Monday, December 23, 2013

January 2014 Calendar of Events for Arthur Murray Dance Studio of Dallas & Plano - Group Classes, Parties, and more

January Calendar for Arthur Murray Dallas Group Classes and Dance Parties

January Calendar for Arthur Murray Plano Group Classes and Dance Parties

January Festival Calendar for Arthur Murray Dallas

January Festival Calendar for Arthur Murray Plano

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

We asked the managers at Arthur Murray Dallas and Plano the following question: What is a check out and why is it Important?

You've all heard the buzz in the studios about the upcoming Medal Ball celebration. Your teacher has probably mentioned checking out to you. This week, we decided to ask our esteemed panel of managers for an explanation of what all the fuss is about. Read on...

Sarah: Think of Checkouts like a final exam and graduation mixed with a quality-control check and coaching! Wow, sounds like a lot of great stuff doesn't it?! IT IS! 
   Ever want to know how you are doing? Would you like to keep track of exactly what you're learning and why? Do you ever want to know WHEN you'll actually OWN what you've been learning!? Checkouts do exactly that, plus a graduation celebration when you're through! 
   From the day you stepped in to the studio, your teachers have been preparing you for the real world. In order to do that, you must learn patterns that will help you navigate in any social situation you'll find yourself in. Our Chart is compiled of a list of patterns chosen and ordered by a team of "Jedi Masters of Dancing" that are constantly working to know what's cutting-edge socially. (I guess I have a lot of Star Wars examples (-: ) From lesson number one, you are being taught exactly what you need and in an ingenious order to make life easy for you. The teachers will prepare you to be able to show the patterns to a third party (your supervisors/managers in the studio who have had many many years of experience learning, teaching, and preparing students of their own for this checkout). You will show the pattern without the aid of your teacher, so don't miss your group classes! The supervisor/manager will then give you feedback and a couple pointers on how to make it even better/easier. 
Once you have completed your checkout you are signed up for an honor dance at our graduation party called MEDAL BALL. This is a social, congratulatory, fun event centered around your achievement! 
   Why is this so valuable? Think about school with no tests. Or a road trip with no billboards or mile markers. All of a sudden, what was intended to be a growth enriched and progressive process becomes aimless and ineffective. And if we are being honest with ourselves, we all grow when we have to study, press in, and be under pressure to complete something. Just like when you clean your house for special company versus just picking it up slightly when you get home after a long day of work and no one to impress. The outcome is completely different, isn't it? You will remember more when you HAVE to. And when you can remember something and execute it successfully, you OWN it! Mission Accomplished! 
THAT, ladies and gentlemen, feels GREAT and every student, no matter how "good" they want to get, deserves to feel this level of accomplishment! Enjoy the Journey!

Ian: Checkouts are a great was to demonstrate to yourself how much you've learned in a way that you can actually see and feel!  Knowing that you did it and mastering the steps that you never thought you could when you walked in the door is monumental!  And once a year, the Arthur Murray family joins together to celebrate our achievements in the studio with our annual Medal Ball. Whether you're a brand new student who finally stepped outside your comfort zone and joined the studio, or you just lost the last of those 10 pounds you were trying for, or you reached Silver (at last!), Medal Ball is a time to celebrate your graduation from one milestone to another in your dancing career!  

Nikki: I get asked all the time if a student HAS to do a check-out or if they have to do a check-out in order to go to Medal Ball...  The short answer to both questions is No.  HOWEVER, I do highly recommend doing a check-out as you progress through your levels.

The main reason for my recommendation is so that you can prove to YOURSELF that you know what you are doing.  It's easy in the chaos of life and dancing to actually realize that you are learning something along the way.  A lot of students view themselves as the non-dancer they have always been, no matter what their team of teachers or executives say.  And the reality is, we can only say so much before we turn into the Peanuts Parents and students just don't hear us at all.  A check-out gives you an opportunity to be in the moment, do a figure to the best of your ability, and to recognize that maybe your teachers were correct when they said, "you got this!"  I have NEVER seen a student upset after a checkout, but I have seen 100% of students smile, stand a little taller, and feel great about beginning the next level in their learning!

Ok, so that's all great, but what is a check-out exactly?  The check-out is a time when the student needs to demonstrate that they have an understanding of what step the examiner is looking for.  It isn't a vocabulary test, so it isn't important that you memorize step names, and to be perfectly honest, as an examiner myself, we also aren't looking at how you begin the figure, or end it (as long as that isn't the component we are making sure you know!)  Each figure is there to teach you something important that you will need in your future dancing, and as long as you can show us THAT component, you are good to go.  For example, if I ask to see Promenade Swivels in Rumba, I am looking to see that somewhere you do Swivels in Promenade position...  But lets be honest, dancing isn't about doing each step off the syllabus exactly the way it's written, it's about being about to do different components and having FUN with them!

Check-outs aren't nearly as scary as we think they are...  Sometimes we just put too much pressure on ourselves to get steps JUST RIGHT, and really, there isn't any need for that.  Have some fun, know that it's just about proving things to yourself, not to us, and relax!!!

