Why You Should Learn Tango

Why You Should Learn Tango

 

  1. Stand Out — Distinctive music, combined with special footwork, makes any dancer stand out on the floor. Staccato footwork along with fluid body movements makes for a powerful dance, and a powerful, confident statement on the dance floor. Even if you are not looking to be noticed, everyone can appreciate good posture.
  2. Musicality — Learning Tango can help you learn about musical phrasing. Have you ever watched a Tango and wondered how they appear to be hitting the accents in the music without knowing the song? Tango trains the ear to understand how music works so you can effortlessly start matching the moves to the music. It will look spontaneous.
  3. Leader’s Role — The Tango is the leader’s dance — leaders develop their leading through their whole body. The dance is structured around a strong, confident lead, so leaders learn exactly how to emulate that.
  4. Follower’s Role — The follower takes on a very responsive position. They learn how to prepare themselves for the leader’s movement while maintaining the iconic Tango leg lines.
  5. Footwork — Tango is all about the fancy footwork! Swivels, fans, gauchos, cortes, Tango really has it all. It is the ultimate way to add drama to your dancing. Pro tip: Variety is the spice of life! Once you understand how they work, try them out in other dances, such as Rumba, Waltz, or Salsa!
  6. Connection — You’ll get to hold her close. Tango has a more compact hold, so that means romance, sexiness, and closeness. You won’t be stepping on any toes, since you will be solidly connected through your frame.
  7. Promenade — Tango will teach you a lot about promenades. (They’re not just about holding the rose in your mouth!) Promenades effectively teach you how to move from open to closed position, and back again.
  8. Again — DRAMA! Tango is not just about the big movements, but also about the subtlety of small movements. It is knowing when to do something grand, or when to keep it intimate with your partner.

Why You Should Learn Cha Cha

Why You Should Learn Cha Cha

 

  1. Fun — Cha Cha is all about FUN! It is one of the most popular Latin rhythms anywhere you go. Weddings, clubs, cruises, your friends’ backyards — you’ll find it everywhere.
  2. Manage A Crowded Floor — It will teach you how to move fast on small dance floors, which, as you can imagine, is a very useful skill to have in your dance repertoire.
  3. Rhythm — You learn new syncopated rhythm, characteristic of the dance. “Cha Cha Cha” corresponds to the three fast sounds (often a cowbell) that you can’t resist moving to.
  4. Shine — You’ll learn how to let yourself shine! Shine refers to moments in the dancing where the leader, without touching their partner, calls to them with a showy movement and responds in like manner. This lets you really show off your personality. Cha Cha is stellar at building confidence, coordination, and self-expression on the dance floor. It isn’t about following or leading your partner, but leading with your body and eyes. Followers will learn to become aware of all cues their partner gives them.
  5. Control — Cha Cha is great for helping you work on your turns. You will develop control. You’ll learn how to move on the ball of your foot with accuracy and speed. No more losing balance after spins!
  6. Variety — It will teach you how to keep the lady interested! Cha Cha is all about combining patterns in interesting, new ways. Pro tip: Learn the Cross Body Lead and put it everywhere!
  7. Swirls — Here’s another great reason to learn the Cha Cha — swivels! They’re fun, they’re sexy, and they’re a fantastic way of showing off your legs and hips. Not to mention a calf workout.
  8. Cuban Motion — And on the subject of showing off your body, Cha Cha is all about that Cuban motion. You’ll learn how to move your hips properly, which is vital for any dancer to add to their dance vocabulary.

