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Thread: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor View Post
    ...... all down to the "semi-circle to the left and both step back" that precedes every move.
    Not true:

    What about the semi-circle to the right ? (Somewhat facetiously as befits this nitpicking.)

    Or, more seriously, that the semi-circle is only used once; at the start of a move, or at the start of a sequence of moves. Thus, at worst, just one semi-circle per dance for those who choose to do so.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    {Forgive me for mixing quotes a bit, but they are in context}
    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor View Post
    I'm still teaching the in and out stepping on turns and returns that gives the swingy elasticity. What I'm not teaching is the pointless/mindless back-step at the start of every move.
    ~
    I see no problem with teaching the guy to step back when that's what's required for the move. It's the slavish step back at the start of every move that I disagree with. For instance, when you're doing a cross-body move there is no requirement to step back at all, you need to step to the side to clear the lady's path. A back step still leaves you in her path.
    In term of geometry on the dance floor, what is a "cross-body move"? Where the follower crosses in front of the lead and they swap places? That's not the first-move as I know it: The follower is at the lead's side and pivots out from there. They don't actually cross the lead's body. If by this term you mean any move where the lead has to step out of the way of the follower, then I can only think on one move where this should not happen: The in-and-out.
    It shouldn't matter if your partner passes in front or behind you or comes to your side - you still have to move out of the way of the follower's path.

    My conclusion therefore is that (as you say) you should step back after a turn or return. Now I am posed with this question: If a return or turn is the common linking movement between moves, is teaching a step back here appropriate? Since (following the above geometry) the next move you do does not require a step back.

    To me it sounds like you are trying to impose the WCS dynamics onto MJ. (Both 'swing' dances - just different ways to get "that swing")

    This pointless backstep is there because it's part of the "semi-cicle to the left and both step back" that starts the teaching of every move at many classes.
    It appears to me that you have thrown the baby out with the bath water by linking the step back with the semi-circle you detest so much.

    People know my opinion of the semi-circle and many of the best teachers, even in Ceroc, have abandoned this pointless gesture. If it were essential, as Gadget seems to imply, it would be impossible to teach the dance without it - this is simply not the case. IMO it is impossible to do the dance smoothly if you continue to do it.
    ~
    IMHO a huge number of the bad habits you see in MJ are all down to the "semi-circle to the left and both step back" that precedes every move. If you don't do those things you will not end up with those habits.
    Essential? No. As I stated, it makes it easier for most* followers to start dancing from a 'cold start'
    *ie. "advanced" dancers will have established their 'frame' and a connection with their partner before the first movement of the dance - for everyone else, it's a breath to compose themselves.

    The only "bad habits" I can think on that could be attributed to the 'semi-circle and step back' are taking a huge step back and bouncing the hands. And in my experience, these are normally addressed during the class. What other bad habits could it introduce to make this a huge number?
    (And by not teaching the SCSB, you will eliminate these habits? The sole cause of bouncing and large steps back is the SCSB? :doubtful: )

    Impossible to dance smoothly if you continue to semi-circle? That's a massive over-statement, commonly called a blatant lie. If the semi-circle has anything to do with the smoothness of your dancing, it's waaaaaaaay down the list of other things that effect it.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gadget View Post
    {Essential? No. As I stated, it makes it easier for most* followers to start dancing from a 'cold start'
    *ie. "advanced" dancers will have established their 'frame' and a connection with their partner before the first movement of the dance - for everyone else, it's a breath to compose themselves.

    The only "bad habits" I can think on that could be attributed to the 'semi-circle and step back' are taking a huge step back and bouncing the hands. And in my experience, these are normally addressed during the class. What other bad habits could it introduce to make this a huge number?
    (And by not teaching the SCSB, you will eliminate these habits? The sole cause of bouncing and large steps back is the SCSB? :doubtful: )

    Impossible to dance smoothly if you continue to semi-circle? That's a massive over-statement, commonly called a blatant lie. If the semi-circle has anything to do with the smoothness of your dancing, it's waaaaaaaay down the list of other things that effect it.
    As a long time critic of Gadget’s technical advice, I never though I’d see this day come to pass. I actually agree with what Gadget has said here - and I dislike the semi-circle as much as virtually anyone else on this thread!