Justin: A checkout is a benchmark of progress in your dancing journey. To fill in that picture, let's look at the Arthur Murray program.  The Arthur Murray system is called the Medalist System because the levels progress through Bronze, Silver, and Gold. As you learn your Bronze 1 material, you will cover both figures and techniques that serve as the basis for building other levels. The syllabus is designed to inter-relate between the dances and levels, but it's important to recognize the progress you make as you work. It's very easy to get caught up in wanting to be a "good dancer," and to always want to "be better." But as you work towards your ultimate goals, you have to acknowledge the steps you achieve along the way.  Consider a marathon- obviously you want to complete the 26.2 miles that represent the race as a whole. But if you beat yourself up as you run, because you aren't at the finish line yet, what good does that do you? Or you only recognize how much you haven't covered yet, instead of focusing on the fact that you have 5 miles completed, then it can become discouraging or overwhelming. So a checkout serves as a structured reminder of the measurable progress you make on your way to becoming the type of dancer you want to be. That being said, at the point that your teacher says you're ready for the checkout itself, you already know what you need to know. The actual checkout is usually more about proving it to yourself then the teacher checking you. It is often more like a mini-coaching, with feedback to use in your next level. Celebrate your progress with a checkout, and then party with your fellow students at Medal Ball, where we get to recognize your achievement with everyone!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Did You Know? Featuring Arthur Murray Dallas Instructor Ryan West!

Meet Ryan West

Ryan has been an instructor at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio of Dallas for 2 years. His great sense of humor and friendly demeanor have quickly made him a favorite among the students. (Not to mention the little rumor that he looks uncannily like Flynn Rider from Disney's "Tangled"!) Ryan is quite the joker, as you'll see from his answers to our questions...but, did you know?

Favorite Color: Green
Favorite Animal: Sloth
Favorite Candy: A giant Whitman's Sampler Box
Favorite Dance: Mazurka

Ryan started dancing at the age of 8. His first job was as a Physical Therapy Technician. He says if he could do anything other than what he does today, he would be a Movie Producer!

Ryan says one thing that is unique about him is that he has Heterochromia! His idol is Willy Wonka (thus the giant Whitman's Sampler mentioned above!). He would love to visit the Bermuda Triangle someday!?!?! And he says if he were a Disney character, he would be the Mad Hatter! Great stuff!

Ryan obviously is a people person! His answers to what makes him laugh, cry, scared and inspired were all the same..."People". The thing he loves most about his job at Arthur Murray is that he gets to impact people's lives.He loves to read and his favorite quote is:

Monday, December 9, 2013

Did You Know: Featuring Arthur Murray Dance Studio of Plano manager Nikki Holland!

Meet Nikki Holland

Nikki has been an integral part of the Arthur Murray family in DFW since 2002! She started as an instructor in Dallas, working her way up through the ranks to become Manager. She recently switched to the Plano studio where she is currently leading the troops! She's a fiery redhead who uses a drill sergeant's whistle on her lessons...but did you know...

Favorite Color: Yellow

Favorite Food: Sushi

Favorite Movie: Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken

Favorite Animal: Horse

Nikki's first job ever was Concert Security! She's a tough cookie - she says the bravest (or maybe dumbest) thing she ever did was ride a 3.000 pound bull just to prove she could! She is inspired by dedication and hard work, and has a fear of losing!
Those rhinestones go great with those spurs!

She says if she could do any other job other than what she does now, she would be a party planner! (If you've been to any of our events, you know this is right up her alley!) She enjoys reading, horseback riding, and playing music. She loves to laugh at stupid jokes, and says everything makes her cry, especially since she's pregnant!

If Nikki could visit anywhere in the world, she would go to Ireland! She prefers tea over coffee, loves Christmas-time, and idolizes her mother! Her favorite thing about teaching is seeing students have those "lightbulb moments". She says if she were a Disney character, she would be Tigger!

Nikki has a unique talent, too. She can cry like a baby without anyone knowing its her! Might have to ask her to show you!

Nikki's quote to live by is:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Did You Know? Featuring Arthur Murray Dance Studio of Dallas Instructor Adriann Alexander

Meet Adriann Alexander

Adriann has been a valuable member of the Arthur Murray Dallas staff for the past 8 years. She has spent time teaching in both the Dallas and Plano studios and has touched the lives of many students. Her extensive dance knowledge led her to be named Dance Director, and her love of dance shines through to anyone she encounters. Adriann is a talented choreographer, dancer, and teacher, but did you know...
Adriann (right) with Zack Stevens
 and one of her students who
received an award at
Texas Showdown.

Favorite Movie: Breakfast at Tiffany's

Favorite Dance: West Coast Swing

Favorite Animal: Dogs

Favorite Food: Mexican

Adriann is at her happiest at this time of year. Her favorite holiday is Christmas, and she loves all the colors of the season! She adores winter clothing and all the great holidays! She is inspired by humanity and seeing people sacrifice and work to help others. She loves to laugh with friends and family - just another reason to love the holidays!

Adriann says she is scared by the National Debt. She enjoys dancing, reading, writing, and horseback riding. If she could visit anywhere in the world, she would go to Ireland. She says the bravest thing she does is to leave her house every morning without safety gear!

Adriann's love of dance started when she was just 4 years old. He first real job was babysitting, and she says that if she could do any job in the world, she'd be a counselor or a teacher...Adriann is EXACTLY what she always wanted to be growing up! If she was a Disney character, she'd be the Cheshire Cat from "Alice in Wonderland".

Adriann's idols are her mother and Audrey Hepburn. Her quote to live by is:

Monday, December 2, 2013

Manager's Forum: Why do I need to learn Cuban Motion if I only want to be a social dancer?

In this week's Manager's Forum, we asked a very popular question that we hear from a lot of students! Why do I need to learn Cuban Motion if I only want to be a social dancer? Our managers at Arthur Murray Dallas and Plano gave us some great feedback! This should clear things up for you!

