dancing lark and I'm not that good anyway " than it is to actually strive to better yourself.
    Yes, - so true!
    Reading your entire post, you do sound similar to me in some ways.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beowulf View Post
    2. Practice. Linked to above but can be done in any free moment you have.. waiting for the bus, waiting for the lift in the office just running over in your head some of the moves etc, trying them out when you have or haven't got a partner etc.
    Yes, this is key - I have been doing this, - and I think I gave the impression to people that I was a fast learner because of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beowulf View Post
    3. Relax. ............ take bits out of things you can use again.
    Even though last night wasnt the best of nights, I do believe that I learnt at least a couple of things, I was just disappointed that I didnt learn the moves as well as I know I am capable of learning them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beowulf View Post
    4. Be happy with less. You don't need to learn 1337 moves.. and you certainly don't need to do them all in every dance ! I've been told on numerous occasions that I have a gentle smooth lead. not everyone wants flamboyant complicated dance moves, As long as you know enough for yourself so you don't get bored and can mix and match for variation then you'll do fine. Remember you're only dancing with each partner for the duration of one or two tracks. They won't care if you only know a handful of moves. As long as you are not getting bored.. sometimes less is more.
    Last week when freestyling, I felt like I could happily throw in any of the beginner moves I've learnt, - things really clicked, and I had some memorable dances and was really enjoying myself - last night I felt like I was "doing the same old thing, again and again" - and felt bored. Probably just had an 'off night'

    Quote Originally Posted by Beowulf View Post
    5. Don't compare yourself to others You're probably not going to be as good as the championship winning couple who've been dancing together for 15 years.. You MIGHT be.. but probably not. If you continually fail to meet your impossible expectations.. you'll do as I did.. and have extended periods of no dancing or quit altogether.
    This hit home with me, - I think I do set myself high standards, - in some ways i'm like immature & impatient child, - I want everything - *NOW* !!!


    Quote Originally Posted by Jan in Notts View Post
    ...but avoid row 1 - if the ladies have had to miss the last move there can be even more confusion when they come back on...
    Ah yes! Good thinking. That's what happened to me on my first intermediate lession, - a ridiculously complicated move was demonstrated whilst I stood at the side line, - then when I moved along, sods law I was paired up with a nasty cow with zero tolerance...


    Quote Originally Posted by ant View Post
    The best advise I can give is to stay in the beginners review class until they throw you out.
    Really?
    Finchley is a bit far from me, i'm not far from Leatherhead, Surrey. I know Ginger Jive in Frimley do a Bridge Class, which i'm going to next week as a friend of mine goes there, - but again that's a little far to travel to every week.


    Quote Originally Posted by marcusj View Post
    loads of guys struggle in the Intermediate class with women commenting that they've done the class 25 different ways on the way round the rotation, if you're not getting it, i promise you you are not the only one !
    That did occur to me the other week when I came out of the beginners lesson early... - I found the (usually smug & very accomplished ) intermediates were all struggling, laughing and generally all over the place, - I just assumed that I walked into a particular difficult lesson!


    Quote Originally Posted by HelenB View Post
    ..and (dare I say it) weekenders are also good opportunities for progression as it may introduce you to more variety of dancers who don't necessarily attend the class you go to.
    I'm afraid that I would get bored doing freestyle at weekenders having to repeat the same moves, - although the daytime workshops sound brill

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_dB View Post
    I'm afraid that I would get bored doing freestyle at weekenders having to repeat the same moves, - although the daytime workshops sound brill
    The moves should not be what you dance for. If you're bored, listen to the music more.

    Weekenders are great for learning very fast - apart from anything else, there will be a few people who want to learn moves, and you can spend all day reminding yourself of the routines you've done if you want.

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