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!