"Cuban motion in the simplest definition is traditionally “proper hip movement” ... Cuban Motion is what the body does naturally to maintain balance and control when shifting weight from one leg to the other." - Joe Donato

Let's hear from our female managers first:

Sarah: You need to learn Cuban Motion BECAUSE you want to be a social dancer! Well, wait. Maybe I should ask if you want to be the kind of social dancer that no one wants to dance with and that looks stiff and awkward trying to do a bunch of steps? OR if you want to be a well-rounded, fluid, fun-to-dance-with and can clearly feel and hear the music kind of social dancer? I am guessing you want the latter. 
Imagine this; You are walking in to get your relaxing full body massage, it's cold outside and you are very tense... You go into the room and you get on the table, ready to relax and feel a physiological change. Next thing you know, a clumsy, awkward and stiff metal robot walks in and a recording says, "I will be performing your full body massage today." The robot robotically dims the light and clunks over to you like C3PO and begins your massage... I have one word for that.... "YIKES!!" This is what NOT learning Cuban Motion does to your dancing and "YIKES!!" is the word everyone around you will be thinking when watching you dance "Socially".

Cuban Motion gives you a quality that can either help you FIT IN to the social crowd or if you'd like, you can "Wow!" people and stand out in a good way. In addition to all the logical reasons why we need Cuban Motion like stronger lead, sound style of dances, feel for the music and control/understanding of your body in movement, Dancing is a 'Human' thing. Dancing is NOT a Robotic thing. Dancing involves emotions, feeling, MUSIC, connection and communication with another person that has to constantly change and adjust to any and all outside influences... Rigidity will fail in these situations. Einstein said, "The measure of intelligence is the ability to change." Social dancers MUST be able to adjust.You can't predetermine who will be at the club, what songs they will play or what kinds of scenarios you may have to face on the dance floor. Flexibility in your body is necessary to be a great social dancer, a comfortable, strong, fun, "Human" social dancer. Like a lava lamp or a Volcano, you can be stubborn with your structure, your frame and your lead/follow, but when it comes to your body moving; Be infinitely FLEXIBLE and constantly AMAZED. 

Nikki: I get asked a lot why someone, especially men, need to learn Cuban Motion...  And while there is an aspect of "looking the part", the answer is actually much more simple.  It is the lead needed to communicate with your partner.  I'm speaking mostly to men, as many women are willing to let their body move naturally and so they are ok with body movement happening.

As men, there aren't many times in their life when they have had to move easily with motion, so there aren't many practice opportunities.  However, there ARE things in real life that will help everyone to understand why Cuban Motion is so important to the rhythm of dancing.  If you are on a sail boat, and need to walk from one end to the other, and you try to do it stiff legged, and without adjusting to the motion of the ocean, what happens?  IF you make it down the boat without falling over, it was a really rough ride, right?  Dancing is the same.  Using at least some Cuban Motion allows for a "smoother" ride along the dance floor.  And it allows your partner to have a good sense of what you are doing, and what you are going to do next, which allows THEM to have better time with you.  Now, do you need to learn competitive Cuban Motion?  No.  Only high competitors need that.  Everyone else will be just fine with an understanding of how to move their body easily, and then translate that into something their partner needs.  Your teacher will likely work on the concept of Cuban Motion quite a bit, maybe more then what you think you might need, but what they are really working on is your ability to move your body easily and freely.  And often, we need to exaggerate things in the beginning,  and then we can tone it down later.

Hang in there, Cuban Motion is necessary.  We promise.  And it isn't to turn you into a competitive dancer, it's to make YOU a better partner to everyone else!

And now the men:

Ian: Well, cuban motion is the whole reason they're called RHYTHM dances.  The body action used to make the dances recognizable is also what makes them both feel and look good. To look your most beautiful or feel your most studly on a dance floor, you need to look relaxed and fluid.  And let's be honest, no one ever watched a robot move, and said, "Hey, those moves are hot!".  And feeling good comes from feeling in control of your body so that you can relate how the music makes you feel and how much fun you're having to your partner without having to literally say, "Wow, this is so much fun" (said in that really awkward and nerdy voice only heard in movies).  Cuban motion isn't for competitive dancers only; it's for anyone who wants to look and feel great while they dance, both for themselves and for their partner. 

Justin: Cuban motion helps you look better AND feel better. It is definitely not one of the most natural things we do as dancers (at least not to start) but the more familiar we get, the more it helps it helps our dancing. In terms of how our dancing looks, cuban motion is what puts the body rhythm into our "rhythm dances."  It allows us to express the music through multiple layers in our body.  As we develop those layers, we'll look at how we use our feet, knees, hips and torso. It will eventually lead to more fluid movement, even though in the beginning it feels like even more to keep track of. When we start our rumba, for instance, the box step often feels choppy. As we add cuban motion, the dancing can feel like your teacher asked you to play twister while walking.  We promise, it will become less awkward and more connected, creating a better feel as we dance. It also will help the guys lead better, through clearer weight transfer.
All of this does require you to be patient- none of this happens overnight. Most of us didn't grow up doing cuban motion, and we don't walk through the grocery store doing it (most of us), so the limited practice means you need to cut yourself some slack. And unlike many other techniques that only have a couple layers, cuban motion has many layers. So you should expect to continue developing it for a long time- no rush, and no beating yourself up unnecessarily! Have fun with it, and you'll find cuban motion really does enhance your dancing!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Arthur Murray Dance Studio of Plano Events Calendar Groups, Parties December 2013

Manager's Forum: What is the Difference Between "Using the Floor" and "Floorcraft"

Are you ready to learn something? For this week's manager's forum question, we asked the managers AND the Dance Director's at the Arthur Murray Dallas and Plano studios for their explanation of the difference between "using the floor" and "floorcraft". What we ended up with were these awesome answers!

