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DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by kaiara
3/13/2008  11:54:00 AM
My husband loves to dance with me, but he hates classes. So I keep looking at the DVD instructions offered on this site and thinking it might be good for us. I have been to dance classes, and have a partner, but want to get my new husband dancing so we can go out together and have fun.

Any suggestions between International and American Smooth? I think the classes I took were basically American Waltz with some International in the workshops I took--but for the life of me, I haven't done enough to have any feel for the differences.

I'd like to choose one, and teach my hubby.

Can anyone recommend one over the other?

What are the differences between International and American?

Thank you all so much!

Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by breador
3/13/2008  12:14:00 PM
I'be bought 3 of the american style DVDs and I like them alot. For social dancers who are beginers (basically me), I think the american style smooth and rythm is alittle simplier and easier to pick up.
Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by kaiara
3/13/2008  3:18:00 PM
I keep reading how there is more technique training in International, and how American fits the smaller dance floors better. So now I am still confused.

I want technique. For me, 3/4 of the pleasure is in fewer moves done beautifully. I would like to make my basics sing with beauty. I believe my instructor taught us mostly American, but also some International. She put emphasis on technique for those of us who wanted it; so when I look at the American Bronze and Silver DVD's most all the movements on both are familiar.

Yet, hubby is not exactly a dancer. I've way more experience than he has, and he needs things broken down so he can learn it correctly the first time--again, perhaps technique is more important for him as well.

I am willing to put in the time and effort to get really good at the basics.

And I am no closer to deciding between the videos than before I went all over this board reading.

To restate the question: Given that I intend to purchase one of the Bronze level DVDs shown on this site--which one has the better instruction? Which is clearer for the raw beginner (my hubby) yet gives enough detail to help me improve as well?

I appreciate input!
Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by phil.samways
3/14/2008  5:56:00 AM
Hi Kaiara
If your hubby is still fighting to learn basic figures, i would recommend a video/DVD which shows the leg and footwork very clearly. Not too much emphasis on technique except correct footwork.
International style, with its closed hold, will 'force' you to develop your technique, since it is less forgiving than American style. (I know many will disagree with this).
In the past i bought tapes by Augusto Schiavo and Caterina Arzenton (http://w-w-w.dancesport.uk.com/video/index.htm.)
They're a little dated, but i think you'd find them useful. I'm sure there are lots of good ones out there which i've not seen.
Just one other tip - work on your hubby's posture from day 1. This is much harder to get right than any footwork
Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by Ladydance
3/14/2008  7:43:00 AM
Since you just want to "go out and have fun", I'd suggest American style. There is no way you can do an international foxtrot in social setting, for example. Your hubby needs to learn basic steps and floorcraft.He has to feel like he is dancing and drillling technique with the basic steps gets boring. We had an instructor that taught that way and, sure our basic chacha was awesome but since we could do nothing else we died of boredom on the dance floor. And as Phil said, work on posture. It is very easy to learn to dance in your living room looking down at your feet the whole time, but quite a different thing when you are on a dance floor with people around you.
Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by cdroge
3/14/2008  1:23:00 PM
It depends on where you live. I dance international which is fine for were I live ,but on my trips down south I find that most people dance American style. The problem is not the style but the Music. The Waltz and foxtrots are to fast for international, the tango's are ok, no quicksteps. The Bolero to slow for Rumba and the square Rumba to fast for international Rumba. Cha Cha's and jives are fine.
Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by Serendipidy
3/14/2008  2:23:00 PM
I think Phil was the only one who mentioned the closed hold in the International Style of Ballroom dancing.
To make it clearer In the American Smooth there are steps where the man and lady are apart. Solo Turns and whatever.
In the International Style Standard there is no seperation at all.
In the Latin of both styles is a different story.
If you go to Learn the Dances on this site and go between the International Style and the American Smooth you will see the main differences.
Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by kaiara
3/15/2008  6:44:00 AM
Actually, I have gone to the Learn the Dances on this site and am confused still.