    I think the semi-circle is unnecessary and can be a factor in hindering the development of useful connection skills, but I think Andy is overstating it’s influence by quite an bit.
    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor
    IMHO a huge number of the bad habits you see in MJ are all down to the "semi-circle to the left and both step back" that precedes every move. If you don't do those things you will not end up with those habits.
    The semi-circle isn’t taught at my local venues, but you still see people occasionally locking their arms out and bending at the waist when stepping apart. You still hear the girls complain about yankers. You still have guys who don’t lead very clearly (or at all!). You still find girls who wiggle so much without maintaining any connection they’re just about impossible to lead into anything. Perhaps it’s the step back that causes all these issues Andy is referring to, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that may have more to do with the size of the steps than anything preceding it. There are, for example, plenty of dancers who both step apart and don’t do all these things.

    There are definitely ways to achieve the same thing as the step back is supposed to achieve without both partners stepping away from each other, but for every problem they potentially solve there’s another one they potential open up. At this point the details become more about personal preference and style than anything else though ,which is well outside the scope of this debate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy McGregor
    If it were essential, as Gadget seems to imply, it would be impossible to teach the dance without it - this is simply not the case.
    I propose a new game. Every time Andy tells us what other people are saying we make a deliberate attempt to go back to the original post where these supposed comments were made, and decide for ourselves if that’s what was intended. We can then give Andy a score out of 10 rating how creatively he’s had to interpret that post to reach the conclusion he has about it, and another score out of ten to see how well he’s managed to slip any misguiding interpretation unnoticed.

    On second thoughts…… it’d probably make the Qualifications thread balloon even more than it already has

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Hi Phil,

    I hope you have got what you were after from the first 2 pages and managed to filter through the rest of the posts containing some advice and some "mine is bigger than yours" posturing.

    I first started in Worthing and by the second week was also travelling to Brighton and London to attend various classes with various teachers. This accelerated my progress and also allowed me to pick out the bits of each persons teaching I liked. My local teacher in Worthing and Brighton also spent a lot of time with me after the lessons in the freestyle time giving me advice and feedback. I asked everyone who I respected as a dancer (as in, liked the way they danced) for feedback and they were very helpful.... Some feedback was great, some was not so great, I simply took on board what I considered at the time the great feedback.

    I consider travelling to various venues opens your eyes to what is possible and also shows you there is no wrong or right, just what you prefer and what you do not prefer.

    I have now moved to the Gold Coast and my local venue does a beginners class, followed by freestyle, then they do 3 classes - beginner revision for those who have been dancing up to 3 months, introduction to intermediate for those who have been dancing between 3 months and 6 months and intermediate where you must have been dancing MJ for over 6 months.

    In the beginner revision class they go back over the moves and add in tips and tricks, tension/compression, lead and follow, spinning techniques and footwork. They also look at everyone in the class and see if there is an area to focus on.

    In the introduction to intermediate class they do variations of the beginner moves. Again they look at everyone in the class and offer general feedback with out picking on an individual (i.e. if someone is struggling with something, they go into more detail on that, without singling people out). In this class they sometimes introduce a small dip and take time to explain body positioning and weight distribution to prepare them for the intermediate class where they might teach a dip or drop.

    The intermediate class is taught faster, as by the time you get there, you should have a good grounding in the basics and by that time most people can cope with a faster teaching style.

    My philosophy has always been, pick out the good and work on it, accept the bad, but do not hold onto it.

    Good luck on your journey

    Martin

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Hi Martin,

    yes, thank-you, - loads of helpful advice on this thread, - I have a plan of action and lots to be going forward and practicing with now, cheers.

    Sounds like you’ve got a nice venue near you now Martin, I like the sound of that format, and teachers going around looking at all the dancers is what I’ve seen at the workshops, and is exactly what I need, - but never on the refresher beginners classes. I’ve seen a few youtube videos of MJ in Oz, and the scene looks really good over there.

    You mention trying out different venues, this I have planned on; I’m going to “Ginger Jive” tomorrow night, next week “LeRoc”, and I’m going to try out some of the other “Ceroc” venues I’m yet to visit, I’m lucky in that I have many venues within 30 min drive of me. I also plan to continue with the beginner moves I know, and really get them & my freestyle properly nailed, - explore new sequences, - tighten up my lead (work on my positioning in relation to my partner, stepping in/out the ‘line of path’, keeping my elbow close to me – making sure I don’t hyper extend. Continue to hopefully improve my dancing style. I’ve also recently attended another Workshop and have been shown many variations of beginner moves, so in terms of new moves, I’ve got a few more to practice with to keep things varied a bit. And of course I’ll be seeking as much feedback as possible.

    Thanks for the words of encouragement, - its funny isn't it, - sometimes I come home elated after having such an amazing night of dancing, meeting new people etc, - and other nights you can get home fed up feeling like everything's going to pot!