Ian & Sarah at the 2012 Texas Showdown
Ian: "Using the floor" simply means pushing off the floor with your feet so that you can move more easily and with more fluidity.  "Floorcraft" is actually how you get around the floor.  In both smooth and rhythm, but more so in smooth, you really have to be able to navigate your way around the floor so that you can fully get into the dance and truly express all of it's characteristics without running into other couples.
Adriann at the 2013 Cancun Showcase

AdriannWhen your teacher says "use the floor", he or she is referring to the way you use your feet against the floor to move yourself. Like jumping, your feet pushing against the floor, uses the floor as leverage to move your body. "Floor-Craft" is, essentially, driving. Remember, when you're dancing, you're the only car on the road, so don't run yourself or your partner in to anyone else. 
Justin & Nikki competing

JustinTo me, "using the floor" deals with how your foot interacts with the floor, where "floorcraft" deals with navigating and direction of movement around the floor.  
So when we talk about using the floor, we want to be aware of what part of our foot touches the floor, how we slide or roll along the floor with our foot, and how we use friction with the floor to move against it. For instance, pushing the edge of your foot against the floor to move in the opposite direction is an example of using the floor.  This is why it's important to keep your shoes brushed, as we need texture to create friction between the foot and floor.  This is also what we are referring to when we talk about dancing on top of the floor versus "using the floor." Cuban Motion, for example, should be a result of your feet and legs interacting with the floor, not just a lot of movement near the surface.
Floorcraft, on the other hand, will relate to where you face on the floor, and how you move around it. Room alignments, like Line of Dance, help you aim your traveling figures.  Understanding that certain figures serve specific purposes--like traveling, rotating, or picture steps-- will help you choose which figure to use next.  It's important for men especially to develop skills to protect his partner from other less-aware couples, as well know how to brake quickly or "shoot the gap."  For both men and women, it's important to know etiquette for dancing on a crowded floor compared to an open floor with more space between dancers.  Size of step and arm styling can effect floorcraft because it concerns your neighbors on the dancefloor.  

The less-dance-nerdy version is that using the floor is pushing on the floor with your feet to make your dancing more comfortable and balanced. Floorcraft is making sure you don't run in to people when you're dancing. Clear as mud, right?

Lindsey & Ian at the
2013 Texas Showdown
Lindsey: Using the floor vs floor craft

To me, I have a mental image when it comes to these topics. Picture this:

1) imagine one of your favorite movies where the scene depicts a king preparing for battle by seeing an areal view of the landscape and sees how his chess pieces can move in the most strategic way.

For a man on the dance floor, his teacher is his trusted advisor that intentionally created the flight plan  for his most successful and skillful  route around the floor. You can see this skill by observing the plan from an areal view and see how it maps out to your advantage. This is the art of using the floor.
But scenario 2 comes into play when the actual battle begins and plan turns into action. For example:

2) The man is aware of what he needs to accomplish and then he himself realizes that there will be obstacles that will try to thwart the plan. Imagine this idea:

You are actually on the battlefield in the front line. In that moment, the leader is in the moment, knows what he is supposed to do, however must adjust his strategy to what the reality is and find the best way to maneuver through the unknown. This is the art of floor craft.

Therefore, there should always be a plan to what a leader wants to accomplish, but also have a fine balance between strategy and what reality will throw at you.

Nikki & Justin at the 2012 Showdown
NikkiThe difference between "using the floor" and "floorcraft" is a huge one when I am teaching...

I can certainly see where "using the floor" can mean using all corners and such; however, if I'm teaching, I'm referring to your feet on the actual floor.  A lot of times when I see people dance I see surface movement, meaning that they are using the big muscles in their legs, but no muscles in their feet.  When you are dancing, it should actually be the tiny muscles in your feet that work to move you from foot to foot, and across the floor...  Not your thighs, or head weight.  Imagine standing on one foot with the other in the air...  (or actually try it!)  then pushing from the leg you are standing on, jump onto the one you just had in the air.  Using the floor is very much like that.  Another analogy is to think of the old school tread mills...  The one's that weren't motorized.  In order to start them, you had to push hard with your feet into the belt and then make it slide backwards.  That's also "using the floor."  One last thought for those of you that used to be in marching band.  Do you remember how to roll your feet to move across the field so that your instrument didn't bounce?  That is also "using the floor."  If you can look at your feet, point your toes and notice little muscles pop up from being flexed, good job!  You are "using the floor!"  If you can't, just keep working!  It will come.

Now, as for "floorcraft..."  Well, I think this the most important skill that a man can develop in dancing.  This is the road map that a man will use to get around the floor.  "Floorcraft" is often looked at like a chess board.  How is each piece moving, and which piece is moving at a particular time.  However, since I am terrible at chess, I have to think of it as driving on a highway.  Back in the old days, before GPS, we all had to plan our own trips based on maps.  Then, if we ran into traffic, we had to do some quick recalculating of our own and find a new route.  Dancing is the same way.  We can set out on doing a specific set of steps, and traveling a specific way, but if there is traffic, an accident, or a lane closure, we have to be will to adjust, and adjust quickly.  This is often pretty easy if we are dancing rhythm, as we are not trying to move around the floor...  But in smooth, we have to make sure that we are not the car waiting till the last minute to try and get over, or the car that ignores the caution signs and ends up as part of the problem.

Both techniques make dancing a much more enjoyable experience for all involved, so make sure you are studying both!

