strathspey Archive: Publishing dance levels

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Publishing dance levels

Message 33989 · Volleyballjerry · 17 Feb 2003 17:17:43 · Top

Lee asks why we are reluctant to label dances with levels on programs.
Reluctant??? We ALWAYS do this. I had assumed that EVERYONE did! Whenever
we publish a dance program (San Gabriel Valley Branch, Southern California),
be it in the newsletter, on a flyer, on the posters for the wall at the
dance, or the souvenir cuebook for a ball, as well as our annual cuebook of
all of the annual list of dances, the name of the dance ALWAYS carries a
notation of its source (e.g., RSCDS Book 29 or Foss/Glendarroch) as well as
one of the following: BJ, IJ, AJ, BR, IR, AR, BS, IS, AS, BM, IM, AM. When
our Teachers' Committee selects our annual list (every June for the following
September), each dance selected is also thus rated. Beyond this, those cuing
dances verbally always announce the level in advance...but isn't this pretty
universal???

Robb Quint
Thousand Oaks, CA, USA

Publishing dance levels

Message 33990 · John Chambers · 17 Feb 2003 17:35:56 · Top

Robb Quint comments:
| Lee asks why we are reluctant to label dances with levels on programs.
| Reluctant??? We ALWAYS do this. I had assumed that EVERYONE did! ...

The Boston Branch does this a lot, too. Usually you see a
dance labelled "I&A" ("Intermediate and Advanced"), and
beginners are taught that this is a clue that they might
want to visit the refreshment table.

On printed programs, it's usual to give the source info,
both book and dance deviser. This isn't usually done with
lists on whiteboards, though.

Publishing dance levels

Message 33993 · Mike Mudrey · 17 Feb 2003 17:50:24 · Top

I find the levels next to useless.

No dance is hard if you know it,

All dances are hard if you have never seen it before.

I recall our instructor using the beginners (of which I was one) to
demonstrate a rather difficult dance to the better dances who joined us
about and hour and half later. We did much better than they did because we
had practiced and knew the dance.

This past saturday, we had many young (12 and under) young ladies from out
children's class dancing the first half with us. They knew the dances very
well and out danced many of our regular more "experienced" dancers.

If you rate dances, then you must tell us upon what is the basis, or more
important what are the figures and the degree of activity for each couple.

Few dances will admit to being a beginner or advanced.

mm

Publishing dance levels

Message 33994 · Volleyballjerry · 17 Feb 2003 18:07:41 · Top

I really disagree with "mm" who finds levels "next to useless."

Even a relative beginner can feel confident about getting up to do C'EST
L'AMOUR (BJ), particularly knowing that our typical walkthrough for a
beginner dance will be done.

On the other hand even an experienced dancer should know better than to get
onto the floor for DANCING ON PARNASSUS (AM), never having done it and
knowing that only a very short verbal "sequence-reminder" will be given.

Robb

Publishing dance levels

Message 33995 · Fyreladdie · 17 Feb 2003 18:30:25 · Top

In a message dated 2/17/03 8:53:04 AM, mgmudrey@mhtc.net writes:

<< No dance is hard if you know it, >>

I've always said, "Given enough time I can teach most beginners an advanced
dance." Of course that doesn't mean I should, however. When I was teaching a
beginners class we often danced the last dance of the evening with the more
experienced folk. And it was true. The beginners did better that the
experienced, having practiced the dance beforehand.
But I also am a firm believer in rating dances for programs. I tell my
students they can do any dance on the program as long as we have done it in
class. But dances labeled A (advanced) or IA (Intermediate/Advanced) that
they are not familiar with should be watched and not danced. The problem
arises when an exuberant partner insists that they can get the person through
it. Very few dancers can get a beginner through Muirland Willie without
having tried it befrore. Yes, it happen in my set once. And it did not make
the dance enjoyable. The encore was equally unsatisfactory.
Deciding what levels is very subjective. But I think most will agree that
a particular figure, transitions or meanwhile bars can elebvate the dance to
a higher level. As a teacher, I look at the dance, as I would teach it. If
this would be a major teaching dance, I might consider it too challenging for
a beginner. But I would also never stop a beginner from doing a dance they
knew. The "A" is there for those who don't know the dance.

