"Dancing Tid-bits" Issue #55, Thursday June 14, 2001

Dancing Tid-bits
Learning from Videos

Videos, Videos and more Videos. I do not want to embroil myself in an unending discussion such as, which are the best videos or who is on top. I simply want to share my personal experience of learning from videotapes. Which videos you like, is your choice.

1. Are Videotapes a helpful tool in learning to dance? I would definitely say, Yes. I remember the old days when we used to play the 16 mm films to watch an exciting surgical operation by a famous world renowned surgeon or a historical cricket test match for that matter. The technology now is in every family room and if you don't use it, you are missing out.

2. Can you learn to dance from a Video?..the answer is No! (and yes!). You know what I mean. You will be naive to bring a video home and figure out your steps and at the end of the hour say "O' I learned the Waltz today". Impossible, because dancing is not just where your feet go, there is quite a bit more to it. Having said that, Videos have a great place in the training of a dancer. You can take a lesson at home by any world class coach at a nominal price. You can make this coach work back and forth and you can work him to death. However you will only benefit from a video if you had instruction from a good teacher on what you are watching. Videos can enhance your training and better prepare you for a particular lesson and also help review your lesson later. It is an invaluable tool.

Ballroom Videos: I enjoyed the series by Maxwell Bishop and his wife Gwenyth. These were prepared more than 20 years ago. I think Bishops were invited from England by Jim Forrest. They are now settled in Florida. No Sir, nothing gets outdated. You may change the syllabus and all but basically ballroom dancing principles and figures do not change that much. I like this series because the figures are very clearly explained to reasonable details and follow more or less the order as they are in the ISTD book "Ballroom Technique ".There is Bronze, Silver and Gold Levels and then there is a video on Advanced Variations. Very standard and presented well without much fanfare, I think these are excellent syllabus videotapes. They were sold under Jim Forrest Videotapes and sadly Jim died a few years ago of cancer. What a wonderful contribution he made to world of International ballroom Dancing.

2. Latin Videotapes: At about the same time when Maxwell Bishop was working on Ballroom, Jim had Latin dancing covered by Keith Todd and Karen Alexis. You may say " O' Latin has changed so much". Yes, Latin indeed has changed so much but for anyone to say that, you better know what it was and what has changed. The more you will learn the more you will say "Has it really changed? Just as in any other sports, Basics don't change much. First get your basic then develop your own technique and then you can say "this is outdated", though!.It will be difficult to say that. I liked the series by Keith and Karen because again they tried to present it like an ISTD syllabus of Bronze, Silver and Gold Figures in a very straight and simple manner!.... strictly business.Of course there are wonderful tapes by world champions both in Ballroom and Latin but I was greatly benefited by these videos as my building blocks of learning to dance.

I am sure there will be disagreements, and there should be. I will be happy to hear from you and your suggestions and comments, With best wishes, Max

PS: There was so much about Blackpool that I did not want to burden you with my humble and limited insight into world class dancing at that level.

Questions and comments to Dancemax@aol.com, thank you.

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