Sarah at the 2013 Cancun Showcase
Sarah: What a wonderful question! All the true dance nerds will surely eat this up and get very excited about it! So here it goes;
Floor craft is like driving a car in traffic. Sometimes the traffic is heavy, sometimes it's light but you can learn how to drive you and your partner around like a Ferrari! Most times you start like a Mack truck and as you learn different patterns you can begin to grow your agility, your response time becomes faster and you handle the turns and breaks better! FUN! 
"Using the Floor" is how you use the relationship between your feet and the only constant thing in dancing ( the floor) to move your body. Using the floor with your feet is the same as how a tire uses tread. It gives the car traction, groundedness, control and a smooth strong ride. So yes, they both have to do with the QUALITY of movement, but in two very different ways. Floor craft = quality of movement in a crowd or in the "big picture". 
Using the Floor = quality of movement in your own body from your feet and how you feel, just to your partner. 

What I really love about doing this post each week is that you can very clearly see the benefit of learning from as many of our instructors as possible. Everyone interprets, understands, and explains things just a little differently, and when you take all that information in and let it simmer for awhile, what comes out will be a amazingly well-balanced dancing! 

Dallas Event Calendar, Group classes, Parties for Arthur Murray Dance Studio

Did You Know? Featuring Arthur Murray Dallas Dance Instructor Ulysses Kronos

Meet Ulysses Kronos AKA Uly

Uly has been an instructor at with the Plano and Dallas studios for 4 years. His quirky sense of humor and his great smile make him a joy to work with and learn from. He's been a repeat offender for winning Best Dressed Staff Member at our annual Christmas party. But, did you know...

Uly dances with one of his students, Phyllis, at the
Texas Showdown.
Favorite Movie: The Notebook

Favorite Animal: Lion

Favorite Dance: Cha Cha

Favorite Color: Blue 

Uly says that according to his mom, he first started dancing when he was still in her stomach. Dancing has been a life long interest for Uly, and although his first job was as a Dental Assistant, he says if he could do any other job he would be a Back-Up Dancer! 

We all know that Uly has sense of humor. He says the funniest thing that has ever happened to him was that he accidentally wore a mismatched pair of black shoes for 3 days straight! 

He says the bravest thing he ever did was moving to the US with only $40 in his pocket! If he could visit anywhere in the world, he would go back to Greece. His favorite season is fall because he knows the Holidays are coming! Uly loves to surround himself with happy people and is inspired by friendships, family and love.

His idol is Benito Juarez, and his favorite thing about being a dance teacher is seeing the smile on his students faces when they actually feel the music! His heart is located more towards the center of his chest, and if he were a cartoon character, he says he would be Mighty Mouse! 

Uly's quote to live by is:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Manager's Forum: Why is it so important to have a good frame?

This week, we asked the managers at Arthur Murray Dallas and Plano to tell us about the importance of a good frame. Here's what they said...

1) JustinFrame serves two purposes- communication and aesthetics. If you are dancing in an event, performing a show, or just want to be sure people enjoy watching you dance, your frame and topline are some of the first things people notice. Like your posture, your frame conveys confidence and experience. But when it comes to the social aspect of dancing, few things make more of a difference than leading and following. Your ability as the man to communicate where you're going and how fast you're going will put her at ease and put the energy back into having fun. As the lady, the better you can listen, the easier it is to follow, and your frame is your new set of ears. Rather than saying where and when, the frame is the way to non-verbally talk to each other on the floor, and that takes practice. But just like any other language, you'll become fluent by immersing yourself as much as possible. The more people you get to dance with, the parties and events you attend, all teach you how to adjust to each nuance of your partner. Be patient and diligent with your frame, and you'll be a master communicator in no time. 

2) SarahHaving a good frame is like having good pronunciation or the ability to speak all languages. The frame is how you communicate with your partner. Communication (physically) is the most important thing about dancing with another human being. Having a good frame promotes good connection which promotes amazing communication. And when the Lead is clear and the Follow is open, dancing is truly an amazing experience! 

3) NikkiI am sure that everyone knows the logic behind a good frame: it's the foundation to the dancing, you don't want the frame of a house to be unstable, etc.  But I don't know that many people think of how it relates to their partner...  And how it can ease the most common complaint, "He/she isn't Leading/Following!"

Most guys think that if they know all the steps, the girl will follow, and the dance will be great.  They spend SO much time making sure the steps are perfect, that they don't spend an appropriate amount of time working on trying to make sure that they communicate those steps.  Everyone grumbles when "the Rack" (the metal dance frame) makes an appearance, or if they are forced to dance with the lovely "Sue" (a Chair), but really, they are great tools to really understand what your frame is doing, or not doing...  Just because a guy knows his steps, doesn't mean that he is communicating them correctly.  His elbows may be sliding behind him, making the lady complain he is pulling on her, or maybe he is moving his frame independently of is body, making the lady feel like he is pushing her over.  Neither of these things makes a desirable dance partner.  I challenge ALL men to take "Sue" hold her up with her back away from you (so you can't cheat), and see if, as you are dancing, she changes position.  When you can do ALL your steps and routines with her in the correct position, you are ready to try things with a real live girl!  Of course, it's always an ongoing process, but at least it will make you more aware of what you are ACTUALLY leading when you try things out at a party.

