THE BEGINNERS DANCE PROGRAMME plus notes

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Dances 1 - 7 are the A - B series for Absolute Beginners. This introduces most of the key basic ideas and steps of Linedance in the simplest possible way. A detailed explanation and analysis of the objectives and uses of these 7 dances can be found on the A-B SERIES notes page.

Dances 8 - 40 are a suggested group of further beginner dances intended to introduce all the important ideas, orientation, turns, sequences and steps. These include 40 count dances, kick ball changes, extra turns, monterey turns, switches, 3/4 turns etc.

Dances with syncopated steps and the three waltzes are evenly spread through the programme, and hence have their own carefully calculated progression within the main programme. Note that the first 10 dances do not use any syncopated steps, which has long been thought of as an essential approach.

NB - Other dances could obviously be substituted for the suggested ones, but care should ideally be taken not to introduce complications too early such as more difficult steps or turns.

The beginner who completes THE BEGINNERS DANCE PROGRAMME above or something extremely similar would be very well placed to start tackling more challenging dances.

     NOTES ON SOME OF THE DANCES 8 - 40

SAN ANTONE

by John & Jeanette Sandham
This excellent old "classic" dance takes the AB a step forward from the previous shorter dances. 28 counts and FOUR walls, clearly raising the difficulty level. Additionally more new steps are introduced - heel splits, kicks, Altogether good for the AB.

COWBOY STRUT

Cowboy Strut, another great "classic", eases the AB up another notch to 32 counts but with just TWO walls. Two new movements are introduced - Touch steps and turning jazz boxes. Two jazz boxes danced consecutively have been mastered in AB Whirl and it is now a very small further step to turn the jazz box. Without the previous practice of jazz boxes it would be far trickier.

SYMPHONY SHUFFLE

by Esther D'Arpino
Symphony Shuffle is another great classic dance. It is very important as it is the first dance in the programme with moving syncopated steps - just TWO FORWARD SHUFFLES. Forward shuffles are arguably the easiest of moving syncopated steps and Symphony Shuffle is the perfect introduction to them. It also introduces a pivot half turn which is only a small step up from the pivot quarter turns in AB Corner and AB Whirl. It is only 24 counts and two walls and all the other steps have been previously danced which allows the AB to focus on the shuffles and pivot half turn.

Another key feature of Symphony Shuffle is that it is a perfect dance for "contra" lines. Obviously, it should be confidently mastered first, but once mastered it can easily be danced "in contra." It is perfect for contra as it is two wall and has very substantial forward movement.

COWBOY CHARLESTON

Another key "classic" dance - Cowboy Charleston always seems to be a clear favourite with ABs. It introduces the idea of the Charleston Step. It is best used for an introduction to two-step rhythm. It goes well with Mack The Knife, Elvis Medley, I Might and many two step tracks.

FLOBIE SLIDE

by Flo Cook
An excellent beginner dance - widely used. It introduces shimmies, which can be a lot of fun. The other movements will already be largely familiar to the AB, in particular the 1/4 pivot turns from AB Whirl.

LINDI SHUFFLE

by Jane Smee
An excellent and very important beginners dance. It is the second dance in the programme with moving syncopated steps. Two dances should have been taught after Symphony Shuffle, which should have allowed time for the dancers to acclimatise to the shuffles. It builds on the two forward shuffles taught in Symphony Shuffle and adds two chasses such that 50% of the dance is syncopated, which is a very substantial leap in terms of dancing syncopated steps. Being just two wall and sixteen counts, it is very easy, allowing the beginner to focus on the syncopated steps.

"1 2 3 " Waltz

by Val Myers
(Published in Linedancer - July 2003)

The second waltz in the series. It is a particularly easy four wall waltz with just one quarter turn. It allows the beginner a further chance to dance to 3/4 time but with a dance that is a clear step up from AB Waltz, without any particular complications. It introduces "holds". As stated earlier re AB Waltz, many but certainly not all dancers do have some difficulty with 3/4 time at first, especially if they have no previous experience of it, and need particularly easy waltzes initially to acclimatise to the timing.