Why You Should Learn Waltz

Why You Should Learn Waltz

 

  1. Classic — It is the most classical of dances. Chances are, when you think of Ballroom dancing, you think of the formal balls of period pieces or Disney films. It remains one of the most recognizable, and influential, dances. 
  2. Balance & Control — It helps you develop both balance and control. Waltz helps strengthen both your ankle and leg muscles, leading you to become a better dancer all around.
  3. Floor Craft — You will learn how to properly navigate a floor. You’ll learn how to use turning figures both left and right, as well as how to arrest momentum. No one likes to purposefully crash into a couple on the dance floor.
  4. Posture — Waltz will help you improve your posture, or maintain a good posture. You’ll develop relaxed shoulders, and flowing, easy movements, which lead to a super confident, graceful look.
  5. Synchronized Movement — It helps you learn about proper weight change, too. Waltz allows the leader to always move on the correct foot, so they always sync up with their follower. It teaches both dancers how to change their weight together.
  6. Rise & Fall — Learning how to Waltz will, as funny as it sounds, teach you how to make it look like a Waltz. This includes the characteristic rise and fall action, which is vital, and will go miles in helping you to look like the elegant dancer you’re aiming for. Fun fact: Watch Waltz from a high vantage point some day — it’ll look like the floor is going up and down.
  7. Romance — As touched upon above, Waltz is the epitome of graceful, flowing dance, so in learning it, you’ll be all about the romance of the dance! It lends itself easily to that fairytale-esque (yes, even Disney!) feeling.
  8. Expression — Waltz creates a completely different emotional feel on the dance floor. Sometimes you will feel the sorrow of a love lost, or the enraptured joy of basking in the sun. You’ll learn how to express yourself through movements, and it can help get you out of that comfort zone to expand your horizons.

An Interview With: Kennedy!

What is your favorite part of the Arthur Murray day?
 
“I really enjoy our dinner time together. Laughing at random videos we come across, telling jokes, and talking about our lives makes it fun!”

What do you do for fun when not at Arthur Murray?

“I enjoy exploring new places/restaurants. Watching TV shows, relaxing at home, and doing whatever Colleen wants, of course. I’m also guilty of being sucked into the Fortnite craze.”

 

How did you start dancing?

“As a kid, I would step on my mom’s feet as we danced in the kitchen, and there was always music and dancing at family parties, so I grew up with a lot of dancing.”

 

How did you find Arthur Murray?

“After knowing how to do the Latin dances from family parties and hip hop/break dancing in middle school and high school, I wanted to expand my knowledge of dancing to impress the ladies. So I came across Arthur Murray, and scheduled my first complimentary dance lesson. And the rest is history.”

 

What’s your favorite dance?

“This is such a tough question. It depends on my mood, but if I had to pick, I would lean towards the Rhythm dances.”

 

Funniest dance moment?

“I almost got killed for this, but I started dancing a Mambo at a competition backwards, and I didn’t realize it until halfway through the dance. I got plenty of dirty looks from Colleen for it once we came off the floor.”

 

What’s your dance dream?

“To become a Franchisee.”

 

How do you maintain your inspiration for dancing and teaching?

“I always try to maintain a vivid picture of what I want to accomplish in the long run, and that usually puts me back on track if I veer off. I also like to read or watch interview videos of “successful” people for extra motivation.”

Dance Is Their Love Language

For Week 2 of our International Spring Festival, Romance is in the air! To celebrate, we interviewed three of our student couples about how dancing has changed their relationships.

How did you meet your significant other? 

Louie & Odette said: “We were classmates in Chemistry 3 class in College; Louie was in Pre-med; Odette was in Pre-nursing.”

Matt & Caitlin said: “Caitlin and I met in our second year of college. We were both pledging a community service fraternity, a process which encouraged us to become, at a minimum, friendly with everyone else joining that semester. I learned that Caitlin lived directly below me in the dorms, and she mentioned that we played our music loudly. Despite the consistent, reverberating bass line through her room, we started to hang out frequently and became fast friends. It was not until a few months later, though, that we started dating.” 

Tom & Abby said: “We met at  New Years Eve party in Hoboken.”

What’s your favorite part of your Arthur Murray date night? 