Women - You aren't off the hook.  I hear all the time, "If he would just learn to lead, I can follow..."  Ok, that is true, but only up to a certain point.  Most women who say that aren't really that great at following, and they are the "Hangers" and "Fridges."  A women's frame is equally as important as a man's, and actually has to be MORE sensitive.  Otherwise she feels heavy and immovable.  Women, it isn't the man't job to hold up your arms, or your upper body.  By doing that, you are sending your energy straight down to the ground, and you aren't going to feel anything he sends your way.  (Plus it exaggerates that chicken wing/saggy skin look in your arms that we all hate!)  By the same token, your frame can't be so hard that man feels like he is in a pushing match.  If you feel like you are pushing against him and your back and arms hurt, that's WAY too much.  Dancing shouldn't be painful, no matter what we, as teachers, sometimes tell you! ;-)  Relax, hold up your hands, and just feel.

The frame is all about communication.  And in order to be a great partner, you have to be great at communicating...  On BOTH ends.  The man has to be clear about where he is wanting to go, and the lady has to be clear that she understood, and is willing to go on the journey with him.  Without both sides, you are just dancing NEAR each other, but not really WITH each other...

4) Ian: A good frame is one of the key components for everything that man is trying to get the woman to follow.  Without a good frame, the man can't effectively communicate how fast he is traveling and which direction he wants the lady to go, short of literally whispering to her under his breath (which I've seen many students try without much success).  You can't have a beautiful picture without a strong, solid frame to support it, just as it's very difficult for a woman to be fully shown off in the most beautiful way on the dance floor without a stong, solid man to support and lead her.

5) Amy: The frame in dancing is probably the most pivotal part of the partner relationship and the ability to communicate. The frame must be firm, yet forgiving, strong, yet subtle. It must communicate the nuances and respond to the slightest signal. It is how the dancers speak to each other. With a great frame, the dance will feel effortless, but without it...well, not so much. Here is the analogy I normally use when explaining frame. 

Have you ever been driving down the highway and seen the wonderfully frightening sight of a car being towed with a ROPE?!? This seems to be a common occurrence in Dallas. So, obviously, you have a leader car and a follower car. But, you have a wiggly, loose rope in between ("spaghetti arms" for the Dirty Dancing fans out there). So, if the lead car brakes suddenly, what happens? Well, unless the driver of the following car is really paying attention, probably a crash. What if the lead car accelerates suddenly? You can see the rope being pulled taught and then the following car feeling the "yank". This is what dancing with a poor frame can feel like. Pulling, pushing, yanking, trying to second guess ahead of time what the leader is going to do. All these things are uncomfortable and detrimental to an enjoyable dancing experience. Now, let's take another example, a car being towed with a nice, strong steel towing bar. Consider all of the same scenarios. You now have flawless communication. As one speeds or slows, so does the other. In fact, are you ready for this? You no longer even need a person in the following car at all. The person there (ladies, this is you) can just kick back and relax and trust that the frame will guide them. No need to keep a foot on the brake, no need to think ahead and try to read his mind. Just sit back, relax and enjoy. 

So, what this all means is that if you become a master of the frame, you will also become a master leader or follower, and everything else is secondary!  

Did You Know? Featuring Arthur Murray Dallas Dance Instructor Bailey Kenzington

Meet Bailey Kenzington

Bailey has been dancing with the Arthur Murray Dallas staff for 5 years! Her bubbly personality, brilliant smile, and ever changing hair color make her a bright spot in the day for so many people. She is a constant ray of sunshine...but did you know...
Bailey dances with one of her students
at the 2013 Showcase By the Sea in
Cancun, Mexico

Favorite Color: Neon Green
Favorite Animal: Giraffe
Favorite Movie: Pitch Perfect
Favorite Vacation Spot: Italy

Bailey got her first taste of dance when she was just 2 years old. Her first dance style? Tap! Since then, dance has been an integral part of her everyday life. She says the thing she fears most is one day not being able to dance. Her favorite thing about being a dance teacher? Getting to share her passion and what she loves with others every day. The bravest thing she has ever done was getting out on a competition floor with less than 4 weeks of preparation!

Bailey's first job was babysitting, but if she could be anything other than a dance teacher, she would want Jennifer Garner's job in "Alias". Interesting stuff, huh? She enjoys crafts and baking. If Bailey were a Disney character, she says she would be Cinderella.

Bailey's idol is any Proverbs 31 woman. Her quote to live by is:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


"How Dancing Transformed My Life" #transformationaltuesday #dance


Monday, November 11, 2013

Did You Know? Featuring Arthur Murray Plano Dance Instructor Lindsey Jordan...

Meet Lindsey Jordan

Lindsey has been a staple of the Arthur Murray Plano staff for 6 years! Her bubbly personality and bright smile are contagious! Lindsey has a great sense of humor, but when she means business, you'll know it! Here are a few fun facts about Lindsey:

Lindsey with her student, Tore Bellis,
and Guest Judge Lynda Smith at the
2012 Texas Showdown
Favorite Color(s): Turquoise and Black (I guess that explains her costume choice!)
Favorite Movie(s): The Princess Bride, Nacho Libre, all 3 Back to the Future movies
Favorite Dance(s): Bolero, Viennese Waltz, American Tango
Favorite Food(s): Steak and Authentic Mexican Cuisine

Lindsey has been dancing since she was 3 1/2 years old. She actually took her first class at age 2 1/2, but threw up during class. I guess she knows first hand just how nervous a new student or first time competitor can be! Her first job was teaching/assisting dance classes at the age of 12. But, Lindsey says if she could do any other job in the world other than teaching dance, she would be a Research Physician specializing in autoimmune diseases or working at the CDC!

She lives for Coffee, loves summertime, and wants to someday travel throughout Europe! She says if she were a Disney character she would be Snow White!

Lindsey's Quotes to Live By:

But she does add that "Practice makes Permanence"!

