A Long-Awaited Update


To be honest, I really didn’t want to update on something as trivial to me as school figures, but my readers deserve better.  What are school figures?  School figures are steps in a certain dance that one has to learn to test out.  “Testing out” means you rise up one rank, for example, I am a Bronze II dancer, but it took me many months before my teachers deemed me ready to test me out of Bronze I.  With a rise in rank, you gradually learn more complicated figures, and there may be new dances you can learn as well.

Do you have to test out?  Absolutely not.  Most social dancers I know do not want to test out too far.  This is why I mostly associate “testing out” with people who want to be competitive dancers.  I’ve also heard of “medal exams”, which sort of sound like the same thing.  Keep in mind that I go to Arthur Murray, a franchise studio.  Many people also go to independent studios, and I’m betting there are some differences between them and me.  Anyway, my general goal right now is to eventually become a high level (Silver and onward) competitive dancer.  That’s why I tested out of all ten dances available to me, but you can test out of however many you choose.  Since I’m a Bronze II in all ten dances, this means I can compete in that level at competitions with those dances.  My most recent Team Match blended all the Bronze students together.  So, I could’ve been dancing with people from all four levels of the Bronze rank.

Here’s some crucial info:

Bronze II (Two School Figures for Each Dance)

My dances:

  • ECS (East-Coast Swing)
  • Waltz
  • Tango
  • Foxtrot
  • Merengue
  • Mambo
  • Samba
  • Cha-Cha
  • Hustle (a.k.a Disco)
  • Rumba

By way of simple math, I have to memorize twenty school figures for the test.  During the test, an instructor watches me as I perform these steps by myself first.  Then, he/she observes my following skills as I dance with my partner.  There is a certain number of dances you can fail, but I’ve forgotten.  It’s been a fair amount of time since my Bronze II test.  This sounds extremely hard, but it that bad.  It just involves constant repetition.  Plus, to test out of Bronze I, I had to memorize thirty school figures!

There are also certain technical things instructors look for.  In Bronze II, one of the things emphasized in Cuban Motion.  I’m quite happy to say that I’ve improved significantly in that aspect.

So far, I’ve learned (not memorized!) the school figures for Rumba, Cha-cha, Samba, Mambo, Merengue, and Foxtrot.  Nick spent Wednesday teaching me Foxtrot.  Then, he went on tangent, but it was pretty important.  He started teaching me the basics of floorcraft.  As a follow, this is pretty important to know since you may get stuck with a lead that doesn’t know floorcraft.  And since I mostly social dance at this point, I really want to understand this.  There’s nothing more irritating then when a couple should have enough experience to know better, but runs into you anyway.  I particularly remember being whipped by a follow’s pony-tail as she was waltzing…  That’s what I’ve been working on the last couple of lessons, and I hope this continues until I test out.

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