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Questions & Answers


For dumb requests, questions and miscellaneous communications click here

 

Dancing is a wonderful sport. It is a pity that you never talk about that side of dancing on your website. Why not?

Because I do not think that it is sport. It is wonderful exercise, but it is not a sport. Sport requires a clear definition of a winner. When running, the first runner who finishes the distance is the winner. The man who jumps highest is the winner, etc. In a dance competition any decisions made by judges are purely subjective. The competition dancers rely on their trust that judges have enough taste, common sense, and competence to select the best of them in a relatively fair way. That’s all that it is. Sometimes it happens, other times it does not. Does it make dancing less valuable? No. It is just the nature of this activity that does not qualify it as a sport.

 

Where in Northern Colorado can senior citizens dance?

I believe that senior citizens are welcome to any dance evenings in Northern Colorado, and I recommend going dancing with the mixed crowd of various ages. However, I have heard of two opportunities specifically for senior citizens – Senior Center in Fort Collins (970-221-6644) and Goodtimes Dance Club (970-667-9398). It is up to you to find out whether you prefer these places or the more common dance occasions.

 

How do I get on your waiting list?

Just call me or send me email.

 

You claim that you teach the International style of dancing. If I read the syllabus for your beginner’s course, I do not see a single dance from the international program.

The beginner’s course has a dual purpose – to start students moving and to start them moving in the right style and with the correct techniques. The program for the beginner’s course allows my students to feel confident within the social environment of the ballroom and with practically any dance music besides the Waltz music. The Waltz is excluded not because it is more difficult but simply because we need to draw the line somewhere. After all, we have only six classes in the course. The dances the students learn in the beginner’s course are taught in the way International style dancers would dance them. Thus, on the basis of simple dances, we start teaching the International style and techniques from the very first class. Also, if you look at the names of dances, they are frequently simplified versions of the dances on the list of the International style curriculum. Rock’n’Roll is the simplest form of Jive, Rhythm Dancing is an introduction to the International form of European style, Modern Rock is a good introduction to Cha-Cha-Cha, etc. Starting from the Intermediate courses we narrow the curriculum more and more and finally focus exclusively on the official International style program.

 

When I am on the internet, I have difficulty in determining whether the dance site is about International style or American ballroom style. How can I distinguish them?

On both sides of the spectrum there are many variations of the style, the language, and the quality. Dance is not mathematics, and nothing is defined forever. Both styles are constantly developing, or I would prefer to say changing. Additionally, many dance studios mix both styles either for profit or just by ignorance. However, if you see words like swing, cha-cha (instead of cha-cha-cha), mambo, salsa, box step, you are reading about the American Ballroom style. At the International style sites the style is usually stated clearly, or you can check the names of dances. There are ten dances this style deals with – Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep, Rumba, Samba, Cha-Cha-Cha, Paso Doble, and Jive.

 

Why are your prices higher than prices in other dance studios in Colorado?

A few years ago we certainly had higher prices than many other studios in Colorado. Now, I am not sure that this is true anymore. Recent changes on the market have forced many businesses to reevaluate their products and price lists. I believe that students in our school get a high value per dollar. Please keep in mind that dance classes are not a commodity. The competence of an instructor, the quality of a ballroom, and the distinction of a curriculum may vary significantly from studio to studio. One cannot just compare the price per hour to find the best school; that is how one finds the cheapest school. I am confident that the fact that our school has survived and prospered for over fifteen years in such a relatively small town as Fort Collins is a good indicator of the appreciation the Colorado community shows us. We have students from different locations in Colorado. Some students are willing to drive over three hours one way to come to the class or dance evening. From time to time we even have international students coming from other countries and taking classes. Having said all this, I want to mention that I do my best to obtain feedback from my students and improve their experience in my school, including reasonable pricing.

 

What is the difference between dance practice and dance evenings?

At dance practice people come to rehearse what they have learned recently but do not dance well yet. Or they want to practice what they know and to make it better. In other words, it is an environment where dancers work on their dance routines. They are dressed casually and have no goal of dancing non-stop from the beginning of the music to its end. They can stop, repeat a certain pattern, go to the mirror to watch their lines, etc. Each dance is played continually for fifteen minutes to let people focus on a specific part of their variation.