Hubby is a physicist and Engineer--he wants it all broken down and the physics of the moves explained--I keep telling him that is unlikely to be out there at all.

On youtube I found a couple of videos that show the steps, but there was nothing on posture in this and honestly, if all I want is to stop around the floor I can get lots of partners for that! I mean, our Square dance group is fun--but mostly just rhythm and following directions. The Round Dance group is fun but lacks those things that set ballroom apart from the called dances.

Hubby has agreed to learn to do this properly so that dancing with him will be fun for me--he doesn't care. What is fun for him is reading blogs on politics and science then discussing the readings for hours.

I read blogs, think and discuss--HE is going to learn to dance a good Waltz!

So I guess I now go purchase the American Bronze level DVD and hope that it helps him....

But the Alex Moore book breaks things down better and does not seem to follow the American...

Diagrams....are there diagrams out there?

Doesn't ANYONE do a video that gives close-up instruction on the footwork for the steps, and separately handles the posture?

Ah well, thanks for the help, I'll be back to check for more advice because I haven't purchased the DVD yet!

Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by cdroge
3/15/2008  8:44:00 AM
Kaiara. The main advantage to learning international style is that it is easy to later switch to American style but the reverse is not so, also if you plan on spending any length of time in another country or like to travel a lot you will always find somewhere to dance international style .
Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by terence2
3/16/2008  1:56:00 AM
Youve been given a lot of " mixed " info here.

Have trained numerous Prof. and amat in both styles .

Your 1st consideration should always be usage. If you are only interested in the social aspect ( tho there are comps in Amer. ) then the Amer style Br. will suit your needs .

Also -- there is as much " techn. " involved in the execution of this standard if taught and danced correctly.

I have a HUGE disagreement with the non contact approach in the smooth. My staff were always trained ( as are my students ) to dance in closed position, and taught to lead with the body, from day one .

The reason that Amer. smooth Br. was taught in an apart position was due to the social climate that existed when first introduced in the 30s/40s .It still persists in most " chain " schools to this day . (I always changed the concept when I coached in them )

As to open work, which someone mentioned , that really does not need to come into play for quite sometime .

NOW the most important thing for you to know- you will NEVER learn how to dance from a video. They are made to ASSIST your practical application , and knowledge gleaned from lessons, a tool , if you will .

There is no substitute for the class or private lesson-- a video cannot answer questions !
Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by SmoothGeezer
3/16/2008  7:49:00 AM
From reading the posts so far, you should be able to see that there are advantages to both styles of dance, and a few things that one style does better than the other. For a beginner I would choose the style done by most of the people in your area. There will be more teachers in your area teaching that style also. If you decide you really like dance and want to expand your ability, latter you can take lessons in the other style, but for a beginner chose only one and stick with it until you are good.

Terence already gave you the bad news, you really can't learn to dance from a video. Videos are good for picking up additional steps after you have learned the basic techniques, and they are a good supplement for classes. However if getting hubby into the classroom is the problem, maybe a video will help kindle enough interest to get him to consider some classes. You should be able to pick up some step patterns for the different dances from a video, but you will find that picking up technique is difficult to impossible for a beginner.

There are a couple of major problems you will have when trying to learn for a video. You won't be able to recognize if what you are doing is correct or not. As a beginner, what you think you are doing and what is really happening are usually not the same. If you video tape yourself and compare that to the video, you may be able to see they are not the same, but you won't be able to figure out what to do to correct it. However, go ahead and purchase that video and see if you can get some interest going for hubby.

Your next step should be to find a group class taught by a good instructor who also makes it fun. Yes there are some of those. Look for an independent instructor, not classes taught by chain studios. After that you will discover some more bad news, you really can't learn all of the technique from group classes. However, at this point, anything you can do to get hubby interested in learning is a good thing.
Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by nucat78
3/24/2008  1:38:00 PM
Well, I was trained as an astronomer, worked as an engineer and now am pretty much an accountant, so I might understand your husband's mindset.

As has been said, a video alone is not going to cut it. I have learned some steps from videos (American Bronze) but I take group lessons mainly and supplement the lessons with videos.

