Dancemax Letter # 36, Thursday Feb 1, 2001
ISTD vs IDTA/ The Books
Please don't take me wrong. I respect both schools a great deal and well for
that matter what else is there. I do believe that terminology in any branch
of study whether it is Medicine, Engineering or Dancing, is important and
should be uniform and universally acceptable. As I started my dance training
in International Style, I was happy to learn that the terms and descriptions
were quite uniform in English dance books. I was also happy to find that
there was, ISTD (Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing). As I trained to
be a teacher I got all their books and disciplined myself basically according
to their technique. It became like a religion and those books became my
guideposts. Yes, I also had very good teachers all along to teach me "How to
As time evolved, I found that there is another school and this one is referred to as IDTA (International Dance Teachers Association). I got their books too. If you want to be a teacher you got to know all aspects of written technique. There always is one student, out there who will try to pick your brains. I want to be well prepared.
Let's talk Latin Books:
The Revised Technique of Latin American Dancing (ISTD) was a little hard to read initially but I got used to it. I strongly disagree when people who say; oh! It is hard to read and not very helpful. I beg your pardon. I think, it is wonderfully written. I think, to write Latin Technique, is so much more abstract and difficult. It remains a phenomenal book in my humble opinion. I am not talking about championship standards or advanced technique. I am referring purely to basics, the syllabus.
So, then I hear about IDTA Latin Book. I got the book. Naturally it was more expensive. Nice bind and good looking book. I started to read. The chart format was a little difficult to get used to because I was used to "my ISTD book". Little by little I got a handle on it and found that it was slightly different in many ways but wonderful piece of work by renowned Mr. Walter Laird.
However as I became more involved, I got my first jolt. I found out that it was an incomplete book and that if I wanted to study Three Threes or Side Steps for that matter, I had to buy another "Supplement". So I sent for that too and I got it and read it. So far so good, it was fun. I loved the book just as well. However what was disturbing to me was that the terminology was slightly different. Now I had to remember almost two different names for some figures. New Yorks became Check from open CPP and PP and things like that. That was OK. But when I saw that Fan had 3 steps in IDTA book and 6 steps in ISTD book, I got a little concerned. This meant, if I was reading an article from Elizabeth Romain or Steve Veral and they say, Preceed with 1 to 3 of Fan, I have to decide which book? Also maybe, I should find out which School do they belong to. This will become a more arduous task as time goes by. Are you getting my point?
Even that is OK, but wait till later and we will see how two schools fare. The sole purpose of these few letters will be to urge ISTD and IDTA and other schools to come together and keep the Basic Steps and Figures essentially the same, at least when it comes to Names, Number of Steps and Basic Technique. Basis are not that different or are They?...
I think we will finish this here today. Next time, will pick a little more, maybe Samba Bounce Action. You go and read it from both books, the IDTA and the new ISTD manual on Samba.
Questions and comments to Dancemax@aol.com, thank you.