Dancemax Letter # 22, Thursday, October 26, 2000

Dancing Tid-bits
Timing and Beat Value

This week's newsletter is by our guest editor and subscriber Howard Spurr of Thank you Howard! and we all appreciate the input. Let's read his letter.

Date: 9/27/00 3:06:28 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: (howard.spurr)
Reply-to: (howard.spurr)

I've just seen your dance letters on the web site and I am working my way through them. I have a couple of comments on number 13 "It's all in the Waltz"

You say that each figure is broken down into 10 elements. I agree with all those you mention but think you have omitted rhythm or timing. Even in waltz the standard 123 is occasionally changed with a syncopation eg chasses.

I would like to think that the number of steps was standard, but unfortunately it is not, unless you restrict yourself to the ISTD manual. The IDTA manual by Guy Howard removes the overlap between figures found in the ISTD book. That is where the last step of one figure becomes the first of the next. As a result the IDTA description often has one less step than the ISTD.

This is particularly noticeable in slow fox-trot. I originally learnt to dance with an IDTA teacher and find the Guy Howard book better than the ISTD one, which is unfortunate now that I am studying for membership of the ISTD. An extreme example of the difference comes in the Fox-trot Feather and Three step.

IDTA feather step ends with RF fwd O/P, R L R, so the Three step following the feather becomes L R L

ISTD adds LF fwd to Feather step, R L R L, the 4th step here then in real life, becomes the first step of Three Step. The ISTD description of three step though, is R L R. This makes discussion of the Feather and Three step rather confusing, even though both schools are saying the same thing.

Keep 'em coming



Point 1. Timing and Beat Value: Howard is absolutely right. Timing is one of the most important elements in any figure. Actually I was obsessed with keeping the Number of elements in a Figure to 10, an easier to remember "even number." Let's see if we can keep Precedes and Follows as one group and assign Timing a number of it's own. So tell me how does this sound?
  1. Number of Steps, letter# 13
  2. Feet Positions letter# 13
  3. Alignment letter# 14
  4. Amount of Turn letter# 15
  5. Rise and Fall letter# 16
  6. Footwork letter# 17 and 18
  7. CBM & CBMP letter# 20
  8. Sway letter# 19
  9. Timing letter# 22 (omitted by error in previous letters)
  10. Precede and Follows letter# 21
Many of you may think, this is childish stuff and that is perfectly alright. As a child, when I learned my English, it was a book called King Reader. It started something like A for Apple, B for Boy, K for King and Q for Queen, etc., which really hasn't changed very much from British India days, but then sometimes I used to forget whether King came first or the Queen? It certainly gives me a framework for my study and analysis. Of course every student is at liberty to modify this according to their own preference, for example one may want to assign Timing right off the bat #1 because perhaps that is what we learn right away when we dance a figure. If you plan to take certification examination either from ISTD or IDTA, rest assured you will be asked those questions (not the sequence number but the contents). As a teacher you must also design your teaching so that all this information can be presented to your students in a way that they will be able to organize their thoughts in a methodical manner. Remember there always is "one student" who will get to your nerves if you are not thoroughly prepared.

Point 2. Number of Steps: Howard's comments on technique and numbering of steps in Feather and Three Step in Slow Fox-trot are very valid. This is also now reflected by differences in ISTD and IDTA (Guy Howard) manuals.

IDTA: Feather Step, R L R.......Three Step L R L
ISTD: Feather Step, R L R L....Three Step R L R

I like my ISTD book, but will make a motion that ISTD also adopt the easier version since this is how we teach everyday. Anybody Second! Yes..! All in favor say "I"...Motion carried. I hope I am not putting myself in double jeopardy here. Happy dancing, Have a great Diwali...Max

Questions and comments to, thank you.

This article is part of and should be seen in the frame context of Dancesport UK, Tid-bits