I'm fortunate in that my studio sells their own DVDs so the DVDs show exactly what is done in class.

There are dance manuals available online that might appeal to your husband - everything is laid out in a grid. Again, they won't substitute for lessons, but I like them as an adjunct.

I have no knowledge of the quality of the videos offered on this site.

Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by rezamolavi
3/27/2008  9:55:00 AM
There are great many opinions out there and many ways to answer them. I'll give you my two cents as I have studied and have been competing in both styles. Furthermore, I am a dance DVD junkie and have a very large collection of them from all over the world.
Allow me to share my experience with you. First comment on the styles. I believe and in practice that you can do both styles socially and competitively. And yes, you can dance Standard Foxtrot socially; it is a matter of skills. The major difference is closed hold at all times in Standard and mixed mode in Smooth. The other major difference in the tempi of the music. According to the competition syllabus Waltz is the same, Standard Foxtrot is 28-29 and Smooth is 30-32, Standard Tango is danced at 32 and Smooth is 30. Viennese Waltz in Standard is 59-60 and Smooth is 52-54. There is no Quickstep in the Smooth curriculum as of yet.
There are technical differences in the individual figures and syllabus steps between the two disciplines. But as a new dancer it not come to play much of a role especially in the social setting. And, this is not a place to get into that level of detail.
One style will not prohibit or hinder the other; in fact, they complement each other. In Standard, the technique of dancing in closed hold with help the Smooth closed positions and Smooth individual balance and movement helps personal balance and independence and personal expressions. The basics of the dance, balance, posture, hold, moving the center through the feet, and setting one feet in front of there is used in both styles just the same.
As for dance DVDs, it has been mentioned before, they can be an aid and supplement. Relying solely on video training will guarantee you the opposite of what you are looking for. There is no "feel" involved in the video. An Instructor, as gifted as they may be, will not be able to communicate that feeling to you. And more importantly, what you see in demos and instructional dance videos, is never what you think you are seeing or it is what you think it is. There is so much going on inside those frames that is not possible to discuss in the video.
These videos are produced by some of the best in the field; they will make it look easy and simple. That is what they do. They take things for granted most of the times and there is never enough time to break things down as they should. No one will sit through them.
Here is how I use tapes. After of about a year of serious dancing with private and group lessons. I began to understand the elements and basics that I needed to learn to be a better dancer. I watched tapes and demos. Looked that the choreography and interesting figures I wished to learn. I took those materials to my coaches and asked them for direction, clarification, and explanation. My coaches appreciate the fact that I do not try to learn new material on my own and they have to undo and redo them. After 4 years, I have a better sense of what is being presented in the video lectures and which areas I can do on my own and which areas I am clueless.
Nothing will EVER and I mean EVER takes the place of one on one coaching with a well qualified coach. As a beginner, the group classes and dance partied were the only sure way to get comfortable on the dance floor and retain what was being taught. Especially if you are a social dancer this is the ONLY way to learn. As a competitor things change in a dramatic way.
Well, I hope you get him on the dance floor and in the group classes quickly. I am an engineer and know exactly what you and your coaches are going to deal with. After four years, I am just allowing myself to shut my head off and just listen and allow the music to dictate what I must do. This is an art after all and should be treated that way. It is very difficult for people like us not break things down so much. If I danced like I think, I would dance like a robot (as I did for a while). My dancing was very technical, careful, and mechanical. It was not artistic or flowy ; movement was small and ridged. Make him aware of this. He can think his way through it with analysis, but he will be a paralyzed dancer. Once he lets go of it, he and you will enjoy it soooooooooooo much more.
Well here is my two cents……….good luck with coaching and happy dancing…….reza.
Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by kaiara
5/29/2008  7:56:00 PM
Well, I finally found a beginners DVD that does break things down the way hubby needs it. I liked how the dancers showed the step, then each time they repeat it, they explain a different aspect. It is the way hubby learns.

A friend is teaching us because hubby doesn't like the way the one teacher locally works. She expects everyone to pick up the steps quickly and hubby doesn't work at that speed.