Louie & Odette said: “We always look forward to that day in the week when we have our private lesson. It gave us that “break” from all the stress from our work because we were doing something we both enjoy. Dancing has always made it feel young at heart. It helped us keep our sanity in this crazy, hectic world.”

Matt & Caitlin said: “Our favorite part of dancing is that we get to spend one-on-one time together, challenging ourselves while having a good time. It is different than most other activities as it requires us to constantly listen to the other person, feel how they are moving, and respond to their actions. Initially, there were times we could argue about who made what mistake, but I am amazed at how we have grown closer and more communicative through the process and we really enjoy the experience.”

Tom & Abby said: “The best part is we get time away from our kids.”

How long have you been dancing? 

Louie & Odette said: “We signed up for dance lessons at Arthur Murray in December of 2001. Nuria has been our instructor since day one.”

Matt & Caitlin said: “We initially joined Arthur Murray, at my parents’ suggestion, to learn how to dance for our wedding. Then after the honeymoon, we enrolled in an actual program. This month is officially one year at the studio.”

Tom & Abby said: “Dancing two years now.”

Share a story about dancing together outside the Arthur Murray studio. 

Louie & Odette said: “We have been requested numerous times through the years to perform in birthday parties/celebrations of our family members and class reunions (both high school and college). We have performed at reunions/events in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and most recently during Louie’s 40th Med class reunion in Manila, Philippines.”

Matt & Caitlin said: “We have not yet danced together, aside from our wedding, outside the studio, but that is going to change this summer. We tend to have a much more active night life in the summer, unlike in the winter when we prefer to be at home under the warm blankets, watching a movie or reading a book.”

Tom & Abby said: “We’ve gone to a wedding for a friend and our cousin where we got to dance!”

In what ways has dancing changed your date night or relationship? 

Louie & Odette said: “We have met life long friends through dancing, sharing happy memories of competitions, Freestyles, and other events. Dancing has made our life more colorful! We cannot imagine our life without it.”

Matt & Caitlin said: “Last year, we went out to a few nightclubs and mostly danced variations of the two-step. This year, we are definitely ready to use some of our new skills. And with two weddings as well, we are excited, for the first time really, to go out and dance.”

Tom & Abby said: “For the first time in our marriage, we actually have date nights! We attended grad and post-grad programs back to back, then wound up with three kids in quick succession. Prior to dancing at Arthur Murray, we hadn’t dated since 2008. Most weeks our lesson is the only time we have together.”

Why You Should Dance The Paso Doble!

Paso Doble might not be a dance you immediately think of when you think of Ballroom dance. You might not even be aware it is a Ballroom dance, or perhaps you only think of it as “that dramatic bullfighting one”. While that is not incorrect, you may not see the many reasons you should invest some time in learning about this dance.

Paso Doble translates to “double step” in Spanish. It is based heavily upon Spanish bullfighting, but the dance itself originates from France. The upper classes at the time were enamored with the romance and drama of bullfighting, and sought to emulate it as a partner dance.

The leader’s role is always that of the conquering matador. The follower’s role acts in response to the leader — sometimes she is the cape, the bull, a flower, or the woman he is performing for.

The dance is more structured than many other Ballroom dances. It is a performance, meant to evoke emotion and tell a story. Paso Doble hinges upon strong body posture and frame, for forceful, sharp movements and gestures. The steps are reminiscent of military parading.

By far, the most common song used for Paso Doble is “Espana Cani”. The music for this dance is very distinctive, and is specific to the Paso Doble. It is a genre all on its own.

Due to the design of the song and the story you and your partner are telling together, it has a more choreographed setup than most other dances. Though it can still be danced socially, both partners need to be aware of the highlights, or “crashes”. There are three distinct highlights in the song, so leaders need strong musical awareness to ensure they match the story to the song.

Not many dancers do the Paso Doble, so knowing it can make you unique. Because of its inherent choreography, it makes a fantastic show piece, and a strong dance to show judges at any events you attend. It is a great way to develop confidence and character on the dance floor, because who doesn’t want to stab their partner sometimes?

