Hidden Gems In Your Arthur Murray Program
If you're a fan of Marvel movies or Ready Player One, you'd call them Easter Eggs. If Columbo, Law & Order, or Sherlock Holmes is more your style... they're clues. If you're a major fan of Disneyland, they'd be Hidden Mickeys.
However you refer to them, there are plenty of hidden gems carefully placed throughout your dance program. Think of this as a head start in your search for exciting details that can do everything from give you a sneak preview to the next level in your dancing, or to solve a dance riddle that has given you trouble, and everything in between.
Keep in mind, like any great find, some of these gems are hidden in plain sight, wearing the disguise of something familiar or disregarded, only to reveal something of far greater value.
1. Teaching Aids
The Dance: All of them
The Location: The center and bottom of every dance page of your chart
The Reward: Each teaching aid is a primer on the most essential skills for two levels of your dance program. Levels one and two for the center section, levels three and four for the bottom.
Want to make your Foxtrot smoother? Try the follow through teaching aid with your teacher. How about making Rumba a little less clunky? There's a teaching aid for that as well. Use these exercises with your teacher to extract the full value of your dance program.
2. The 28 Point Teaching System
The Dance: All
The Location: Usually it's the second or third page in your dance binder
The Reward: Ever want to know when you should be expected to know your arm styling? Have you ever asked yourself, "why is my teacher emphasizing this technique so much?" Well, look no further than the 28 Point Teaching System.
It's the breakdown for all the fundamentals, technique, and style from level to level. It's a fantastic way to get the full view of what's in store for your dance program and to better see how the process of your learning is constructed.
3. The Arthur Murray Turn
The Dance: The Waltz
The Location: Bronze 1
The Reward: Plenty of people (this author included) have looked at the pattern named after Arthur Murray himself thinking that it must be something fancy. But, then again, think about what truly made Arthur Murray famous: Simplicity.
Like the unadorned cup from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the Arthur Murray Turn is simple in its construction but delivers a great skill improvement to any who utilize it.
While the default maneuver in Waltz is a Box Step, the Arthur Murray Turn employs a forward hesitation. This forces the leader to maintain a linear position, as opposed to moving laterally as expected. The result is a fantastic improvement for the leader and follower in clarity and sensitivity.
Not to mention, it's extremely practical on a crowded dance floor. We should also include that the Arthur Murray Turn interrelates with the Magic Left Turn in Foxtrot and Slow Left Rock Turn in Tango - which shouldn't come as any surprise to any fan of Mr. Murray's dance program.
4. The Magic Right Turn
The Dance: The Foxtrot
The Location: Bronze 1
The Reward: Let's think about learning to drive for a second. The first direction you learn is straight forward. From there you learn how to turn left, turn right, and eventually, maybe, learn how to parallel park.
As far as directional movements are concerned, on the dance floor there are a few directions that aren't quite as necessary for basic survival early on. Most notably, going backwards. The next, least crucial direction for new dancers is, you guessed it, turning right.
So why would the Magic Right Turn, a pattern that goes both backward and rotates to the right, be a hidden gem in your dance program?
Because, although it is a Bronze 1 variation, the pattern was a Bronze 2 level pattern for decades until the syllabus changed in the early 2000's. It also is the source material for many of the Bronze 3 and above patterns for advanced dancers like the pivot, back twinkle, and natural spin turn.
While it is, technically, a basic step, utilizing this pattern in a corner demonstrates to anyone present that you know your way around the dance floor and that will pay big dividends as you move up the levels.
5. La Puerta/Triple Fans
The Dance: The Tango
The Location: Bronze 2
The Reward: The gem can actually seem like a villain in your dance program. But when you take the time to consider the backstory, you'll understand why.
The La Puerta is exciting. It features the follower executing a fan just outside of the leaders right side (referred to as "Outside Partner Right") and the result is a maneuver that demonstrates a high level of proficiency for everyone involved.
The trick is that it's... well... tricky.
Don't let that dissuade you from this move, however. Yes, this outside swivel component is, technically, a Gold level foxtrot pattern, and it does utilize 3 different dance positions... but who's counting?
Here's a great two-for-one gem that can get your La Puerta back on track: The Triple Fans.
This variation can easily go overlooked... but not anymore! The reason the Triple Fans is so effective is it teaches the same swiveling action of a La Puerta but with some subtle differences.
Most notably, the pattern starts in Promenade. This is important because the transition into the fan/swivel is much easier from promenade than it is from closed and then outside partner position. Fewer dance positions make for a much better La Puerta fan.
So, for everyone in Bronze 2, or anyone past that level that would like to clean up their La Puerta, track down the Triple Fans on your next lesson.
The Dance: Merengue
The Location: Bronze & Silver
The Reward: Great dance teachers are like pharmacists. They understand how to best serve up technique and in what amounts. Too little, and the dance is confusing, too much, and the dance is frustrating.