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    Formerly known as DavidJames David Bailey's Avatar
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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by NZ Monkey View Post
    I propose a new game. Every time Andy tells us what other people are saying we make a deliberate attempt to go back to the original post where these supposed comments were made, and decide for ourselves if that’s what was intended. We can then give Andy a score out of 10 rating how creatively he’s had to interpret that post to reach the conclusion he has about it, and another score out of ten to see how well he’s managed to slip any misguiding interpretation unnoticed.
    I like it - better yet, let's make it a drinking game.

    • One drink every time Andy tells us what someone else is saying
    • One drink every time Andy mentions the semi-circle as the root of all evil
    • ...etc


    It's a winner

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    One sip for mentioning footwork, or does it have to be specific to the foot you step back on? ... erm... side-ways on?

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bailey View Post
    I like it - better yet, let's make it a drinking game.

    • One drink every time Andy tells us what someone else is saying
    • One drink every time Andy mentions the semi-circle as the root of all evil
    • ...etc


    It's a winner
    The downside is though, that too many of these drinks may lead to over-rotation of the room

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bailey View Post
    I like it - better yet, let's make it a drinking game.

    It's a winner


    Quote Originally Posted by Gojive View Post
    The downside is though, that too many of these drinks may lead to over-rotation of the room

    I'm a lightweight and won't be able to play this game for more than 4 minutes

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadful Scathe View Post
    I'm a lightweight and won't be able to play this game for more than 4 minutes
    as long as that ??????

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    4 mins? - that's only half of one of my posts! glad the game's not on me; you'd be carried away in an ambulance

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Hello all.

    Status report! I just wanted to say thank-you again to everyone who offered help in this thread. I feel that I am well over my stumbling block now! I am confident in the intermediate lessons, - I have managed to follow, AND freestyle every intermediate routine taught of late, - a few times follows have commented during the class that I was the only person they’ve dance with who has actually manged to lead the routine from start to finish, - which is massively encouraging, - and I know I wouldnt have made as much progress without some of the invaluable advice in this thread, - seriously I’m really enjoying dancing, & the suggestions here made such a huge difference, - I still go back and read bits and pieces which make more sense now than they did the first time. Obviously i’ve still loads to learn, - but I really feel like i’m slowly building a foundation progressing week on week.

    Changing the subject completely, - Its a shame this beginners forum is so quiet....?



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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    I have been attending Ceroc for about 3 months now, and I was getting near to that point where the intermediates was looming large. I 'know', in theory, the beginner moves (having been dragged through the intro DVD several times by a very enthusiastic wife), and those who started a little before me have now 'moved onto better things'.

    However, a couple of missed weeks conspired to keep me in the beginners and, to be honest, I am glad it has. I am now into a second rotation of classes and an influx of beginners, mostly of the female persuasion, has meant that my skills (for what they are) are in great demand during the recap sessions. I am now trying to concentrate on the finer points of the dance, as opposed to the A -> B -> C movements. I can laugh, and even talk, while dancing and the 's' word is getting used less often. I try to throw in the odd 'advanced' move I have been shown by kindly partners.

    I now enjoy my class nights , and am feeling more confident about party nights which is a great time to watch some real dancers.

    I therefore fall into the don't be in a rush to advance camp, and am enjoying the journey. Big thanks to all who have made it such fun so far.

    Next goal is to stop the 'step & block' part of my yo-yo being so calamitous, as one ungrateful partner, whom I shall refer to as the present Mrs W, has described it.

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

    Firstly welcome to the forum

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveW View Post
    I have been attending Ceroc for about 3 months now,
    However, a couple of missed weeks conspired to keep me in the beginners and, to be honest, I am glad it has. I am now into a second rotation of classes and an influx of beginners, mostly of the female persuasion, has meant that my skills (for what they are) are in great demand during the recap sessions. I am now trying to concentrate on the finer points of the dance, as opposed to the A -> B -> C movements. I can laugh, and even talk, while dancing and the 's' word is getting used less often. I try to throw in the odd 'advanced' move I have been shown by kindly partners.
    i completely agree
    As a taxi I have seen this several times and most of the people who keep coming to the practice session will get a huge confidence boost by being able to easily do the moves we are practicing especially when they see the new influx coming through and realise they have made a huge improvement to their dancing from when they first started

    My advice, (although the teacher will always say 6 wks or under for the practice session) always is stay in it until you feel comfortable making the step to the intermediate class

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveW View Post
    Next goal is to stop the 'step & block' part of my yo-yo being so calamitous, as one ungrateful partner, whom I shall refer to as the present Mrs W, has described it.
    just tell her you wont dance with her again i mean some people are so ungrateful

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

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveW View Post
    I have been attending Ceroc for about 3 months now, and I was getting near to that point where the intermediates was looming large. I 'know', in theory, the beginner moves (having been dragged through the intro DVD several times by a very enthusiastic wife), and those who started a little before me have now 'moved onto better things'.