Bob Mc Murtry
San Francisco Branch
Felton, California

Publishing dance levels

Message 33999 · Volleyballjerry · 17 Feb 2003 20:30:02 · Top

Bob McMurtry's point is well taken. The most important warning is the "A"!
Whether a dance that is on the fence between "B" or "I" is utimately labeled
one way or the other is not too important. For us the main difference is
whether it will be walked (with an encouragement for all to join in) or just
verbally cued at a social event. And there are plenty of these "fence"
dances: in introducing Tomalena to our area, I had labeled it "I," but after
doing it for a while now, I think that "B" is likely much more appropriate.
(The MOST difficult thing about that dance is standing still! ... remembering
not to try to spring into a poussette as top [2nd] couple!). By the way, how
IS Tomalena labeled at its home, San Francisco (and/or elsewhere)?

Robb Quint
Thousand Oaks, CA, USA

Publishing dance levels

Message 34009 · Gary Knox · 17 Feb 2003 22:43:40 · Top

San Francisco uses a five level rating, the way it was described to me is:

B: Basic - standard figures, no unusual transitions
B/I:
I: An unusual figure, transition, or has meanwhile figures
I/A:
A: Don't try this in a social setting if you haven't danced it before

The intermediate steps tend to be used when a dance doesn't quite fit
cleanly. I think this type of rating allows someone to judge their own
skills and the descriptions of the dance to decide if they should be there.

Gary

Gary Knox - San Francisco Branch
3673 Stoneglen South
Richmond, CA 94806-5261
Phone: 510.223.4201
gary@reeljig.com

Publishing dance levels

Message 34010 · Fyreladdie · 17 Feb 2003 23:06:31 · Top

Sorry Helen. It gets confusing at times.

Bob Mc Murtry

Publishing dance levels

Message 34011 · Helen P. · 17 Feb 2003 23:21:49 · Top

Waittaminnit. Bob. Confusion is *my* job.
You'll soon be hearing from my labor representative from the Union of
Confusde Folk...
<g>

-- Helen

From: <Fyreladdie@aol.com>
Sent: Monday, February 17, 2003 5:06 PM

> Sorry Helen. It gets confusing at times.
>
> Bob Mc Murtry

Publishing dance levels

Message 34046 · p-d-draffin · 19 Feb 2003 10:03:28 · Top

Hi All,
Publishing dance levels with dance programs is something I have never
encountered in my forty plus years of dancing here in New Zealand. As a
teacher I have on rare occasions suggested to a member of our club that they
might find a certain dance difficult to cope with but to have whole
programmes tagged in such a way I find somewhat disconcerting. Surely
dancing is about enjoying the company of everyone else in the set, even if
now and then it gets a bit muddled up.
David Draffin.
----- Original Message -----
From: <Fyreladdie@aol.com>
To: <strathspey@strathspey.org>
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 6:30 AM
Subject: Re: Publishing dance levels

>
> In a message dated 2/17/03 8:53:04 AM, mgmudrey@mhtc.net writes:
>
> << No dance is hard if you know it, >>
>
> I've always said, "Given enough time I can teach most beginners an
advanced
> dance." Of course that doesn't mean I should, however. When I was teaching
a
> beginners class we often danced the last dance of the evening with the
more
> experienced folk. And it was true. The beginners did better that the
> experienced, having practiced the dance beforehand.
> But I also am a firm believer in rating dances for programs. I tell my
> students they can do any dance on the program as long as we have done it
in
> class. But dances labeled A (advanced) or IA (Intermediate/Advanced) that
> they are not familiar with should be watched and not danced. The problem
> arises when an exuberant partner insists that they can get the person
through
> it. Very few dancers can get a beginner through Muirland Willie without
> having tried it befrore. Yes, it happen in my set once. And it did not
make
> the dance enjoyable. The encore was equally unsatisfactory.
> Deciding what levels is very subjective. But I think most will agree
that
> a particular figure, transitions or meanwhile bars can elebvate the dance
to
> a higher level. As a teacher, I look at the dance, as I would teach it. If
> this would be a major teaching dance, I might consider it too challenging
for
> a beginner. But I would also never stop a beginner from doing a dance they
> knew. The "A" is there for those who don't know the dance.
>
> Bob Mc Murtry
> San Francisco Branch
> Felton, California
>