One of the tried and true methods for teaching great latin dancing is hidden in one of the most overlooked dances: Merengue.
Yes, the party dance that everyone has a general working knowledge of is actually much more useful than that conga line may suggest.
Merengue is one of the most useful dances for teaching timing. 8 beats of music = 8 steps. This may not be a struggle for you but the ease of the footwork allows your brain to process more complex patterns and concepts.
For example, a complicated Cha Cha pattern in any level can be done Merengue-style to develop the turns, changes of direction, and hand holds - without having to also juggle a more complex rhythm.
Your teacher may use the Merengue to assist with dances like Salsa, Hustle or Samba to ensure a successful delivery of advanced patterns to your muscle memory.
So instead of just attacking a challenging pattern head on and "taking your medicine", your teacher, like a great pharmacist, will utilize Merengue like a gel cap around a bitter pill.
7. Argentine Tango
The Dance: Argentine Tango
The Location: Bronze & Silver
The Reward: By itself, the Argentine Tango is as sexy as it is captivating. But unfortunately, too often it resides on an island, cut off from the other dances you're working on or capable of learning.
One of the most critical, if not, the most critical ingredient to social dancing is leading and following. It's non-verbal communication, set to music, between two partners, and it also happens to be the hallmark of great Argentine Tango.
If dancing is a conversation, then Argentine Tango is a dramatic love story... but done completely ad-lib. The subtlety of the movements can be a little challenging - like speaking a new language for the first time, and rewarding - like successfully ordering a meal in that new language.
The spillover effect is tremendous. The clarity and sensitivity of Argentine Tango allows the dancer to utilize that all too important skill of leading and following in every other social dance.
8. Coaching Lessons
The Dance: All
The Location: In your local Arthur Murray
The Reward: Okay, so this isn't just in your dance binder... but it sure can help you progress through it. A coaching lesson is when you and your instructor take a lesson together with a traveling Arthur Murray consultant.
As with any industry, a consultant has an expert vantage point and their goal is to deliver concentrated training to you and your teacher for long term use.
Whether that's choreographing a new routine, polishing up the finishing touches on an existing one, or smoothing out a tricky transition in your Foxtrot - you can't go wrong when working with a dance coach.
Unfortunately, these consultants are still hidden gems for a lot of students. They see a coaching lesson as something that may not fit their dancing goals and nothing could be further from the truth.
9. The Magic Step
The Dance: Foxtrot
The Location: Bronze 1
The Reward: Like the latitude and longitudinal coordinates on a map, two things come together that make this pattern a hidden gem: Talking and dancing.
Sure, this can be attempted in some of the other up tempo dances. Just like you could, technically, sprint with your date through a park to get to know them better. But, in both cases, that may not be the best way to go.
Foxtrot may not have the current street cred of a Salsa but it is the first dance that allows you to shift talking while dancing into "autopilot" and, from there, that skill will begin to propagate... even to the faster dances.
10. The Back Side
The Dance: All
The Location: (listed)
The Reward: Note, this is not your back side. Flip over the page of any of the dances in your chart and you'll find some choice nuggets of hidden dance gem information.
First, the History. There's just enough history listed on each dance that you'll both look, and sound, like a social dance aficionado.
The Characteristics of each dance will, fortunately, reveal much more about the dance than just how it feels in the moment. This will help you understand the goal of the recipe, so to speak.
The Music options are tried and true. Music purchases have never been easier than they are today and you can use the songs listed for each dance as the starting point to an extensive playlist on Spotify, Apple Music, or your favorite streaming service.
The Dance: All
The Location: All
The Reward: This may be one of those things you can't unsee afterwards. Take a look at any Arthur Murray dance chart and you'll see that there are three patterns (school figures) in the first and third levels, and two such patterns in the second and fourth levels.
The three pattern levels are the odd numbered levels.
The two pattern levels are the evens.
The three pattern levels are designed to build a quantity of skills.
The two pattern levels are designed to refine the quality of those skills.
This is helpful if you're ever feeling lost in the process of your development or stuck in the awkward or conscious use stage in the Curve of Learning. There's a good chance that the skill you're trying to develop will be further refined, and reach the glorious natural use stage, in the next even level in your dance program.
If an old western settler - let's call him Ned - stubbed his toe on a rock that turned out to be made of solid gold, you'd call him lucky, but not a gold miner.
He found his fortune through a fortunate circumstance.
When it comes to your history with hidden dance gems, you've definitely had some Ned moments. Maybe it was a pattern, a technique, or a coaching lesson and you were more either too preoccupied or pessimistic to expect the smile that it put on your face or the value it delivered.
But now, hopefully, things are different. Maybe now, you're a fully fledged, genuine articled hidden dance gem hunter.
Maybe now you're prepared to see the clues, features and benefits that are hiding in plain sight just waiting to be discovered in your dance program.
Or you might just slam right into one, like Ned.
But, either way, your dancing will come out all the richer.
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