    However, a couple of missed weeks conspired to keep me in the beginners and, to be honest, I am glad it has. I am now into a second rotation of classes and an influx of beginners, mostly of the female persuasion, has meant that my skills (for what they are) are in great demand during the recap sessions. I am now trying to concentrate on the finer points of the dance, as opposed to the A -> B -> C movements. I can laugh, and even talk, while dancing and the 's' word is getting used less often. I try to throw in the odd 'advanced' move I have been shown by kindly partners.

    I now enjoy my class nights , and am feeling more confident about party nights which is a great time to watch some real dancers.

    I therefore fall into the don't be in a rush to advance camp, and am enjoying the journey. Big thanks to all who have made it such fun so far.

    Hi Steve, - always interesting to hear other how other's journey's are going, - glad to read you're enjoying things



    Quote Originally Posted by SteveW View Post
    Next goal is to stop the 'step & block' part of my yo-yo being so calamitous, as one ungrateful partner, whom I shall refer to as the present Mrs W, has described it.
    It's great that you have a "live-in dance partner" you can practice & go over things with

    I hope you don't mind me sharing what a (brilliant!) LeRoc instructor told us at a workshop recently: Blocking could be compared with catching a cricket ball. When you catch, you dont stop the ball DEAD in it's path, - you slow the ball down by retreating your arms to absorb the impact. Obviously a Follow won't be generating the same amount of force, but the principle's the same in terms of slowing her down (block) and then speeding her up (pushing/leading her the other way); smooth instead of jerky.

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveW View Post
    I try to throw in the odd 'advanced' move I have been shown by kindly partners.
    Don't worry about those too much though. Some of us are still only using 6 beginners moves as a whole repetoire nearly 5 years on!

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveW View Post
    I have been attending Ceroc for about 3 months now, and I was getting near to that point where the intermediates was looming large. I 'know', in theory, the beginner moves (having been dragged through the intro DVD several times by a very enthusiastic wife), and those who started a little before me have now 'moved onto better things'.

    However, a couple of missed weeks conspired to keep me in the beginners and, to be honest, I am glad it has. I am now into a second rotation of classes and an influx of beginners, mostly of the female persuasion, has meant that my skills (for what they are) are in great demand during the recap sessions. I am now trying to concentrate on the finer points of the dance, as opposed to the A -> B -> C movements. I can laugh, and even talk, while dancing and the 's' word is getting used less often. I try to throw in the odd 'advanced' move I have been shown by kindly partners.

    I now enjoy my class nights , and am feeling more confident about party nights which is a great time to watch some real dancers.

    I therefore fall into the don't be in a rush to advance camp, and am enjoying the journey. Big thanks to all who have made it such fun so far.

    Next goal is to stop the 'step & block' part of my yo-yo being so calamitous, as one ungrateful partner, whom I shall refer to as the present Mrs W, has described it.
    I'm very much in the same boat. DTS has shown me a couple of variations on beginners moves to keep pushing me - it's keeping me highly motivated!

    I have a very self-competitive nature so always want to learn more. Add that to an attention span measured in micro seconds means I want to get on the intermediate stuff straight away!

    Mental Note to Self: Walk -> Run -> Fly

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_dB View Post
    It's great that you have a "live-in dance partner" you can practice & go over things with
    Only true if they are not overly critical - when I first started to learn my lovely wife did more harm than good with her inputs so I simply chose not to practice at home

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Agente Secreto View Post
    Only true if they are not overly critical - when I first started to learn my lovely wife did more harm than good with her inputs so I simply chose not to practice at home
    But look at you now.....

    Pleasepleaseplease save me a dance or ten in Skegport?

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    Re: Bridging the gap from Beginner to Intermediate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_dB View Post

    .........


    I hope you don't mind me sharing what a (brilliant!) LeRoc instructor told us at a workshop recently: Blocking could be compared with catching a cricket ball. When you catch, you dont stop the ball DEAD in it's path, - you slow the ball down by retreating your arms to absorb the impact. Obviously a Follow won't be generating the same amount of force, but the principle's the same in terms of slowing her down (block) and then speeding her up (pushing/leading her the other way); smooth instead of jerky.
    Great advice, and there's a nice opportunity here to throw in perhaps your first ronde with the left leg as you come round to block and carry through the lead into the follower's turn. All in one smooth action as you iron out the beginner jerkiness.

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