Publishing dance levels

Message 34001 · Helen P. · 17 Feb 2003 21:54:20 · Top

Often, dances near DC don't list dance ratings, expect for advanced dances,
which are usually marked with an asterisk (*), and announced as well. Of
course, beginner-level dances are announced as such. It's so nice for the
uncertain beginners to have the MC personally inviting them to join in the
group. :-)

However, designating beginner dances on the written program can have limited
value. After all, *everyone* can dance them, so a warning is unnecessary.
Also, a lack may encourage the beginners to read through *all* the dances,
thus learning more, even if they only end up dancing the easy ones. It also
leads them to discuss the dances and ask for advice from teachers and
experienced folk.

It's not uncommon for our beginners or early intermediates to initiate an
impromptu walk-through during breaks at big dances, with any teacher and
nearby dancers joining in to complete a set.

Thus, a written indication of simple dances might make it easier on the
beginners, but it's possible that they might not learn as quickly as a
result.

So, verbal announcements of hard or easy dances is always a good idea. It's
also wise to make a written warning about hard dances, but it might not be
necessary for easy ones (it might be good at some events, but of limited use
at others).

-- Helen (MD USA)

Publishing dance levels

Message 34005 · Fyreladdie · 17 Feb 2003 22:26:34 · Top

In a message dated 2/17/03 1:01:26 PM, leap@mindspring.com writes:

<< So, verbal announcements of hard or easy dances is always a good idea.
It's

also wise to make a written warning about hard dances, but it might not be

necessary for easy ones (it might be good at some events, but of limited use

at others). >>

Lara,
I agree that an MC can make known the dances that are beyond some and the
ones that are for everybody. I think the level indication helps people figure
out how many dances may accessible to them prior to the event. I use these
rating to quickly see what may be needed in my class prior. I, of course,
don't go by the ratings alone. Consider Hooper's Jig. Not a hard dance but
one that seems to be a bear to teach, with any ease to beginners and
sometimes more experienced dancers. It is listed as a "B" but again, I doubt
a new person could do iy easily from a talk through and even possibly a quick
walk-through.
Ratings should be a guide, not an absolute, if used at all. Like I said,
difficult is relative. Happy first man crosses by the right with third
lady!!!!!

Bob Mc Murtry
San Francisco Branch
Felton, California

Publishing dance levels

Message 34008 · Helen P. · 17 Feb 2003 22:38:14 · Top

Lara??? I'm Helen Powell <leap@mindspring.com>.

Bob, if written ratings works well for you and your group, go for it! :-)

-- Helen

> In a message dated 2/17/03 1:01:26 PM, leap@mindspring.com writes:
> << So, verbal announcements of hard or easy dances is always a good idea.
> It's also wise to make a written warning about hard dances, but it might
not
> be necessary for easy ones (it might be good at some events, but of
limited
> use at others). >>

From: <Fyreladdie@aol.com>
Sent: Monday, February 17, 2003 4:26 PM

> Lara,
> I agree that an MC can make known the dances that are beyond some and
the
> ones that are for everybody. I think the level indication helps people
figure
> out how many dances may accessible to them prior to the event. I use these
> rating to quickly see what may be needed in my class prior. I, of course,
> don't go by the ratings alone. Consider Hooper's Jig. Not a hard dance but
> one that seems to be a bear to teach, with any ease to beginners and
> sometimes more experienced dancers. It is listed as a "B" but again, I
doubt
> a new person could do iy easily from a talk through and even possibly a
quick
> walk-through.
> Ratings should be a guide, not an absolute, if used at all. Like I
said,
> difficult is relative. Happy first man crosses by the right with third
> lady!!!!!
>
> Bob Mc Murtry
> San Francisco Branch
> Felton, California

Publishing dance levels

Message 34017 · Lee Fuell · 18 Feb 2003 05:08:17 · Top

All,

Re:

-----Original Message-----
From: Helen P. [mailto:leap@mindspring.com]
Sent: Monday, February 17, 2003 3:16 PM
To: strathspey@strathspey.org
Subject: Re: Publishing dance levels

Often, dances near DC don't list dance ratings, expect for advanced dances,
which are usually marked with an asterisk (*), and announced as well.
<snip>

-- Helen (MD USA)

________________________________________________________________

The DC-area approach is probably best all 'round; I like the other
suggestion of "not recommended for those who do not know the dance."
Doesn't make any value judgments about individual dancer abilities.

