You Can Learn To Keep Time!
People sometimes like to brag about their deficiencies. They will say, proudly: “I have terrible handwriting” …or… “I have no memory—I can never think of a person’s name.” In the studio, we often hear this said: “But, I can’t carry a tune on a bet!”
The ability to carry a tune is not a necessary factor in learning to dance. To dance, you must simply be able to keep time to the music. And if you can march to band music—you can keep time to dance music.
The unfortunate belief that they have “no sense of rhythm” keeps many people from enjoying the pleasures of dancing. Yet, every normal person is born with a sense of rhythm. In some cases, it may need developing but it’s there. Forget about the idea that you must have a knowledge of music—nine out of ten good dancers don’t know one note from another, yet they can keep time.
If You Can’t Carry a Tune
Remember this: dancers do not keep time to the melody or the tune of a song. The high and low notes have nothing to do with it. The count in dancing is determined by the beat or tempo of the music.
So, if you can’t sing, hum, or whistle a simple tune like “Yankee Doodle”, don’t despair. It won’t keep you from becoming a good dancer, although it should keep you from singing in your partner’s ear!
Here are two simple ways to train yourself to keep time:
- Beat time with your foot.
Sit next to your radio and listen to any dance music. Imagine that you are the drummer and simply beat time with your foot on the floor as though you were hitting the pedal of the bass drum. Tap your hand on the chair arm at the same time. Keep tapping to different types of music until it becomes automatic to follow the drum beat.
- Walk in time to Foxtrot music.
After you have learned to beat time, walk around the room, dancing one step to each beat. Do this in private, so that you will not feel self-conscious. Try talking to several different songs. In a surprisingly short while, your feet will “carry the tune” easily.
And that’s all there is to keeping time in music!
Why Girls Too Must Know The Steps
Whenever I hear a woman say: “All I need is a good leader”… I know that she is probably a poor dancer and that partners steer clear of her.
“Leading” must be a misleading word—so many girls confuse it with “dragging”! The leader is merely the one who chooses the steps and guides his partner into them. But, unless his partner is alert and ready to dance with him, she becomes a tag-along, an extra weight to be carried around.
A girl cannot dance with her partner until she knows what she is doing. She can test her own knowledge by trying to dance alone to music or by leading a girl partner. If she feels helpless by herself, she can tell immediately that she does not know her own part. It will be safer for her to refuse invitations until she has learned what she needs to make her popular and fun to have as a partner.
Once a girl becomes interested in the steps themselves, she will enjoy learning. She will begin to notice dancing technique on the stage, the screen, and among her friends. Only a good dancer knows the thrill of accomplishment… poor dancers don’t know what they are missing. The more steps a girl knows, the more spontaneity she will show in her dancing.
A girl who is not animated strikes a negative response. Partners do not return willingly to her and social evenings are a gamble… will she be popular or not? It is a pity for a girl to take a chance when a little effort can make her confident and sure. A girl who can do the steps alone will never be left alone at a dance.
Secrets That Will Help a Girl Become a Good Dancer
- Convince yourself that the way to be light is to first strengthen the muscles you use in dancing. Watch an athlete walk across a floor… then watch someone who sits at a desk all day and whose muscles are slack. Which person walks lightly?
- Prove to yourself that a girl must know the basic steps. Which of your girl friends are better dances… those who know steps and can lead them or those who “don’t know one step from another”?
- Study this fact… a girl can follow only the steps that are familiar to her. Learn a VARIETY of steps so your partners won’t be held back by you. Variety will put spice in your dancing!
- Always remember: If you can dance well alone, you can then dance more easily and successfully with a partner. Practice in private—to be popular in public!
- Remember… a man is used to stepping forward—a girl must step backward most of the time!
- Stepping backward is not a natural motion—it must be practiced. But, once a girl can step back properly, her feet will never be in her partner’s way. Besides, a girl cannot look graceful until she does master a long, free back step.
- A girl always starts with her right foot. Be ready! Practice your back walk alone, starting with your right foot and reaching far back with your toes.
- Take extremely long steps during your practice work. Stretch from your ankle with every step you take. Exaggerate when you are alone—then a normally long step will become second nature to you.
- Don’t believe for a minute that you can “get by” by simply following a partner. Thousands of girls make this mistake—but none of the popular girls do. Decide now to spend a little time an effort to become the kind of dancer you’d like to be. You can do it—make up your mind to try!