At dance evenings dancers are dressed up and enjoy dancing for the pleasure of it. There is more social interaction. People do not necessarily dance with their own partners. The program has more variety and the sequence of dances changes constantly. It is not a working environment but the environment of delight and relaxation.

 

How much talent does one need to become a good dancer?

I cannot define talent and certainly do not know how to measure it. However, I think that I know what you are asking. Social dance is for everybody. This is why it is called social. It is designed for a crowd and is basically simple. You need three components to become a good dancer in a social environment – a physically normal body, quality instruction and practice, practice, practice. Of course, you have to like and even better to love dancing.

 

I need to learn more steps and moves. Can you help me?

I can but I do not want to. Learning dance is not only about learning steps and not about steps in the first place. Dance is a movement of your body while your feet are probably the least important part of the process. You need to know steps but it does not make you a dancer. A decent dancer knows the style and the technique of the movement to achieve this style. It is not a variety of steps or moves that make dance. It is how you move. I am not an appropriate instructor for people who expect me to teach them a lot of steps or a lot of different dances in a short period. I am sure that there are dance studios that do just that. You will easily find them by searching the internet for “American Ballroom Dance”.

 

My daughter has been dancing and competing for several years in the Arthur Murray Dance Studio. Now we are moving to Colorado. She is planning to join your studio to continue her competitive ballroom dancing.

In my opinion, it will not be the right thing to do. The Arthur Murray Dance Studios teach a very different dance style than I do. Also, I do not prepare couples for competition anymore. If your daughter likes what she is doing in the Arthur Murray Dance Studio it may be a better solution for her to find one in Colorado. I am sure that we have a number of their franchises.

 

Could you please recommend a good reference book about ballroom dancing that is not too complicated to read for an inexperienced amateur?

I know of only one book that fits your request. It is Modern Ballroom Dancing by Victor Silvester. The other book that I want to mention – only because people frequently hear of it – is Ballroom Dancing by Alex Moore. This book is exclusively about European style. It is certainly a good book for more advanced dancers. Just do not pay any attention to the ugly picture on the cover. Alex Moore does not have anything to do with it.

 

Besides the requirement of dressing so that you can see the lines of my body, what else is important?

Let me repeat what I said on the home page of my web site – dress as lightly as you can. Your dress should not restrict your movement. A good example of how you should not dress is wearing jeans. Jeans limit your movement to a significant degree, and the main problem is not that you will be inconvenienced by it, but that you will get an unfortunate result while learning to dance. This is because your pattern of movement will be far different from what I expect it to be, and changing it later will take a lot of work. Wear something non-constricting that will allow you to move freely and me to see the lines of your body.

 

What is the “Silver Shoe Status”?

Some of my students have danced in my school for years. Currently, they do not take classes with me anymore. Still, they are a part of our dance community and regularly participate in dance events. If there is enough space, they have the option to be in the ballroom during my classes without paying and to practice on their own. They pay, however, for dance evenings and other dance activities outside of the regular teaching process. This status is called the Silver Shoe Status. A person does not get this status automatically after a certain number of years. It is exceptional and exclusively by invitation.

 

You stated on your web site that you would not return money that has been already paid. Isn’t this harsh on people who have never seen your classes and might change their minds at the last moment? Why not to have a money-back guarantee and be fair as many other businesses are? Unless, of course, you can prove me wrong.

I think we have different understandings about fairness, and I have no interest in changing your opinion or in proving you wrong. However, I will gladly share with you my reasons for having a no-money-return policy. Running dance classes costs money that frequently has to be paid in advance. One pays for the instructor, for the ballroom, for the music, for the utilities, for the advertising, etc. Our groups are intentionally small for quality reasons. If a few people leave the course and their payments are returned, the rest of the class may suffer consequences, including cancellation of instruction. I believe that it is the responsibility of the student to make an intelligent decision before joining my school and not to force the others to pay for his careless attitude. Before joining the school, he can call me and ask questions. He can visit my classes and see what we are doing and how. He can talk to the current students and find out what they like and what they dislike. After doing all this, he ought to know for certain whether or not he wants to be part of the school. Starting and quitting is a very non-serious attitude toward dancing – as it is towards anything – and I find that students who are like this never accomplish much. This is against my whole methodology of teaching, and I enforce this policy in order to create the best atmosphere for learning.