Well, there is another instructor but she only teaches classes of mixed dance and I don't want to learn five different dances at once, I want us to work on Waltz.

Hubby is doing wonderfully, as he learns, his body seems to remember the steps even if he gets flustered and insists he cannot remember the steps he has learned. When he stops analyzing and just dances he is quite GOOD!

He has such good posture that frame is actually not an issue, and he has been a really wonderful lead from day one.

Our friend added a room to his house for dance, he can do five couples or two squares comfortably. He and his wife enjoy having evenings for various types of dancing so people can come practice. This also means there are always several people around to give feedback.

We are having FUN!

Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by kaiara
6/9/2008  9:40:00 AM
This discussion helped me a good deal. I had taken lessons over a years period so most of what hubby is learning I am comfortable doing.

I took my questions back to my previous instructor and she clarified that her classes are primarily American, but she also has taught a little bit of International. Mostly people around here dance socially.

I just want to be really GOOD at it.

Hubby still wants DVD's but I'm hoping to talk him into a few private lessons in conjunction with the DVD's--DVD's being homework.

This whole field is complex and confusing. For me, it is very important to have good technique and style, not just a few steps. Most anyone can get around the floor doing steps--I want to DANCE.

Anyone understand what I mean by differentiating the doing steps and dancing?

I knew two girls in high school who played piano, one was note perfect but there was not heart in her perfectly executed pieces of music, the other girl would make the occasional error, but her playing on the piano brought the piece to LIFE, it was music in a way that the perfect note perfect playing was not. (I always hoped that the note perfect girl grew up and let her heart pour into it so that she made music too but I moved away and shall never know.)

Lots of people do steps around the floor, I want to really DANCE. Maybe not every variation out there, but each step I learn I want it to move from step step step into DANCE.

I hope I am making sense and not just being foolish here.
Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by Babamm
6/25/2008  8:09:00 AM
Can anyone recommend the DVDs about American Ballroom by the USISTD????
Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by MamboManic
5/30/2011  2:34:00 PM
Babamm, I have seen the American style bronze and silver videos from the USISTD, I even took their bronze exams after dancing other styles for many years. The videos are very clear and show all the foot positions for every figure, but they are geared for preparing for the professional exams. They don't explain anything beyond what would be in the manual. I would say the same thing about the ISTD International Latin videos too.

The videos from DanceVision are more suited to people learning to dance. I'm not familiar with the videos from this site.
Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by Suleima
6/26/2008  1:11:00 AM
Try the DVD's "Anyone can Dance" with Donald Johnson and Kasia Kozak (dancevison.com). I have two left feet and the hubby is a nerdy engineer in IT support. The instructions on the DVD breaks down the steps which are repeated several times for both partners. You work your way up in sections. At the end of each section, your are able perform a little dance with 2-3 variations which means that after a few weeks fun at home you are ready for the dance floor anywhere!
Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by kaiara
5/3/2009  9:16:00 AM
I picked up the "Anyone Can Dance" videos and love them, then I decided on American Smooth, and purchased the bronze DVDs and the books (DVIDA) for the charts, and then I talked hubby into a private lesson and got him to agree to doing more.

I also liked How prettily Kasia Kosak moves her hands, and I picked up a DVD that is just her...don't recall what it is called but it was something "body awareness" and I really love how it helps me to feel what my body is doing when I move! I think it will help my dancing!

Now I am pregnant and my bad knee cannot handle the pregnancy and dancing so I'm stuck on hold until I finally give birth. 9 months feels like forever!

So I am on here reading the conversations like some dance starved fool. LOL!

But we know this is a little girl and I can hardly wait to teach her to dance!
Re: DVD dance instruction--recommendations?
Posted by MamboManic
5/30/2011  2:00:00 PM

I'm glad the dancing worked out so well for you and your hubby. Did you go back to dancing after the baby? Usually, it takes around twenty years for couples to get back to dancing after a baby. If you are dancing, please come back here and post a video.
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