- Remember: Confidence comes only with knowledge. Your partner, too, will have confidence in you if you are sure of yourself.
How To Walk Correctly In Dancing
There is never any reason to fear that you and your partner may falter or stumble at the beginning of a dance. Simply remember that a man always starts with his left foot… the girl, facing him, starts with her right foot.
Most men start each dance by walking forward, left foot first. So girls can be prepared and ready to walk backward, right foot first.
When You Dance:
- Lift your feet slightly off the floor in all walking steps. Never let them scrape or drag on the floor.
- When you walk backward, never let your heels touch the floor at all. When you walk forward, your heels may touch—but only after your toes have touched the floor first.
- While you are learning, practice by walking only on the ball of the foot. You must emphasize this at the start… then, when you become proficient, your natural walking steps will be graceful, light, and comfortable.
- Emphasize and exaggerate only during your practice. When dancing with a partner, walk naturally without conscious strain or effort.
- To give spring to your walking steps, practice rising up and down on your toes while taking long, slow walking steps around the room.
Stop and think a moment—do you know anyone who is a good dancer who is not outstandingly popular? I doubt that you do. And that is the main reason why people want to be good dancers. There is nothing so thrilling in life as to be popular with friends and sought after as a companion.
It’s Fun To Dance!
It’s easy to understand why good dancers are in demand. Just watch any crowd on a ballroom floor. Those who can dance well look happy—they seem in tune with the gaiety and music. Not only are they enjoying themselves, but their partners are having a fine time, too. People like to dance—they are born with a deep and inherent love of moving to rhythm.
There’s nothing new about dancing—it is as old as mankind. Dancing used to have a serious side back in the dark ages. Primitive man had a different dance for every phase of emotion… his religion, superstition, grief, hate, happiness, and love. Dancing has lived in every age, every class of life. High school students are always amused when they study the life of Socrates, the ancient philosopher—they can hardly believe their eyes when they read that he danced, too!
Physical Benefits of Dancing
We dance because it’s fun—that’s reason enough. But, dancing is also an easy, delightful form of exercise. Good dancers develop supple grace and superb muscle tone by using the muscles of the diaphragm, arms, shoulders, legs, and ankles. Dancing is closely related to rhythmic sports such as tennis, skating, and boxing.
Why Doctors Prescribe Dancing
Because dancing is so easy to learn and such a relaxing exercise, doctors prescribe it for many types of patients. A shy, awkward adolescent can become a graceful, well poised youth once he becomes confident of himself as a dancer. Middle-aged people who have slumped, given up, and “let themselves go” can gain a new, vigorous, youthful posture and personality through a re-awakened interest in dancing. Certain physical impairments can be improved and corrected by dancing… it is used toward attaining better posture; strengthening weak arches and developing strong, graceful legs.
Dancing Lasts a Lifetime!
Now and then I have heard pupils complain of the “routine” involved in learning. Basic fundamentals are necessary in the beginning—just as you must learn to hold a golf club or tennis racquet before you can play. But, once you have really learned to dance, it becomes something you will never forget. We often see white-haired couples doing a beautiful Waltz, just as proficiently as they did years ago. No matter how old a person is he can still move with youthful grace on the dance floor. Isn’t it worth the effort of mastering the fundamentals to gain a lifetime of pleasure?
Don’t Envy Others
I have never met any person who could not learn to become a fine dancer. You have the same natural ability that others have and good dancing is within your reach. Make up your mind today not to lose out on pleasure. Be a good dancer—have more fun out of life!
Regardless of how much dance knowledge or expertise someone has, almost everyone has heard of the Tango. The very name evokes an image of sensuality and passion no matter how much someone may know about it.
Unlike the two dances covered so far in the Arthur Murray Cranford blogs, the Foxtrot and the Cha Cha, the Tango can trace its roots back to the nineteenth century, and the dance originated much farther south on the globe. It sprung up in the last 1800s along the border of Argentina and Uruguay, evolved from several other dances, such as the Milonga and Waltz. It wasn’t until the twentieth century that the Tango spread to the rest of the world, however, although it soon created quite the craze in Europe and the United States by 1913.
Today, the Tango has many different, distinct forms in the professional dancing world. The two most popular and well-known are the American Tango (seen as the “normal” or default Tango in the States) and the Argentine Tango, both favorite choices taught here at the Arthur Murray Dance Center of Cranford.