 

What is the best way to prepare a wedding dance? How many private classes should we take?

It all depends on your ambitions and the level of your current dance skill. If you have never danced before and want to learn dancing exclusively for your wedding event, I would advise you either to skip the dance part completely or to make it a very simple performance. If you want to learn dancing for your future enjoyment and for the rest of your life, the most productive and least expensive way is to take the beginner's course and a few private classes afterwards to specifically work on your wedding dance.

 

What is the difference between International Ballroom Dance and American Ballroom Dance?

In my opinion, the difference is similar to the difference between the German German Shepherd and the American German Shepherd. The American German Shepherd is a kind of German Shepherd but not as good as the real German Shepherd. In other words, the American style in ballroom dance is a dumbed down version of the international style with a lot of additional dances that are supposed to compensate for the quality with quantity. Many people would disagree with me. I will not argue with them. They have right to enjoy what they like. I recommend you to watch both styles and make up your own mind.

 

What is the best way to find a partner for ballroom dance?

I do not know of one specific way to find a partner that is better than any others. The bottom line is that you need to be active. Many people call me telling how much they would like to find a dance partner and start dancing. Then they do nothing. So obviously, nothing happens. Even those who simply drop by my school to say hello have much better chances than those who do not. My advice is that if I invite you to stop by, please do.

 

Do you have live or recorded music at your dance evenings?

At our dance evenings, we play recorded music of the world's best dance orchestras.

 

What is the difference between social dance and ballroom dance?

In my opinion, there is no difference. Ballroom dance is just a fancy name for social dance. However, I am pretty sure that there are people who would disagree, especially in this country where a tradition of using terms liberally is common.

 

I have read information on the main page of your web site. Is there anything else I need to know before coming to your school?

I always do my best to tell potential students everything they need to know before they come to my classes. However, there is one more thing that is good to do. Bring a bottle of water with you to the first class.

 

How soon after I start your beginner's course should I come to your dance practices and dance evenings?

The sooner the better. The biggest mistake people make is waiting "until they learn how to dance." You will continue learning how to dance all your life, even after graduating from my school. Attendance at dance practices makes a significant difference in how well couples can dance at the end of the course, and dance evenings are a fun and wonderful opportunity to enjoy dancing. There will always be people who dance better than you, and there will always be people who dance worse than you. It doesn't matter. Come to the dance practices and improve your dancing. Come to the dance evenings and enjoy life. Isn't it the reason you wanted to take dance classes in the first place?

 

I want to learn ballroom dance but I don't have a partner. What should I do? Can I come to your classes as a single person and find a partner there?

You are welcome to join my classes without a partner. However, I do not recommend it. It works for people with particular goals such as university students specializing in dance who need to gain specific professional knowledge. A casual student should have a partner to properly learn and enjoy ballroom dancing. It isn't likely that you'll find another single person right before a course starts. Usually my students sign up as couples. If you still want to come without a partner, I advise you not to pay for the course in advance. Then if you meet a potential partner before the first class, and I have space for you, you can join the group right away. A better approach would be to go to this page on my web site and place an announcement in advance that you are looking for a partner. On a positive note, I must say that in my experience, anybody who wants to dance finds a partner sooner or later. Just do not give up and let everybody know that you are in a need of one.

 

My wife and I love ballroom dancing and I would like my seventeen year old daughter to learn ballroom dancing, too. The problem is that we cannot find a partner for her. Do you have openings for private classes?

If the only reason for your daughter to take private lessons is her lack of a partner, please consider the option of being her partner yourself and joining a group class. From my experience, it is beneficial for both the parent and the child to dance as a couple, and I believe that teenagers do best in group classes. I have also had excellent results in situations in which both parents danced as a couple and the child danced in the same class with a partner of the same age or a little older.

