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Thread: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

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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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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    I'd disagree - to a point - with the "less moves are better" crowd, I've modified my thinking on that recently.

    Learning a shed-load of moves, within MJ, is actually useful as part of the early learning process. It teaches you different possibilities, and different ways in which you can move yourself and your partner.

    The danger lies in the "only moves" mentality - where moves are thought of as the dance.

    So I don't think there's a problem in learning 200+ moves, at least for the first year or so. But ideally there should be at least some technique learnt simultaneously.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Here are some jottings that may help:

    - Have fun.
    - Making little mistakes is part of the fun. If you both smile through it I would say you're still having a dance experience.
    - Even when your brain is boggling faster than you thought it ever could try to listen to the music and react to its mood and any changes. To me this is more important than adding new moves to your repertoire.
    - I found grouping moves by hold useful (left hand, right hand, double hand etc) and I did write them down. You sound like you're past that stage.
    - Have fun.
    - Beginner moves done well are much better looking, and more fun for the follower, than intermediate moves that you haven't quite mastered yet. Most beginners (definitely including me when I started) think they need to know more moves to be better dancers. As has been said already, this is simply not the case.
    - Nearly all the ladies who dance are kind to beginners (although you've obviously found one who isn't!). Ask anybody to dance but let her be the one to ask for a second dance.
    - Having little strings of moves/mini-routines is useful early on. (But as you get better ease off a bit as too long a mini-routine tends to lead to moves being imposed on the music rather than the music guiding the dance.)
    - Eye contact can be a nice part of leading. I'd recommend neutral/mildly friendly eyes with an occasional smile to start with.
    - Have fun.
    - If you regard making your partner enjoy the dance as your top priority that can help as it takes your focus away from yourself and makes you less self-conscious. When you dance with a really fab lady dancer it is reassuring to think that anyone watching is looking at her not her lead.
    - Did I mention having fun?

    Best of luck

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    The other thing I used to do was visit other franchises, Le Jive, Leroc, where the beginner moves were different. In Clapham I even did the beginner class at Leroc and then moved over the road for the Ceroc Intermediate and freestyle.

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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 followerís point of view:

    I donít mind if the lead I am dancing with doesnít get it in class or in freestyle, provided he appears to be trying (i.e. listening to the teacherís advice) and doesnít try to start apportioning blame towards me if he leads it badly and the move doesnít 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 arenít sure what youíre 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 partnerís 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 doesnít 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 donít 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 donít realise that it doesnít 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 wonít matter; as you get better you wonít 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 donít 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 Godís 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 Ė firstly it hurts, secondly it illustrates to me that the lead has no interest in their partnerís experience of the dance, and thirdly it indicates that he hasnít 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.

    Itís lovely to dance with a really good lead, but an inexperienced lead isnít 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 Ė they obviously arenít going to be my best dances of the night, but I donít feel Iím 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 itís 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 betterÖyou can really feel the progress and know that by being supportive you are increasing someoneís 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.

    I was paying attention, but there were some posts slipped in while I was typing mine!

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    [Originally Posted by Phil _dB
    Really?
    When I started one of the best MJ dancers I know gave me that advise. He said however much you may think you know those beginner moves you don't and when you go up to the intermediate class if you have not got them totally nailed your technique will go right out of the window and how true he was. I stayed in the beginners review class for 4 months before they threw me out. I know it gets a bit boring but it pays dividends in the long run.
    Originally Posted by Phil_dB
    I know Ginger Jive in Frimley do a Bridge Class, which i'm going to next week as a friend of mine goes there,
    Exactly what I would do

    Originally Posted by Phil_dB
    i'm not far from Leatherhead, Surrey
    I will be at Ashead next Saturday for the Le Roc Surrey freestyle. If you feel like going PM me and we can meet up for a drink.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by ant View Post
    I stayed in the beginners review class for 4 months before they threw me out.
    Pah, that's nothing, I was in it for over a year.

    To be honest, I reckon 4 months is the minimum for moving on up from beginners to intermediates anyway.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bailey View Post
    Pah, that's nothing, I was in it for over a year.

    To be honest, I reckon 4 months is the minimum for moving on up from beginners to intermediates anyway.

    I don't know about you but I went five times a week (Finchley twice, St Albans twice and the Casbah) and did two, four hour beginner workshops as well. The only reason I moved up was because they said I couldn't go to the review class anymore. When I did move up I totally freaked out and they had to arrange these bridging lessons for me.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Masses of good stuff already.

    Don't rush the move to 'intermediates' and look on it as some kind of advancement thing where you're failing if you don't do it quickly and stay as a beginner for 'too long'. Maybe for this reason my local venue calls the second session 'cool 'n confident' since it takes away any assumed stigma for staying in beginners.