The American style of Tango is characterized by strong, decisive movements and staccato footwork. It is the dance of passion incarnate. In contrast, the Argentine Tango is far slower with smoother, more sensual movements. If the American Tango is the fiery, feisty dance, then the Argentine Tango is the sexier one.
Either (or both!) of these styles of dance can add some romance and spice to any dance resume! We can teach anyone who’d like to learn these dances, so Walk In & Dance Out today! You can schedule your first complimentary lesson with us either online or by calling our Cranford studio.
About The Cha Cha Cha
The Cha Cha is one of the most popular dances in the United States and around the world, and likely the most popular of the social Latin dances. Its energetic, infectious rhythm makes it a playful sort of dance, one that encourages everyone to cut loose and hit the dance floor. It is one of the core dances here at the Arthur Murray Dance Center of Cranford.
Developed in Cuba in the late 1940s by a man named Enrique Jorrín, the Cha Cha actually began as a derivative of the Mambo and Rumba. Jorrín, a violinist and composer, had noticed that some crowds had difficulties with the irregular rhythm of the Triple Mambo (the Danzon-Mambo). So to try to help and appeal to more dancers, he began composing songs where the melody was marked strongly on the first downbeat and the rhythm was less syncopated. The new rhythm was nearly an immediate hit and was named for the cha-cha-cha sound the dancers’ feet would make during their triple-step.
In 1953, the orchestra Jorrín worked with released the first two Cha Chas to be recorded, “La Engañadora” and “Silver Star”. By 1955, the songs and new style had hit Mexico, the United States, and most of Europe, resulting in a Cha Cha craze that mirrored the Mambo fever that had swept the dancing world just a few years prior.
Today, there are two types of the Cha Cha taught by Arthur Murray Dance Studios around the world: the International style and the Rhythm style. The more common of the two is Rhythm style. It’s fast-paced and fun, but with an earthy feeling to it, and is very popular with dance students even today. Rhythm Cha Cha is characterized by bent knees, whereas International style features straight leg actions; the difference between the two in competitive levels is nearly imperceptible.
You too could learn this fun dance style and weigh in on the debate between the two! Sign up for your complimentary first lesson today with us here at Arthur Murray Dance Center of Cranford to learn the Cha Cha and many more dances.
The Foxtrot is unquestionably America’s favorite dance. Other dances come and go, but the Foxtrot grows ever more popular. The overwhelming majority of all songs written today are with the Foxtrot rhythm, and it is one of the core dances we teach here at the Arthur Murray Dance Center of Cranford.
Unlike most other dances, the Foxtrot is distinctly and entirely American, which may account for its permanent popularity in this country. It is a dance characterized by flowing movements and freedom of styling—the same kind of dynamic informality which characterizes the American way of life.
The name of the dance supposedly comes from a vaudeville performer named Harry Fox, who introduced it in 1913. During his act he used to select a variety of chorus girls and “trot” with them around the stage. The dance he did came to be known as the “Fox Trot”, nowadays one word: simply the Foxtrot.
The dance as we know it today is far different from the fast, simple trotting step that Mr. Fox introduced, but the name has persisted. As with the Lindy Hop, the origin of the name has been largely forgotten, but the dance remains the favorite of all dancers, young and old alike.
The origin of the Foxtrot itself goes back beyond Harry Fox to the introduction and growth in popularity of ragtime music. This distinctively American form of music, with its different and exciting rhythms, swept the country. With it arose new dances to express the rhythmic urges which sprang up wherever ragtime music was played. The Cake Walk, the Two Step, the Bunny Hug—these and many others were forerunners of the Foxtrot. With the introduction of the Foxtrot and its instantaneous rise to popularity, the other dances were forgotten and the Foxtrot became America’s favorite dance—a position it still holds today and the Arthur Murray Dance Center of Cranford teaches with pride. Feel free to schedule your first lesson with us and learn firsthand the appeal of the Foxtrot!
Tournament of Champions—you may have heard the term in the studio before, or perhaps on another Arthur Murray website. But what exactly is it?
The Tournament of Champions is a six-week competition between Arthur Murray studios all over the world to increase student participation, to enroll new students and guests, and to increase the number of enrolled lessons in our studio. Each studio wants to determine how many active students they have, and the tournament challenges each studio to see who has the most! Your teachers can also compete for specific awards in various categories.