 

Can I buy a gift certificate for your school? Soon we will have our wedding anniversary, and I want to prepare a surprise for my wife.

You are welcome to pay for the dance course and have a nice card with the words "Gift Certificate" on it and a generous space inside for writing your own text. However, you will not be able to come to my school any time you want and start taking classes. You have to reserve a space for a particular course and will be able to use the card only for that course.

 

Do you have groups for children?

I do not have special groups for children. Teenagers are welcome to be in my regular classes. Younger children can join classes with my permission if their parents are my students and are willing to help the children in their learning.

 

The relationship between me and my spouse could be better. We both want to do something about it and are thinking of taking dance classes together. What is your opinion?

It is not so rare for me to have couples in my classes who come in the hope of improving their relationship. Everybody’s situation is different. Sometimes being in a dance class and dancing together really helps. Usually, when people dance they forget their troubles and unite in a wonderful feeling of joy. In other cases, it becomes almost a disaster because any mistake of his/her partner irrationally irritates the other spouse, and no one can avoid making mistakes in a learning process. A particular comment to women – if you come to the class with the ambition of being the best dance couple in the ballroom, please consider carefully whether you should come at all. Chances are that your couple will not be the best, and even if it will be, the other couples will not pay much attention to this fact. You will be in a learning environment where people enjoy their improvement and accept the mistakes that they and the others make. Thus, the answer depends on the expectations and attitudes your couple has more than on the objective part of the dance class surroundings.

 

We are looking for a couple or several couples that could come and perform various Latin American dances and give a simple lesson.

I cannot help you. We are a school of dance, not a dance performing company. Please contact a dance company that is offering this type of services.

 

I called you and left a message with my phone number. I never heard back from you. Do you not return phone calls?

My rule is to call the number people leave for me two times and if possible to leave a message. After that I expect you to call again if you are still interested to talk to me. The best way is to tell me when to call you, or just call me again at a different time.

 

My partner cannot come to the next class, so we will skip it. OK?

I strongly recommend you to come to the class alone and learn your and your partner's parts. It will be much easier for your couple to continue if you coach your partner before the next class.

 

My 17 year old daughter and her friend want to go dancing and she has asked me to help her find an appropriate dress. I was wondering if you could give me some pointers on what is appropriate for a ballroom dancing event these days?

It depends on where your daughter goes to dance. Different places have different styles from jeans to tuxedos. A moderately fancy dress would be appropriate for almost any situation. Later on your daughter will figure out how to dress accordingly. The dress has to be convenient for her to move freely and not make her to sweat. She should not forget to wear appropriate underwear and shoes to feel comfortable. The shoes especially can make a significant difference. The best advice is however to enjoy dancing and feel relaxed and happy. Then almost any dress will make her look great.

Just in case, I give you a few links to ballroom dance places selling dresses, etc. I would not hurry to purchase anything from them before you certainly know that you need their products.

http://www.ballroomdresses.com

http://www.saveondancewear.com/default.asp

http://www.ballroomdancers.com/Directory/Other/view_list.asp?SubCat=101

http://www.apparelsearch.com/retail_ballroom_dance_clothes.htm

For more exclusive products, please see this site.

http://www.acapulco-paradiso.com

You can find much more on the internet if you do a search for “ballroom dress”.
I hope that your daughter will enjoy ballroom dancing.

 

There is no time for me to purchase ballroom shoes before the start of the beginner's course. Can I come in the regular shoes?

Yes, you can. Please make sure that you feel convenient in your shoes. In fact, you can use them throughout the whole course and be okay. However, good ballroom shoes will make a difference for you in the way how you move and how you feel generally as a dancer. For the intermediate course, I strongly recommend purchasing appropriate ballroom shoes. You will not regret it.

 

Can you recommend a good movie about ballroom dancing?

I would recommend the version of "Shall We Dance?" made in 1996. It is in Japanese with English subtitles. There is a lot of Japanese cultural coloration there. However, no matter if you like or dislike that part, the people who made this movie knew very well the world of ballroom dance and showed it sincerely and truthfully.

 

I have a wedding in one week. I never danced before but I want to have a great dance performance with my fiancé. What do you suggest?