Stay tuned to learn more about our awesome Arthur Murray instructors!


Having Trouble Understanding Your Teacher? What’s Your Learning Style? -


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Managers Forum: What is the most common mistake made by new dancers?

We asked the managers of the Dallas and Plano Arthur Murray Studios to tell us
"What is the most common mistake made by new dancers?"

This is what they said:

IanI think the most common mistake that I've seen new dancers, both students and teachers alike, make is that they try to be "perfect" or "right" all the time.  Dancing is an expression of a feeling that you get when you hear music.  There's no way to be perfect with your feeling or your emotions, so why would you aspire to do the same with your dancing?  Just as you emotionally mature with age, so you mature with your competence and skill the longer you dance.  So, in the end, just listen, feel, and move...the rest will come!

JustinThe most common mistake made by new dancers is to be too hard on themselves. Especially as adults, we forget what it's like to learn something new. We're used to being good at everything we do, and it has usually been a long time since we learned something physical (like driving a car). So we have an unrealistic expectation of how quickly we should proceed, or how much we should remember from one lesson to the next. We need to be patient with ourselves- remember that understanding something in our heads and getting our body to cooperate does not usually happen simultaneously. The hardest part is the initial hump of believing you can learn!

SarahThe most common mistake made by new dancers varies from man to woman. New male dancers make the mistake of thinking more steps makes them better and more enjoyable to dance with. So they know a bunch of steps but cannot lead any of them. Not fun or enjoyable for any woman. Women make the mistake of what we commonly call "back-leading". In their mind they are helping their partner, but in reality it does more damage than good to try to help the man lead. The best thing for a woman to do is trust her man and release the need to control. All women want to be beautiful and taken care of in the dance floor and men want to be a strong lead for his woman. When his lead makes a woman smile he is in "dance heaven". 

NikkiIn my experience, the most common mistake made by new dancers is not allowing themselves enough time to actually learn.  There are 2 types of students in this category, and they are both making the same mistake.

The 1st student thinks they can't learn.  They come in, beat themselves up for the entire lesson, and then walk away "knowing" that they were right.  The issue wasn't that they couldn't learn, it's that they didn't allow TIME to learn.  How many of us fell off our bikes the first time we tried to ride it without training wheels?  But just because we fell off that first time doesn't mean we weren't capable of learning eventually.  Relax, breathe, and remember that this is a new motor skill to learn.  For most of us, learning to drive a car was the last time we had to learn a new skill.

The 2nd student thinks they should have it NOW.  This student walks into the studio never having failed at anything, and they believe the dancing should be the same.  I'm not saying that students fail while learning to dance, quite the opposite in fact, if the teaching is right, learning to dance should be nothing but full of successes.  However, the student that thinks they should be great right now, believes that if they don't look like the dancer in their head after 10 min of instruction, they have failed.  And the failure, to them, means they shouldn't be trying to learn to dance.  Again, the reality here is that they just didn't give themselves enough time to become that dancer in their head.  And it really doesn't matter how many lessons you try to cram into your brain in a day, nothing can make up for "Floor Time".  

Amy: I believe that the most common mistake new dancers make is to compare themselves to the other dancers in the room. Of course, this mistake is also made by dancers at every other level, too! Remember the old adage about the race horse and never looking back to see where your competition is? I used to say that I wished I could put blinders on my students so they could not see the other students in the room. Unless you have had an in depth conversation with another person, you have no idea how long they have been dancing, what kind of skills they possessed coming into the studio, how much they practice, or anything like that. So, the frustration that you create in your mind by comparing yourself to someone else who maybe has been dancing for years instead of days, or maybe was a ballerina as a child, or maybe has the time to put in a lot of practice, or whatever, is totally unnecessary! Focus on what YOU are doing and where YOU are going and be the best dancer you can possibly be! And remember, it's all about having a good time!

How to Be A Good Dance Partner Part 3: "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

So far, we have talked about making sure you don't smell bad and what you should say to your dance partner. Today, we are going to talk about listening! Dance is a partner activity. It requires an awareness on the part of both dancers in order to be an enjoyable activity. You must LISTEN to what your partner is telling you! A few tips:

1) Listen to what they say about themselves, respond, and remember! When you remember small details about someone, such as their kids or pets names, it validates that they are important to you. It also makes you a great conversationalist, which everyone loves! Try to avoid spacing out and not paying attention to the person you are dancing with. It makes you seem rude, boring, and inconsiderate, and no one wants to dance with that kind of person!

2) Listen to their body language! This is very important for 2 reasons: you can gauge their comfort level with you, and you can tell a lot about how you should adjust your lead/follow. Pay attention to whether they are dancing closely or if they are holding themselves away from you. This is a good measure of their comfort level (or interest level) in you. Please, respect the physical space boundary they set. It is never fun to feel like there is a tug of war happening on the dance floor, where she sets her comfort zone and he keeps trying to pull her closer and she keeps trying to reestablish her space. Trust me, it is not fun, and it won't help, so just accept and respect the space that your partner is setting.

Now, it is important to keep in mind that this ALSO tells you about their dance ability... Someone who sets a wide personal zone may be a less experienced dancer and may be worried about their feet stepping on yours/being stepped on or whether or not they can lead/follow you. If they seem to tense up when you try to spin them, take that as a sign and take it easy on the twirling. I once danced with a guy who literally picked my feet up off the ground and crushed me against him every time he spun us around. No matter how hard I tried, he wouldn't stop. I honestly felt like I was bruised after that song ended and I DID NOT dance with him again.