As far as what makes a dance intermediate to difficult, here are some
suggestions totally based on my opinion, personal experience, and observing
inexperienced/"challenged" dancers:

- Anything with two bar phrases or two bar turns
("corner-partner-corner-partner") is a lot more difficult than many of us
more experienced dancers remember - I've seen it almost reduce first-timers
to tears when an empathy-challenged teacher tried to teach the figure during
what was supposed to be the "beginner" portion of the class.

- Meanwhile figures (Australian Ladies, J.B. Milne, etc).

- Rarely-used figures like the Tournee, Tourbillon, Espagnole, Schiehallion
(sp?) reels, Highland Schottische Pousette (a terrific progression; too bad
there aren't more dances that use it), corners pass and turn, etc.

- Unusual modifications to standard figures (like the Petronella turn to the
left in Frog in the Middle).

- Dances longer that 32 bars (harder to remember).

- Any dance requiring near-balletic physical ability to complete, like The
Golden Pheasant.

This is certainly not all-inclusive, and I'm sure a talented teacher could,
with time, teach any of these to basic-level dancers, but these are all
things that would tend to cause me to put an asterisk on the dance for a
dance program. It really is ultimately a subjective judgment, so anything
said above should be viewed as no more than one non-teacher's opinion.

Happy dancing!

Lee

Publishing dance levels

Message 34020 · Adam Hughes · 18 Feb 2003 10:10:28 · Top

Hi all,

I've been reading this with interest, occasionally verging on dismay.

For me, there seem to be two dynamics, "inclusiveness/elitism" and
"plain speaking/ignoring the problem".

I tend to want to ignore the fact that some people who go to a dance are
less capable than others of picking up a crib (or listening to a brief)
and then just dancing a dance they've never done before. For me, being
able to do that is half the fun of SCD. (Maybe I'm just a repressed
square dancer...)

So given that there are people like that (I don't want to use the word
"beginner", since some of them aren't) it does seem a good idea to rate
dances, so that "everyone" can dance at their own level, and not upset
themselves or the people whose set they share.

I think I'm happier with the sound of the "star" system, rather than the
ABC/BIA system, since there are many dances where "knowing the trick" is
more important than having a three beat pas-de-bas.

But, it still really upsets me that there are people who are going to be
upset that someone in makes a mistake in a dance, or that someone is
dancing in a an environment where the

Helen P. wrote:
> real damage is to the ego of the person who's muddling through.

(sorry, Helen, you just have the best quote!)

Surely at every club (or class) there is a supportive atmosphere? Does
this evaporate when a ball comes around? At what point does it become
"bad" to "mess up" a dance? For me the point this happens is a dem -
messing up when we are on show is embarrassing - or just after the
teacher of a class says "lets try that just one more time". But in a
social situation? Please!

Am I alone in thinking that going to a ball should be *more fun* than
going to a weekly class?

Adam
Cambridge, UK.

Publishing dance levels

Message 34023 · Nachteule7 · 18 Feb 2003 12:32:21 · Top

Hi all,

like Adam I’m following the discussion about publishing dance levels with interest, especially because the situation on most socials and balls is very different here in Germany. I remember only very few events here, where one could find a rating of dance levels. Sometimes you find note for dances which are very difficult, but this is not in common use in Germany.
In my opinion it’s the job of a class teacher to evaluate which dances are how difficult for his dancers, and to give advice which dances they should better omit.

Adam - you are not alone!! I think going to a ball and meet /dance with a lot other people is the real fun at SCD. I enjoy that far more as to go to a regular weekly class.

I think for less experienced dancers it is advantageous if they could practise dances for upcoming dance events at their weekly class. I personally find it rather boring to dance the programme first at the class and than at the ball. I love the challenge to try out new and unusual dances, but I always prepare diagrams for them well in advance, so I’m able to remember them (most times) very quickly.