Dances of the Roarin’ Twenties

The 1920s were an era known for its dramatic attitude — wild, carefree, extravagant, and a party all night long. Prohibition couldn’t stop the speakeasies or debauchery, dance halls featured dance marathons lasting days (or weeks!), and the public didn’t want the party to stop. And what’s a party without dancing?

Many dances were popular in the 1920s. Some are still known and beloved today, whereas others have faded into history books. Dancing was the social activity, among all ages and all walks of life. Pre-war dances such as the Waltz and the Tango remained popular, and new dances came into the spotlight, boosted in popularity by Broadway shows and movies (and yes, even a man by the name of Arthur Murray).

The Foxtrot first became popular in the 1920s. Since it had gotten introduced barely prior the war, it wasn’t seen as old-fashioned. But there was a lot of confusion over what exactly the Foxtrot was — many types of music and dancing were marketed as Foxtrot, hoping to ride on its coattails, including a style called the One-Step that remained popular throughout the decade.

Out of this strange Foxtrot divide came a bouncier version, initially called the Toddle. The Toddle in turn became what is known now as the Peabody: even bouncier, and even more popular at dance halls and parties.

The Charleston was another dance craze of the 20s, popularized by the song “The Charleston” by James P. Johnson. It was first used in the Broadway musical Runnin’ Wild, and spread like wildfire to the dance halls across the country.

Dances come and go no matter the era. Some dance fads have real staying power, like Foxtrot and Peabody. Others, like the Turkey Trot, fade out after their time in the spotlight. Some dances evolve into other types, or perhaps some steps live on in other styles. Next time you’re watching Quickstep, look out for some Charleston flavor.

A Recap of Our Spring Freestyles 2018

Our 2018 Spring Freestyles was on March 2 and 3, and it was an absolutely amazing time! It was our second year as a two-day event. It was also the first year that Arthur Murray Paoli and Narberth could join us, making for a total of six schools attending, our biggest yet. Curious exactly what a Freestyles event is? Check out our blog post explaining here!

In line with the Kings & Queens theme, our Guest Judges were the illustrious Bob and Cynthia Long, of Arthur Murray Albuquerque, the creators of the current Arthur Murray syllabus. Despite having judges, Freestyles is not a competition, and is instead focused on giving feedback to the students — as well as being a celebration of their dancing. It is a great learning opportunity, both offering an outside perspective as well as valuable floor time.

“If the studio is the practice field, then Freestyles is game day,” says student Jerry Cerulli of the event. Jerry has been dancing with the Cranford studio for over 5 years, and has been dancing in our Freestyles events since his first year with us.

We also had a full Juniors Division on Saturday for the first time. With nine students in the Children’s Programs for both Cranford and Hillsborough, the kids had the opportunity to dance in heats with their instructors. For some of them, this was their first Freestyles events, but others have danced with us in prior Freestyles.

For some of our students, this was their first time dancing in a Freestyles event. “Fun — the first thing that comes to mind is ‘fun’! It was a lot of fun,” says student Diane Toma of her first time. Diane has been dancing with the Cranford team since last August.


The grand finale of the weekend is always our formal banquet, held on Saturday night. Unless you’re ready to dive right into the dancing portion of Freestyles, we always recommend joining us for the evening portion. It’s a great opportunity to cheer on your fellow students, enjoy dinner, watch professional shows, and let loose on the dance floor with your Arthur Murray family. It’s an excellent way to see what Freestyles can be about if you feel you are not ready for two full days of dancing just yet.

We hold this event twice a year, in the Spring and Fall, so your next opportunity to join us is in October. We can’t wait to see how many of you will join us then!