Your goal when dancing with a partner is to make sure that you BOTH are having a good time. So be a gracious and kind partner and heed what your partner is saying both verbally and physically!

3) Listen to the music! This seems like an obvious one, but don't get so caught up in counting, trying to remember steps, or zipping through traffic that you forget about the music! Relax, take your time, and have fun!

If you are interested in learning to dance, contact your local Arthur Murray Dance Studio today!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

How To Be A Good Dance Partner Part 2: "Say What?"

What you say before, during, and after dancing with someone can make or break whether they see you as a good dance partner and will want to dance with you again. Ballroom dancing is one of the last few truly social activities available today. It is a great way to meet new people and get to know them in a fun atmosphere. When you are dancing with a partner, you have ample opportunity to talk to them, so it is important that you know what to say to leave a good impression and make the dance enjoyable for both of you. Here are a few tips: 

1) Before the dance - When approaching a dance partner, be polite. If they are in the midst of a conversation, say "Pardon Me" or "Excuse Me" and wait to be acknowledged before asking for the dance. Always introduce yourself with a smile. Ask "Would you like to dance?" (Although traditionally the men ask the women to dance, it is also now perfectly acceptable for a woman to ask a man to dance.) If your offer to dance is accepted, take the person's hand and lead them onto the dance floor. If the offer is declined (no matter what the reason), be courteous and understanding. You never know when the opportunity might arise again with that particular person and you don't want to burn your bridges by being rude. We will discuss accepting and declining a dance in more detail in a later blog post.

2) During the dance - This is where you have the most opportunity to interact with your partner. Here are a few tips:

DO:                                                                           DON'T:
-ask questions about your partner                               -talk only about yourself
-sing along to the song                                                -don't count out loud as you dance
-say positive things about their dancing                        -correct your partner on their dancing
-find something to compliment them about                   -make fun of them
-SMILE!                                                                    -FROWN!

Remember that everyone is out to have a good time. You don't want to come across as selfish, boring, obnoxious, full of yourself, insecure or overbearing. Be genuinely interested in the person you are dancing with and find something to genuinely compliment them on. Everyone's favorite topic to talk about is themselves, by asking them questions you get a chance to learn more about them. The more fun your partner has, the more likely they are to dance with you again and to encourage their friends to dance with you! 

3) After the dance - There is really only one main rule for when the music ends, but it's very important.

MEN: Do NOT leave your partner alone on the dance floor and walk away. PLEASE escort her to the edge of the dance floor and thank her for the dance

WOMEN: SAME RULE! Do NOT leave your partner in the middle of the dance floor and walk away. Allow him to escort you to the edge of the dance floor and thank him for the dance.

Next time: Part 3: "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

Interested in learning to dance? Contact the Arthur Murray nearest you to get started today!

Arthur Murray Dance Studio of Dallas November Group Class and Event Calendar

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How To Be A Good Dance Partner! Part 1: "Winning By A Nose"

Learning to dance is one thing, but being a good dance partner is a whole other ballgame. You can take dance lesson after dance lesson and practice until you are blue in the face, but unless you heed these guidelines, you may not have anyone to try out your dance moves with!

Winning by a Nose: 

1) Let's first talk about Oral Hygiene. We all know that bad breath (also known as Halitosis) is offensive. Partner dancing (Ballroom, Latin, Swing, Country Western, Salsa) means you will be in close proximity to the other person's face and mouth. Your dance partner is particularly susceptible to noticing if you have bad breath. There are many things that can cause bad breath like garlic and onions, rotten or decaying food stuck in your teeth, cigarette smoke, alcohol*, or just plain old mouth bacteria. So, if you don't want your potential dance partner to pass out when you breathe "Hello" at them, here are a few tips:

- brush & floss your teeth regularly
- avoid foods that are heavy with garlic or onions for several hours before dancing
- refrain from smoking before dancing
- Buy some of those Wisp disposable toothbrushes and keep them with you in your purse of dance bag
- Gum or mints can help in a pinch, but they only mask the issue, they don't solve it.

*a note on alcohol - many ballroom dancers prefer to refrain from drinking when they are dancing as it can inhibit their physical stamina and mental clarity. Although a social drink at a dance is perfectly acceptable, just remember that moderation is key and no one wants to dance with the guy who smells like he took a bath in whiskey and is too drunk to stand up on his own. Again, moderation is key!

2) Next up, Body Odor. No one likes to talk about Body Odor, but here's the scoop. Make sure you don't smell. I'm not talking about overdosing on Axe body spray either.

- shower regularly
- use a deodorant that is strong enough (some people may need a prescription strength)
- if you are a heavy sweater, wear an undershirt, and bring a change of clothing to the dance
- don't douse yourself in cologne/perfume, that can be just as bad as B.O.
- don't forget about your feet/ dance shoes - use deodorizing pads/sprays if need be
- as mentioned above, refrain from garlic and onions for at least 12 hours before the big dance. (Did you know the smells from these foods can come through your pores for hours after you've eaten?)

Overall, when it comes to smell, keep in mind that how you smell DOES matter! You might be the best ballroom dancer in the place, but if your breath reeks of garlic and cigarette smoke, you smell bad, and you have sweated through your clothing, your first dance with Ms. or Mr. Dreamy might very well be your last!

Dance is a social activity and requires that you take into account how you are perceived by your potential dance partners. It may not be easy to hear, or to admit that any of this applies to you, but take this advice seriously and watch your dance card fill up!

Next time: "Say what?" How you talk can make or break you as a dance partner.

Interested in learning to dance? Check out your local Arthur Murray dance studio for more information!

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