Arthur Murray is a franchise they play by their own rules if you don't like it leave. Thats the message I was given and don't make waves by talking to other students about your problems. My favourite line " its a fun place to learn" and very expensive may I add. Yes, it's fun - socials,gala balls, festival nights - but the majority of the teachers are inexperienced. While I was at AM I was told by certain teacher to stop asking her questions in the group class???? What the???? It was quite obvious she had no experience, I always cancelled any lessons they offered with her, it was only months later when two of her students changed teachers and told everyone they had a relationship with her. This was downplayed by other members of the staff as " causing trouble" and "gossip" until the manager of the studio claimed the information to be true. When one of the female students made a sexual harrassment complaint against a male student this same teacher became his teacher, hope the two are very happy together. The studio just swept the incidents under the carpet. Needless to say I am no longer at the studio and have gone back to international ballroom .
Just to provide another prespective, you could do everything boleros2aerosmith does at my studio and it would cost $190 a week, compared to $240 at that AM studio. Since $50 is almost another private lesson each week, I prefer my studio's a la carte pricing. Also, it looks like AM only pays off at all if you have time to take advantage of lots of the "free" classes and parties. I work full time, so my typical dance week is 2 privates, 1 group, and 1 party. That costs me $150 a week, a $90 difference from AM if I pay for only what I actually do.
But I know some people like the social atmosphere at AMs, and it might be worth the extra cost for them.
Here private lessons run between $45 - $65 an hour including floor rental depending on the teacher's qualification.
Group classes average about $8/hr.
Local dances (at least one a weekend) are: $5 workshop (1hr) + $8 dance or $10 for both.
So if you took 1 private, 2 groups and one dance plus workshop you're looking at around $70 to $90 per week.
Laura, who's the teacher might I ask?
My wife and I study teacher training with Pat Bovaird of Montreal. Pat was New Zealand champ and 7 times a judge at the World Championships. Recently we took a series of lessons with Young Ryu in Vancouver. He was terrific. He made everything so simple and cleared up a problem with my reverse hesitation that has made my wife very happy. (Me Too!)His coach is former Canadian Champion and crowd favourite at the Ohio Star Ball Pierre Allaire. Pat taught Pierre.
Pierre & his wife, Mirielle, head up the BYU dance camp where Alain Doucette & Anik Joliceur, world professional 10 dance champions teach. Pierre & Mirielle do the best Viennese I've ever seen live to a French Canadian folksong that speeds up and slows down.
I do not know if what I pay is the same as the national average for AM students. I am aware that franchisees set their own fees according to their own local demographics. I have taken lessons at independent studios who have claimed to offer the same quality of instruction for a much lower price. It has been my experience that this statement just wasn't true. I encountered unprofessional behavior from people who were supposed to be professionals. I was never assured that I would have the same teacher, which made me feel like I was constantly starting over. Once a teacher found out that I was an AM student, they became greedy for information about the AM syllabus and on a couple of occasions, that information became their entire motivation for working with me and my dance goals went by the wayside. I do not understand that behavior because I don't know really know what is so uber-special about the AM syllabus. Maybe I'm just naive on that level.
I have had the same instructor for 4 years. I like that consistency. My 10 year old daughter dances, too, and I like that she is treated respectfully, as she has considerable dance and performance talent... and no, some AM teacher didn't use that as a sales tactic on me for giving her lessons. She's been that way nearly since birth.
I like the consistency and level of instruction. I do like the social element to AM as well. I also happen to like that whether I take two lessons a week as I am doing now, or one lesson every two weeks, as I have done in the past, I can still go to as many group lessons and parties as I want to. I like that the program is tailored to my needs and I have yet to see that kind of approach from any independent studio I have dealt with.
I think it comes down to what is right for you. I'm totally okay with AM. I am also totally okay with people who swear by the independent studios because they feel their needs are addressed. I do not, however, believe that AM is evil, nor do I believe it is a terrible place to learn to dance, as the orginal author of this thread states. The economics of the situation has to be what is right for the individual regardless of where that person receives instruction.
We have taken lessons at a FADS studio for almost 5 years. Our only purpose is to dance socially as a couple. They have been pretty good at supporting our purpose. We have had a few teachers that left a lot to be desired, but most have been really good. They allowed us to switch teachers and in one case, refunded our lessons with a new teacher, who was completely wrong for us.
We have not had a problem with them holding us back. They started teaching us silver foxtrot when we were in the first bronze level, because we did not like doing the bronze foxtrot. We really liked the Waltz at that time and the silver foxtrot quickly became one of our favarite dances. We did not want to focus on 4 majors, we wanted to work on all the dances and they have been very good about doing that. They do make us specify 4 majors for level evaluations, but work with us on whatever dance we want to work on.
Major problem for us is teachers come and go so much. Switching teachers so often is a bit frustrating and recently the departure of a lady teacher, who was perfect for us, was dissapointing.
As far as promoting dancing as a way to meet someone, I have no problem with that. We know quite a few older couples that met through dancing. On our last cruise, there was an engaged couple at our table, who met at a group lesson. It was the first lesson for both of them.
Because of the teacher switching and the level we are at, we are going to finish our FADS lessons and look for an independent teacher, who we thing will be around for awhile, to work with us every few months on technique. We can now learn new moves from videos, easier than from teachers.
At our independent, we pay $175 a month. That includes the group lesson (every monday) for two, and four private lessons. We've scheduled those for every Wednesday.
We were actually "cast-offs"- we learned too slow and bungled too much, so our current instructor kind of had us pushed off on her. I'm so glad that happened. I love the other instructors at the studio, but I feel we've really grown and learned under this lady's tutelage. We spend more time dancing and less time being lectured. Our problematic areas are addressed and corrected in a professional, friendly manner, and when we're discouraged, we're reminded that EVERYONE started somewhere.
