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Dancing in the Digital World

Living in the age of technology feels like we have the world at our fingertips and in many ways we do! You can access all kinds of information on pretty much anything you can think of, with the power of Google.

It’s important to remember that not all information you’re given on television and the internet is valid or beneficial. I am going to give you some tips on how you can benefit from using technology to improve you’re dance education as well as things you need to watch out for.


1. Anyone can have a YouTube channel.


Being on the internet is not in itself a qualification. I am not saying that no one can teach you other than your instructor, we all know the power of exchange lessons, but I do recommend that you are cautiously optimistic about who you decide to listen to when you are surfing around on YouTube. For every qualified and certified instructor you find online there are a dozen people looking to become famous overnight. Tell your teachers about the videos you’re watching so they can let you know if what you’re learning is going to be beneficial or take you in the wrong direction.


2. There are many schools of thought.


Are the videos you’re watching American or International style? Do you know which of the styles you are training in? Sometimes it can get confusing if the information you’re getting is valid for the style of ballroom dancing that you study. If you are working on American style and come in to your next lesson telling your teacher all about the “figure eight” action you have perfected over the weekend, you may be in for some bad news. If you are a new dancer it can be easy to get excited about a Tango or Waltz video you watched, that turned out to be Argentine Tango and Viennese Waltz. Your teachers are not threatened by the idea of you watching videos online; they are however concerned whether or not the material you’re getting is legitimate. Make sure you are watching the right videos from good sources!


3. Contradictions.


Learning to dance can sometimes feel like a world of contradictions, we have all felt this when we take exchange lessons. Several times a week I hear the words “That’s not how my other teacher wants it. “ We understand that it can be frustrating for you. What we need to understand is that there are a lot of ways to get to the same result. Teaching ballroom dancing is a very diagnostic process. For example posture, head position, foot placement, creating a mutual center of mass, tempo/timing, frame and a near infinite number of other things can all affect your balance. Different teachers will take different approaches to balance based on a variety of factors. Just because one teacher told you that you need to develop your posture to have better balance and another told you to work on keeping your feet under your body, does not mean one is more or less valid than another. The benefit to taking lessons at Arthur Murrays is that all your teachers are in constant contact with one another. We are aware of what was taught on each of your lessons and take the time to review what was covered. This allows us to clearly explain why your exchange teacher took one approach versus another. When you hear something contradictory on an internet video we have no context of why they took that particular approach and the creator of the video has no context of what level you are or where you are in your progress. To avoid contradictions we recommend taking your YouTube videos with a grain of salt.


4. What Level is this?


Not all videos online are clear about what level they are working on. There is legitimacy to the scholastic system of Arthur Murrays (Remember we have had over 100 years to develop the system of education most efficient to teaching adult learners ballroom dancing). Learning material that is too advanced too quickly can actually slow down your learning. It causes to you to reach your frustration quotient prematurely. The Arthur Murray syllabus is built to introduce you to the next element at the correct time, so one concept moves effortlessly into the next. Trying to tackle advanced technique too early will make you feel like you’re not learning fast enough, and create feelings of inadequacy. No matter how intelligent or coordinated you are everyone has a rate of learning and trying to stretch that rate too quickly is like trying to stretch a muscle too quickly, it’s not going to be pleasant. Your teachers are very good at what they do, you should trust that they are going to get you to your goals in the fastest possible manner, without overwhelming you.


5. So what can I do?


I want to be clear, I am not saying do not use YouTube or the internet to view videos about dancing, just be cautious about what videos you follow. You all have copious amounts of training and dance knowledge, use it. If you think the video your watching isn’t 100% legit, ask your teachers and get their opinion. We have the wonderful tool that is our Facebook page (ArthurMurrayEdmonton@facebook.com/@arthurmurray.edmonton). If you see something that you think is a good video just send it to us, we will take a look and let you know what we think. Once you have found a feed that is reliable, you can be more trusting. You will notice that a lot of the stuff we post comes from the same sources. These sources can be trusted, I know many of the people that run the pages, either in person or through our mutual interest. If you don’t know where to get started I recommend our studio Facebook and Twitter Pages. The staff at Arthur Murray Edmonton has already scoured the internet in search for great information, videos and tips and put them all in one central location for you. Happy Hunting!


6. The power in your pocket.


Most of us have this amazing device in our pocket called a “smart phone” (if you don’t I would highly recommend looking into it!). Your cell phone can be a great and powerful tool for developing your dancing. Remember just like all things in dancing, this alone will not make you a champion. Simply taking private lesson, group classes, attending parties, making notes and video notes is not enough on their own. Using these tools in conjunction with one another is how we truly master the craft. Video notes are just another tool in the belt. So here’s what to do. You cannot have a continuous feed into the studio at all times and trying to video tape all your group classes will only make it so that you are unable to actually focus on what’s happening at the moment. Video notes are going to be most beneficial during exam times, when you’re learning choreography or during a session of advanced new technique THAT YOU PLAN TO PRACTICE THAT WEEK! I do recommend making videos of choreography and patterns for your school figure exams, this will help you when you are at home practicing. If you are unsure about whether or not you should take a video of the technique you’re working on, or attempt to go from memory, do not hesitate to ask your teacher. Sometimes it is actually more beneficial to work from written notes or memory and your teacher can help you understand when to use each tool in your dance tool belt.


The most important thing to remember is to have faith in the school you dance in. Your teachers want what is best for you and will always encourage you to do whatever is the most efficient use of your time. Trust us to get you to your goals and together we will be able to make great strides in your dance education!

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