But here at Arthur Murray Dance Center of Cranford, while we want to make this competition exciting for everyone, we only want our students to enroll on lessons and participate in events from which they would benefit. We don’t want numbers for the sake of numbers—we just want a lot of happy, active students in our Arthur Murray family.
This tournament promises to be a highlight of our year, and we can all look forward to six weeks of fun, excitement, and team spirit. We want everyone to get involved in their favorite way! Ask your dance teacher for more information on how to join us.
Here at Arthur Murray Cranford, we have a team of experts that can teach anyone, of any experience level, how to dance any sort of ballroom style. We can help prepare you for any event, including weddings, anniversaries, or even if you’d just like to learn a new skill for those fun nights out! We believe—and can prove—that anyone can Walk In and Dance Out. Get your free lesson today—click here!
This past June, the AMK team moved from Kenilworth to the new Cranford location, and celebrated its Grand Opening on the 24th of September. The mayor of Cranford, Andis Kalnins, came to cut the ribbon and mark the occasion.
Arthur Murray is a name with a lot of history attached to it. With roots tracing back to 1912, Arthur Murray International has since expanded across the globe with well over two hundred studios open in over twenty countries. The famous motto of Arthur Murray, ‘Walk In & Dance Out’, boasts of our confidence in being able to teach any student any ballroom style they’d like. The tried and true curriculum is exactly why, even today, that the Arthur Murray name is a household one when it comes to dance.
Arthur Murray Cranford also has a team with its own impressive legacy. Danila and Nuria Kartashov, the franchisees of this branch, have both been dancing all their lives. Born in Russia, Danila began dancing at the age of five, and has been dancing ever since. Nuria, originally from Spain and with a background in ballet, met Danila in 1999 and they began their partnership soon after. They have won competitions in several countries, including the Arthur Murray International Latin Championship and Manhattan Dancesport Championship. They’ve been finalists in many more. Danila and Nuria eventually married and joined the Arthur Murray team together in 2001, and became franchisees of the Kenilworth Arthur Murray location in January of 2010.
The rest of our team comes from just as varied backgrounds with equally diverse dance histories behind us, including ballet, modern, jazz, and all styles of ballroom dancing. We’ve created a rich learning environment that’s sure to find something to offer for everyone. The curriculum has any and all ballroom dance styles, allowing plenty of room to explore and experiment while learning anything a student would want; all of Arthur Murray’s lessons are tailored to exactly what a student would want to gain from them.
Arthur Murray Dance Center Cranford proudly presents “At the Movies” Summer Showcase 2015
On August 8th, 2015, Arthur Murray Dance Center Cranford is proud to invite everyone to our “At the Movies” Summer Showcase of 2015. Hosted at Kean University’s Kean Stage at the Wilkins Theatre, this theatre night is a fundraising event for Technology Against ALS, with tickets for $25. This event is open to the public, so everyone is encouraged to bring friends and family!
The show will feature Ballroom dances by students and staff of Arthur Murray Dance Center Cranford , including those of our sister centers, Montclair and Princeton. This is our second time holding this event, and our staff and students have been eagerly practicing for several months to bring you performances inspired by some of their favorite films and icons, with everything from The Pink Panther, to James Bond, to Dirty Dancing, and Marilyn Monroe. Anyone with a ticket may attend, regardless of whether or not they are students with Arthur Murray or Kean University, so please feel free to invite others to join us for this thrilling evening.
Kean Stage, Wilkins Theatre’s largest theatre, can house over 900 attendees, with free parking to attendees, as well as wheelchair accessibility and seating. Kean University proudly supports the arts and regularly hosts student productions, as well as allow other companies to utilize its facilities to bring its students as well as the public unforgettable performances.
Proceeds from the night will benefit Technology Against ALS, a charity dedicated to relieving some of the strain and hardships faced by those with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Because ALS affects the motor neurons in the brain and spine, people with the disease gradually lose motor functions, making even simple communications difficult or impossible. Technology Against ALS helps to combat this issue by specifically developing new technologies, such as communication devices for people to be able to continue to connect with and be understood by the world around them.
Arthur Murray Dance Center Cranford staff and students are very excited to share this night out “At The Movies” with everyone, so please come join us for a fantastic evening! You can purchase tickets online at the link below, or stop in at Arthur Murray Dance Center of Cranford to pick some up in-person. We hope to see you there, August 8th, at the Wilkins Theatre.