Do’s & Don’t’s Of Ballroom Dance Group Class

DON’T’S:

  • DON’T teach other students! Even if there is a difference in skill or experience level, only the instructors are qualified to teach group class. No matter how good your intentions are, it can quickly become a case of the blind leading the blind.
  • DON’T bring your bad attitude to group class. We understand that stressful days happen, and we understand that Arthur Murray is your happy place where you get rid of the stress. So do your best to let go of that bad day and let your mood improve with some good ol’ dance time.
  • DON’T slack off — don’t be a lazy leader or follower! Classes are relaxed atmospheres, but that is no excuse for slacking off. We want you and everyone in class to improve, not go through the motions.
  • DON’T be afraid to try something new. There are more dances out there than your teacher can get to in 45 minutes. You never know how Peabody will help your Foxtrot, or Polka your Swing.

DO’S:

  • DO listen to the teacher! It’s a group class, so it may seem obvious, but listening to the teacher should be the priority. Classes are fun spaces, but everyone is still there to learn.
  • DO be polite to your partners! Everyone here is part of your Arthur Murray family, and everyone deserves your respect. Smile, be kind, thank them for dancing with you, genuinely compliment them if you’d like — wouldn’t you like someone to do the same for you?
  • DO clap after every dance. It’s to show everyone that you had a good time! Dancing is a skill, a skill that everyone here is working to improve, and that deserves celebration.
  • DO remind your teacher you went to group class — and learned something new. We try to keep track of what classes you attend and the material covered, but sometimes we get distracted. Remind us you went to Salsa class and tried out that cool new step.
  • DO bow at the beginning and end of group class. Again, be respectful to your partners of the evening, and also to your teacher. You got to practice and improve your dancing, maybe you learned something new or figured out a step you’ve been struggling to master. You are thanking everyone for their time, just as they are thanking you for yours.

But What IS Freestyles?

Whether you’ve heard the term from an instructor or another student, or saw it on the calendar, or heard it in an event announcement, or have seen the poster in our studio — we like to talk about our events here, in case it weren’t obvious — you’ve probably heard the term “Freestyles” before. Of course, hearing about something is very different from knowing what it is, so you may still be wondering — what is Freestyles?

Think of Freestyles as a mini dance vacation, one or two days long. You get to spend as much time as possible dancing, as many dances as you can, giving you vital floor time. The more you dance, the faster you feel progress with your dancing. You dress up and feel glamorous, both on the dance floor and for the evening banquet. Other Arthur Murray schools attend, allowing you to catch up with (or meet!) your extended Arthur Murray family. It is a celebration of YOUR dancing and dance journey!

The dancing portion of the day is full of heats, which are basically “rounds” of dancing. One Waltz heat is one time you will be out on the floor with your partner or your teacher dancing Waltz. There will be other students and staff on the floor as well, dancing the same dance, so you won’t be alone. Those on the sidelines will be cheering and watching.

The event begins with Country Western style dancing. This is a great way to warm up and let loose on the dance floor. Next, we take off the boots and hats for long dresses and suits for the Smooth dancing (Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz). No matter your level, it is always fun watching how your Foxtrot will progress through the levels. After lunch, the skirts get shorter and the ties come off for the Rhythm and Specialty dances. The energy in the ballroom works itself into a frenzy at the hip sway to the music.

That evening (Saturday evening for our two-day Spring Freestyles), we host a formal banquet, with a fun theme to match. There are professional shows performed by the staffs of the various schools attending, so everyone gets the chance to see their instructors perform as they would at professional competitions.

After the event ends, we compile all of the feedback from the guest judges to give back to each student. “But it’s not a competition!” you repeat, puzzled, and that’s still correct! You are never scored against other students. You are given feedback, which is for noncompetitive events — it is a standard of expectations for your level. (Scores, by contrast, are given for competitive events.) It will be an outside perspective, however quick, on your dancing and where you are in your dance journey. It is by no means a perfect glimpse into your skill (there are a lot of others on the dance floor in every heat, after all), but all together, it can be a very good idea of how well you are dancing for your level.