General Dance Discussion > Newbie Dance Question: Placholder Moves?

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by Shades, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. Shades

    Shades New Member


    Andrew here. I recently made the decision (for several reasons) to learn how to dance. After some foundation level courses, I signed up for a full instruction package at what appeared to be the best choice available to me in terms of location and availability: Arthur Murray Dance Studio.

    It's been a blast so far. I've improved my posture, body language, and social confidence, all great things to experience. I fear, however, that the "honeymoon" may be over. Among other things, I just found out that the Hustle I've been practicing for just over a month actually consists of placeholder moves that are apparently much better suited to swing dancing than the actual Hustle.

    I found out last week when they started teaching me that actual moves that are making the placeholders obsolete. It didn't seem like a big deal at first, but the more I think it over, the more frustrating and deceptive this practice seems to me.

    I love the cadre at Arthur Murray, but I entered into an agreement with the understanding that I was being taught the correct moves for the dances I would learn. Is it common for beginners to be taught in this manner? If I were to seek out a different studio or instructor am I likely to encounter this with them as well?

    I'll definitely be taking this up with the studio in question, but as a neophyte dancer I need to know what I ought to realistically be expecting from my selected course of instruction. I was only barely comfortable with such an expensive agreement in the first place. This new development may tip the scales against continuing my lessons here.

  2. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    Choosing a place to learn something based on location and availability rather than reputation and quality puts you in this position.

    What is a 'placeholder' move?
    opendoor likes this.
  3. Shades

    Shades New Member

    I'm not sure what you're getting at. Availability is necessary for the lessons to happen at all. No point in cherry picking the best of the best if I can't actually make it there, y'know?

    A 'placeholder' in this context is a move or set of moves that is apparently being taught to instill some skill or technique that readies the student for the more complex movement that will eventually replace it. Specifically relating to this scenario, I was taught to do what I'm calling a 'rotating basic' instead of the full 180 degree rotation that I was more recently taught (4-count Hustle), at which point the underarm turn I was also initially taught became obsolete as well (it was kind of a two part throwout and return set of movements, so it amounted to two turns).

    The full rotation replaced the 'rotating basic', at which point only one of the UAT motions were necessary, and the other one (the throwout?) was not needed anymore. I may be remembering wrong -- I'll take a look at my syllabus at tomorrow's lesson and see if I can get the proper terminology for what they were calling those initial moves.
  4. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    hard to say without being at your studio...there is some merit to teaching easier version of things first...there is also some practice at some places,of making the progress be as slow as possible to keep student paying and paying and paying because they haven't yet reached their goal
  5. DerekWeb

    DerekWeb Well-Known Member

    I do not understand why someone would commit to an expensive package deal without checking out all available options within the area. caveat emptor

    On your other topic, 4 count hustle is a "placeholder' for newbies and oldsters. look at the championship hustle events on you tube (madjam for example). no such thing as 4 count basic the basic is 3 beats
  6. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    I feel the studio is doing the right thing giving you instruction that way. Since you do not know that you need to be able to do x before y, best to let them show you their game plan. As a student, how long have you been there? How many years?
  7. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I think that most people who are considering dance for casual purposes, simply walk into the closest places and have no idea of the kind of thing they might be walking into and it is often presented to them as being the standard way that it is done
  8. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Even if you can't regularly attend other studios, you should at least visit them and observe the quality of dancing. As a newcomer, you have no frame of reference, so you need to develop one.

    If the average dancer at another studio vastly outshines your studio's best students (or worse, teachers!), you're probably getting fleeced.

    As for placeholder steps... well, they have a purpose. I don't think we can really tell you if they're appropriate for you without actually seeing what is going on in your lesson... but in the ballroom world, it's pretty common to be told "that 'correct' thing you learned last yeah? Yeah... that's not actually correct correct..."
    Shades and Hedwaite like this.
  9. nikkitta

    nikkitta Well-Known Member

    I learned 4-count Hustle before being shown &123 timing. Gotta start somewhere.

    It can be extremely frustrating to have to re-learn steps when new details come to light, but generally speaking, at the very beginning, you're not physically and mentally able to handle it all, and you are told as much as they think you can manage. But by all means if you think you are being taught in a way that is not satisfactory to you, speak up about it.
  10. Borazine

    Borazine New Member

    Hehe, this happens all the time in science, too.
    Loki, dbk and Hedwaite like this.
  11. Borazine

    Borazine New Member

    True enough, I guess, but can you expect a neophyte to really be able to judge these things? I know when I was just starting out, I had no idea what styles I'd want to study, hadn't heard about the reputations of different schools, didn't know what really great technique looked like, and wouldn't have been willing to travel long distances for quality instruction even if I knew where to find it.

    To be perfectly honest, I think for most beginners an encouraging and non-threatening environment is more important than top-quality instruction.

    Great to hear! Regarding the placeholder issue, I would recommend that you think of each step as another tool you can use, not something that's restricted to a particular level or even dance. There are a lot of moves that can be used in a number of different contexts, perhaps with changes in styling or timing that make it feel like a different pattern...