Martina
Langenfeld/Germany

>Hi all,
>
>I've been reading this with interest, occasionally verging on dismay.
>
>For me, there seem to be two dynamics, "inclusiveness/elitism" and
>"plain speaking/ignoring the problem".
>
>I tend to want to ignore the fact that some people who go to a dance are
>less capable than others of picking up a crib (or listening to a brief)
>and then just dancing a dance they've never done before.  For me, being
>able to do that is half the fun of SCD.  (Maybe I'm just a repressed
>square dancer...)
>
>So given that there are people like that (I don't want to use the word
>"beginner", since some of them aren't) it does seem a good idea to rate
>dances, so that "everyone" can dance at their own level, and not upset
>themselves or the people whose set they share.
>
>I think I'm happier with the sound of the "star" system, rather than the
>ABC/BIA system, since there are many dances where "knowing the trick" is
>more important than having a three beat pas-de-bas.
>
>But, it still really upsets me that there are people who are going to be
>upset that someone in makes a mistake in a dance, or that someone is
>dancing in a an environment where the
>
>Helen P. wrote:
>> real damage is to the ego of the person who's muddling through.
>
>(sorry, Helen, you just have the best quote!)
>
>Surely at every club (or class) there is a supportive atmosphere?  Does
>this evaporate when a ball comes around?  At what point does it become
>"bad" to "mess up" a dance?  For me the point this happens is a dem -
>messing up when we are on show is embarrassing - or just after the
>teacher of a class says "lets try that just one more time".  But in a
>social situation?  Please!
>
>Am I alone in thinking that going to a ball should be *more fun* than
>going to a weekly class?
>
>Adam
>Cambridge, UK.
>
>

Publishing dance levels

Message 34025 · Fyreladdie · 18 Feb 2003 17:06:26 · Top

In a message dated 2/18/03 1:18:00 AM, adamoutside@yahoo.co.uk writes:

<< Am I alone in thinking that going to a ball should be *more fun* than
going to a weekly class? >>

Adam,
A ball should be as much fun as class. But I do think class is a good
place to learn a dance not the dance floor of a ball. As earlier stated, I
was in a set during Muirland Willie, where my partner and I were the only
ones in the set that knew the dance. I'm pretty charitable with new and
inexperienced dancers but the set was a disaster. It was not fun. I try to
leave my teaching cap at home when at a social event. However, trying to get
6 other people through a dance and manage myself was more than I wanted to do.
I do not believe in elitism on the dance floor, just simple competence. I
am happy to take any 'challenged' partner who might state, "I don't know this
dance very well. Could you help me get through it?" But there are limits
where dancers need to know something before venturing onto the floor. Flight
not fright should be the operative word in the dance.
Also I don't look at feet during a social event. Whether the person is
doing a 3 step, 2 step or one step pas de Basque is less important than
knowing where to be, at any given time. I've been in the perfect sets and the
sets from hell. And hell is a bit warm when you're wearing wool. Happy
dancing!

Bob Mc Murtry
San Francisco Branch
Felton, California

Publishing dance levels

Message 34019 · Blain Nelson · 18 Feb 2003 09:25:49 · Top

Helen P. wrote:

>
> It's not uncommon for our beginners or early intermediates to initiate an
> impromptu walk-through during breaks at big dances, with any teacher and
> nearby dancers joining in to complete a set.
>

At the most recent dance (9 days ago), my daughter (who took two classes
almost a year ago, and had no idea what she was doing) was invited by a
teacher to join her for a dance not marked easy (at the dances here,
about half the dances are starred to designate them as easy). It was
the Westward Ho. I discussed the dance with a more experienced dancer
friend, and she got a group of us together to be an experimental set,
where everybody knew that it might not work out, just to see if we could
make it work. I've seen her do this at other dances (but not involving
anybody as inexperienced as I), and I know that my current teacher does
*not* approve of this.

When we did it, there were times it totally didn't work as planned (I'd
never seen or heard of hello good-bye setting, let alone done it), and I
was more or less pushed into where I should be at the end of that and
then we took it from there. I got the mirror reels pretty well, and the
grand chains worked more often than not. It was kinda a big mess.
I enjoyed it, and I learned about some of the moves in a way I wouldn't
have sitting on the side-lines. And no one was injured, and no animals
were harmed in the process.

My daughter, in her set, was more or less pushed around to where she was
supposed to be, and was not injured either.

Personally, I think the experimental set idea works better for these
than taking an abject beginner into an experienced set, but I think
that's a philosophy thing.

>
> -- Helen (MD USA)
>
>

Take care,
Blain

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