    Don't be bored with beginner moves - they are your safety net and many of the follows will tell you that they'd rather dance with someone that can do a 6-10 beginner moves well, in time to the music and with some feeling than the 'moves monster' that drags them around the floor with his arms flailing all over the place doing complex moves badly. I've been dancing a couple of years and some nights I fall back on a sort of 'begginers with attitude' approach if I'm a bit stressed with work - the ladies I dance with seem to like that fine.

    Never try to pick up all of the moves you're being taught in class - pick on one that you like and practice it. Ask the teacher to show you personally if you're getting a move that you like wrong since it's not possible to make sure everyone gets all of the moves in the class. I've attended lots of venues for class nights and some times I still fail to get the moves being taught - I suppose that all you need is the confidence to shrug this off and that will come with time.

    And do move around - when I first started doing workshops my wife liked to stay fixed and it held us back (and caused several arguments).

    That being said it's all about confidence, so you're doing the right thing by confirming that you're not some kind of dancing failure and that every one of the leads on this forum will have experienced just what you are experiencing at some point.

    Agent 000
    Licensed to Dance

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Shed-loads of great advice already. Here are a few of my thoughts (apologies for any repetition as I have only skimmed through the thread);

    - Don't compare, I know it is very hard not to but everyone has a different level of ability and picks things up at different speeds.

    - Especially don't compare with the ladies, they will almost certainly seem to progress faster than you simply because they don't actually have to learn the beginner moves as thoroughly as leaders do.

    - Never assume that you "know" the beginner moves. There are almost always going to be ways you could improve them. Keep doing the review class. Experiment with beginner classes run by different teachers as you can quite often pick up new things that way.

    - Don't try to move up to the intermediate class too early. It's a common mistake and often a source of grief.

    - A workshop which covers some of the classic moves is a good idea before you start in the intermediate class

    - Never expect that you will be able to learn all the moves in an intermediate routine and put them straight into free-style. If you can do that with one move you are doing well.

    - Be very selective about moves. Only try to learn the ones that suit your style of dancing and that you can execute smoothly with a clear lead.

    - There is no number of moves that you must have to be a good dancer, in fact trying to execute too many moves is one of the commonest mistakes. Your follower certainly wont be counting them. You need far less moves than you might think.

    - Start with some simple variations of the beginner moves.

    - Watch the good leads and try to copy some of their simpler moves, not every move will ever be taught in a class

    - Do a weekender

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Don't presume that a dance which is boring for you is also boring for your follower. One of the downsides to leading in MJ is the inevitable boredom with your own repertoire of moves - note the word 'inevitable', it happens to us all no matter how experienced or new to the dance we may be.

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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.

    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]
    As usual Gadget has got it wrong. Does he do it on purpose? The best way to improve your dancing is to get some coaching or training and then practice what you've been taught. To dance and dance without training is a sure way to develop bad habits. As they say, it's ten times as hard to shift a bad habit compared to developing a good habit - do not let yourself get bad habits.

    Some of the best advice I can give you is to ignore the well-meaning but unqualifed and amateur advice of untrained dancers who think they have the answers.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_dB View Post
    Why is this?
    One of the reasons that the lesson is taught faster is that the dancers already have some MJ experience. There is an expectation that everyone in the intermedate lesson knows the beginners moves. This means that the teach of a beginners move variation can go something like "this move starts like a first move but changes after you turn the lady out on beat 5". You shouldn't have to spend too much time on what you do up to beat 5 as they should already know.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by bigdjiver View Post
    The other thing I used to do was visit other franchises, Le Jive, Ceroc, where the beginner moves were different. .......




    I would agree. Some beginner and intermediate classes are more advanced than others

    There can be a very big jump from beginners to intermediates but sometimes you have just got to step outside your comfort zone

    but I know that a lot easier said than done


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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by robd View Post
    Don't presume that a dance which is boring for you is also boring for your follower. One of the downsides to leading in MJ is the inevitable boredom with your own repertoire of moves - note the word 'inevitable', it happens to us all no matter how experienced or new to the dance we may be.
    It isn't just MJ either.... it's leading. Period.

    If you can play with the moves so that they're being influenced by the music it's a whole lot better. Personally I'm also a proponent of actively trying to rotate* through moves that I commonly use in freestyle. Not only to keep me sharp by leading different types of move, but also for my own sanity.

    *I say rotate, because rather than my repertoire steadily increasing over time, one move seems to fall out for every one I manage to include

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Gadget
    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".
    As usual Gadget has got it wrong. Does he do it on purpose?
    I think Gadget is correct to a certain extent. I would disagree with the phrase 'The best way' in his quote but otherwise I do believe that 'just' dancing is a way to improve your dancing. I acknowledge the accusation commonly levelled at this of 'just practicing your mistakes' but there are some things (I am thinking especially of reacting to unexpected following and compensation) that only dancefloor miles will help you to feel confident in dealing with. I see quite a few people who've been doing WCS classes for a while (yes, I know we are discussing MJ but the principle's the same) yet rarely dance much in the freestyle. For what reason, I do not know but I do know that their dance is not progressing as well as it would if they had done more social dancing.

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