    In the example of the hustle basic, I'm assuming you're referring to one where you get some rotation but not a whole turn, 90 or 120 degrees or some such. As a somewhat more experienced dancer (who admittedly still sucks at hustle), I do use 180 degree turns as my default, but will occasionally use some lesser amount to adjust (*cough*fix*cough*) my positioning, or even do one or two completely stationary to collect my bearings. It's good to be flexible.

    There's a lot of room for debate over what's the best way to teach, and how quickly to introduce advanced material. I would be willing to bet that anywhere you go, you will find some patterns or techniques that are taught to beginners to help them get a handle on the basics. Many of these things will provide a foundation for more advanced technique, but a select few you'll probably just want to abandon. That's the way it goes, although honestly, Arthur Murray probably does have more... umm, beginner-friendly variations than the competition.

    Much more contentious than the issues you mentioned is the 3-count vs 4-count debate. As Derek mentioned, advanced hustle is almost exclusively danced with 3-count timing. (&1, 2, 3 &1, 2, 3) Many places teach it that way from the start. From what I've seen, Arthur Murray usually introduces it in late Bronze I or early Bronze II, but many students keep dancing 4-count socially.

    If you're unhappy with the situation, you can change studios at any time. You can also try out other schools with the possibility of coming back.
    Shades likes this.
  12. mjnemeth

    mjnemeth Member

    foundation level courses consist of What? What I am getting at is why did you expect to start with other that very basic foundation stuff .

    Ive probably got the wrong of what are "placeholders". So some such moves I use are set ups for advanced moves.
  13. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    Also, you will ALWAYS go back to basic movements.
    Shades and freeageless like this.
  14. davedove

    davedove Well-Known Member

    You've got to learn some basic skills first. You don't walk in the first night and start learning how to "float" around the room. First, you've got to learn to step on the floor right. The basic steps will develop that. As others have said, you may completely abandon some of those steps later, or maybe not. I know, as a leader, some of those basic steps are real good "thinking" steps that you can just do automatically while you're trying to decide what other steps to do next.:play:
    Shades likes this.
  15. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    and trust me, if your technique is bad, and/or you just don't have any yet, the people who dance with you will prefer the basics
    Shades likes this.
  16. freeageless

    freeageless Active Member

    I agree. That is also why I usually repeat a group class-sometimes 2,3 or 4 times. Each time I repeat it, I seem like I learn to do a step or pattern better. Either that or maybe I am a slow learner.
    Hedwaite likes this.
  17. Shades

    Shades New Member

    The Foundation program is the pre-bronze course of instruction. Its purpose is to teach the bare basic skills necessary for movement on the dance floor as well as the basic step for the dances the student wants to learn. In my case (I wanted to learn for social enjoyment), that includes both rhythm and smooth types of dancing. Yes, I have a lot to learn. ;)

    I didn't expect to start with other than basic foundation stuff. It's partly just a matter of my brain going "Wait, you told me THAT was the hustle, now you're telling me THIS is the hustle." It's fine to say that it's all hustle, but some of it didn't seem compatible. Hence the confusion.

    As for the term 'placeholder', that's just a loose description one of my teachers used to try and explain why we were replacing the old moves with the new ones. As such, it seems they were setting me up to learn the more advanced ones.

    It looks like they're doing all right by me for now.

    Edit: Looks like the internet ate most of my post. I'll edit it back when I can.
  18. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    let me tell you this....nearly all of dance is about learning something and then discovering that wasn't quite the whole truth...and then eventually you have to let most all of it to learn how to surrender any sense of control over that right now :)
    Loki, Shades, SwayWithMe and 3 others like this.
  19. Shades

    Shades New Member

    Hello everybody,

    Thanks for all the well wishes and the good advice!

    I took my concerns to both my teacher and my studio manager. I'm still very much in the stage of "you don't know what you don't know", so yes, I'm still learning the basic movements. It turns out that the three-count hustle *is* in the syllabus, I just didn't know where to look. AM is calling it syncopated hustle, and officially comes up at the Bronze II level, if I'm remembering what I saw correctly.

    I guess my worry partly stemmed from the basic movements I was taught when they introduced the hustle to begin with. My brain registered that whole exchange as "Ok, we're learning the hustle now" and those basic movements were "The Hustle" to me. So when I came in a week ago and they were replacing those movements with other movements and telling me that THIS was the Hustle, it made sense in the context of building the more advanced movements on top of the simpler ones, which is why I didn't object immediately, but afterwards my brain went "Wait a minute, if THAT'S the hustle, what the heck were they teaching me the first day they said "Ok, I'm teaching you the hustle now"? *headscratch*

    Some replies that got cut out of my previous response:

    No years, I've only been dancing just over a month.

    This is exactly the case for me. I tend to be shy and have trouble trusting/opening up to people I don't know. Breaking out of that shell and being comfortable doing it is one of many reasons I'm learning to dance in the first place. I need someplace where I can feel safe breaking out of that shell rather than being judged for it.

  20. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    People here understand what you are going through, but also know that after a month or even a few years, that you are only beginning a long journey.

    Try to not be judgemental. Try also to not try to correlate what seems to make sense in your daily world with the task of learning dance. You will find the learning easier if you do not approach it as if it was a task to be learned, like putting together a patio. You'll love it but it WILL be hard as well as easy, frustrating as well as enlightening.
    flightco and dbk like this.

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