You would not come to a piano teacher and request that he teaches you to play the Moonlight Sonata in one week if you never played piano before, would you? The same applies to dancing. You have to spend some time to learn how to dance before you can expect any degree of reasonable performance. My suggestion is to forget about a great dance performance and replace it with a great smile. One week is quite enough to master it. After the wedding, please come to my school with your husband and learn to dance. You will be ready for your first anniversary.

 

I have bought a book on how to dance. Is it a good idea to learn the basics of dancing from the book first and later to come to the school and be better prepared?

No, it is not a good idea. I have not seen a single person who could learn dancing from a book. Books on dancing are mostly used as sources of reference, not as text books for self education. If a book promises to teach you without a dance instructor it is as valuable as a book promising to make you a millionaire over night. A somewhat better idea may be to buy an instructional video. However, nothing will replace a qualified dance instructor.

 

Do people switch partners throughout the class so that everyone dances with everyone else or do couples stay together throughout?

Couples stay together throughout the whole course. Switching partners does not help you learn. It is just an additional distraction I try to avoid.

 

I sent you a message from your web page. Why do I not receive responses from you?

I am very careful in responding to all messages I receive. If you did not receive a response from me it means that something went wrong. Please call me if in doubt.

The common problems with email messages are

No matter whose mistake it is, please let me know, and we will fix the problem. Please do not assume that I did not respond. It never happens.

 

I want to receive your privacy statement. Don't you care about privacy issues? You do not mention anywhere that you are not selling email addresses from your mailing list.

You will not receive a privacy statement from me in documented form. I have no intention of following the popular American trend of legislating moral values. I always assume that visitors of my web site are decent people. I hope that they assume the same about me. So far this approach has worked pretty well for all of us. The common meaning of decency includes not selling information that has been entrusted to you. If I am still not clear: No, I do not sell email addresses.

 

Where can I buy music for ballroom dancing?

It isn't easy today. During the 1990's the interest in ballroom dancing declined so much that no new good dance orchestras emerged, and the old ones have retired. The popularity of ballroom dancing is rising now. However, it hasn't risen enough to produce new good orchestras on the market yet. Your best shot is to look for old CDs on the internet. Another option is to buy new CDs with the old recordings reprinted. There are a few companies, such as Casa Musica in Germany or Dansan in the UK, that do it. Generally speaking, as I said, contemporary orchestras with some exceptions for ones led by old-timers (Ross Mitchell or Bryan Smith in Great Britain, for example) do not have an understanding of how to play ballroom music. For this reason, do not buy music without listening to it first, no matter what the web sites tell you. Some good sites where you can listen to the music are:

Dance Plus

Amazon

CD Universe

Another way to buy music is to look for recordings of the old orchestras with good reputations. If you buy music played by Hugo Strasser, Günter Noris, Max Greger, Sidney Thompson, or Victor Silvester you will have a good chance of success. Try eBay for those orchestras.

The least expensive way to buy music is to buy it in the MP3 format. For example, you may be interested in purchasing these recordings.

Bryan Smith & His New Hawaiians - Blue Islands

The Best of the Dansan Years Vol.2

Big Band Highlights 2 For Dancing

 

Where can I buy dance shoes?

You will not find the shoes you need in warehouse stores. Go to specialized dance stores if you can find ones selling ballroom shoes. My students were happy with the internet sites. It may seem crazy to buy shoes on the internet without trying them on, but many people bought shoes there and are satisfied. Just follow advice on the site.

Please check out these links.

Apple Dance Shoes

Dance Shoes Warehouse

Carmen's Dance Shoes

Save on Dancewear

For warm-up use simple tennis shoes. I recommend female shoes for both genders. They are light and may be less expensive. Also, nobody will tell the difference.

 

Where can I find information about ballroom dance life in Colorado?

I recommend you to go to a good search engine on the internet and type in "ballroom dance colorado" or "ballroom dance fort collins". You may find some information there.

 


Everything is changing fast in this country. If you find out that information on this page is outdated, simply is not correct anymore, or you believe that I am missing important information, please let me know. Thank you.

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