I haven't attended any of the AMs around our area (but then, we'd have to drive fairly far, too, to do so), but any time we call or email them to ask the simple question "Do you have any new-comer, out-of-towner friendly socials for us to attend?", we either receive no answer, or hear the standard reply "What level are you?"... and that's off-putting. Dance parties should be about dancing and trying out what you've learned. How can you do that if you're "segregated" from being able to so much as WATCH either advanced or more rudimentary dancers? THAT is the only thing I don't like about Arthur Murray. Too exclusivist. Dancing is for everyone. When someone asks someone to dance, all one has to say is "Now... I'm a beginner- there are some things that haven't been shown to me yet, is that ok?"... and you either go dance, or you wait that one out.
If it's to protect your "good" dancers at the studio from "dumb newbies", think of this: If your advanced dancers are so good, why can't they exercise a little traffic control? Are they above honing their floorcraft?
I've seen fewer bumps and oopses among beginners because at least beginners CARE whether or not they injure someone. The advanced dancers (archetypically, at least) are more worried on showing off, or working on their own elements, and not looking around them to see who's coming.
The only forgivable collision on the dance floor is two leads back-to-back.
Perhaps Arthur Murray should teach that, instead of "This dance is for silver dancers only. If you don't know what you're doing, get off the floor NOW!", which is exactly what I heard at a studio near us. It wasn't an AM, but it was run by former AM instructors.
"Perhaps Arthur Murray should teach that, instead of "This dance is for silver dancers only. If you don't know what you're doing, get off the floor NOW!", which is exactly what I heard at a studio near us. It wasn't an AM, but it was run by former AM instructors."
That may sound harsh, but it really only takes a handfull of slow or unpredictable moving couples to choke up a floor to the point where the advanced dancers will either be sitting out, tutoring beginners, or crashing into couples they can't see while trying to avoid the ones they could. Designating certain dances for different types of traffic flow makes a lot of sense in that situation.
"it really only takes a handfull of slow or unpredictable moving couples to choke up a floor to the point where the advanced dancers will either be sitting out, tutoring beginners, or crashing into couples they can't see while trying to avoid the ones they could."
... which is why they need to teach and stress floorcraft with which to begin? LOL.
".. which is why they need to teach and stress floorcraft with which to begin? LOL."
Macha, it doesn't matter how good a driver you are, gridlock is still gridlock. Halfway fill a floor with social american foxtrot and for the purposes of the more advanced swing style foxtrot it is essentially gridlocked. Maneouverability does not good if the only way to avoid one couple is to bump or cut off two others. Even simply waiting doesn't work, because then you increase the size of the tangle blocking the person behind you.
much as the solution to gridlock on the roads is to not have everyone trying to drive at the same hour, the solution to gridlock on the floor is to not have everyone trying to dance the same song. with dances beginners won't do the advanced couples get a chance - but they should get to do some waltzes and foxtrots, not only get a chance to dance when the floor clears for a quickstep or viennese.
ok everyone, I am an AM instructor, yes we have manuals, yes we have dvd's, but exactly how the hell did you come to all of this info? just for your information, each instructor gets trained personally by the designated trainer. we teach a very high standard of technique. If your teacher didnt, thats the teachers fault, not the whole studio. Get your facts straight before you start throwing big words around...
I used to teach for an AM studio and what I can tell you is that the majority of the instructors are great people. While it is true that some steps are learned by video and manuals, any good studio will bring in professionals to work with their instructors. There are also opportunities through out the year for instructors to attend dance camps. I assure you that most instructors are well trained and completely sincere when they compliment you. It is a retail sales industry and overhead is high..franchise fees, rent, salaries, ect. Be a good consumer ask lots of questions. How long have been teaching, where did you have your instruction ect. Don't sign contracts if your questions aren't answered, and don't be afraid to ask for your own personalized contract. Not everyone wants to learn the entire bronze syllabus. The people at AM know that and want to make money.A good studio owner will work with you.
I went to their free lesson and was disappointed to see that my teacher was overweight! I really couldn't understand that. Since I wasn't sure I wanted to sign up right there and then, I said I would have to get back to them and the teacher raised his voice and seemed aggressive, asking why I wouldn't just sign up now and what would change between today and tomorrow. So I took that as a red flag and said I would let them know later but never came back. And now I'm so glad I didn't.
Taking lessons at FADs, we have had a lot of teachers over the 5 years. Some have been a bit overwieght, a few extremely short and one very tall. We have not found their physical attributes to be a problem. One lady who has done an awesome job getting ballroom dancing going in one of the cities, near were we live is very much overweight. But she does an excellent job teaching and is appreciated by her students.
Bolero, the "unlimited" group classes that you mentioned that are available to the students are misleading. First of all, the AM studios in So CAl do not offer group classes in each dance at each level on a regular basis. So, say you're an advance student in a dance that is not popular with a lot of students, you'd have to depend on your private lessons to learn anything about that dance. (Additionally, dance parties won't do you much good either because others don't know how to due that dance). At my studio the only group classes they have on a regular/weekly basis are beginners swing and beginners salsa. This sucks because one of the dances on my program is salsa and I'm too advance for beg. salsa. (And off course they'll tell you it never hurst to take a lower level class to brush up on your technigue, etc.) They have the salsa class in my level once a month. Some other dances, like the tango and waltz, are offered even less frequent than this. Secondly, they will only allow you to take classes in your level; taking a class higher than your level is usually frowned upon. So, the free unlimited classes that you're upselling is not that much of a plus at all. Bolero, you're either an instructor or a franchisee aren't you. You seem to leave out a lot of caveats about their program.