CAJUN THANG

by Jo & Rita Thompson
Written by Jo and Rita Thompson - this is a wonderful Beginners dance. However, it is written with eight toe struts in the first two sections. This has sometimes been found to possibly cause a slight risk of muscle strain with beginners. Therefore, to minimise the risk it is probably best taught with FOUR HEEL struts forward, followed by FOUR TOE struts back - an extremely minor and simple modification for safety reasons. It goes particularly well to J'ai Du Boogie by Scooter Lee.

COUNTRY WALKIN'

by Teree Desarro
Invariably an absolute favourite beginner dance, especially when danced to the brilliant "I'll Tell Me Ma" By Sham Rock. This is the second dance in the programme using Irish music. It is the third dance in the programme with moving syncopated steps, and again two dances should have been taught since Lindi Shuffle, the previous dance with syncopated steps. Again, this should have allowed dancers to acclimatise even more to moving syncopated steps. In particular, it is the ideal dance to introduce Coaster Steps. The coaster step could, if necessary, be danced as a simple triple step - making the dance even easier for some - but generally at this stage dancers will cope with the coaster step quite easily. The syncopated heel swivels are great fun, but for dancers struggling with them, simple bounces could be used - i.e. counts 27 - 32 could be "bounce & bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce and bounce." To create an exciting atmosphere for the dance it pays to get the class clapping during the introduction!

FLYIN' SPARX

by Mary Kelly
Another dance that beginners tend to really love and which is generally quite easy for them at this stage. It introduces the rumba box (to be precise - a reverse rumba box) and rocking chair. It is a particularly versatile dance. It goes a treat to the original track "Church on Cumberland Road" by Shenandoah on Awesome 5 and has a great rocky feel to it. It also goes really well to the much slower track "The River" by Keith Urban on Awesome 7 but has a totally different feel to it. It is also superb to "Setting the woods on fire" by The Tractors but this is much faster and would be too fast for most beginners initially - until they are fully used to the dance

WOMAN TROUBLE

by Val Myers
(Published in Up Country - February 2006)

Woman Trouble is a very, very basic and easy two-step. It can be danced to a wide range of two-step tracks. It is basically a stepping stone between Cowboy Charleston and, for example, Ribbon of Highway or Country 2 Step, both of which are far more difficult dances than Cowboy Charleston. The rhythm is consistently slow, slow, quick, quick, slow with no variation, except for the two Charleston steps. Both Ribbon of Highway and Country 2 Step are really great dances but include rhythm changes, which tend to confuse early beginners. The dance also introduces lock steps which are unlikely to cause much difficulty.

STRAIT TALKIN'

by Lavinia and Mick Shann
This is a very pleasant and quite easy beginners dance, being just two walls, with the particular benefit of introducing Sailor Steps. It goes well to "Gonna Move Across The River" by Bill Pinkney on Fever 11. The sailor step could, if necessary, be danced as a simple triple step - making the dance even easier for some - but generally at this stage dancers will cope with the sailor step reasonably easily.

TWIST-EM

by Jo Thompson
This is the first dance in the programme with twists. It is a very easy and fun dance that will present no problems. The reason for leaving the dance to this stage is to minimise the risk in performing twists. It could be taught earlier in the programme but there would be little point as little would realistically be gained in learning terms. There are less twists than in Cowgirl Twist and they are danced in one block, which is why it is slightly preferable to Cowgirl Twist, being slightly less risky. If there are dancers that are not "twisting" for personal physical reasons, they can simply bounce for the first eight counts.

BLUE ROSE IS

This is another classic and is invariably a real favourite. It introduces vines with a half turn and is also the first dance in the programme with a scuff. Like Ski Bumpus it is 40 counts and one wall and is unlikely to present any particular learning problems. It is wonderful as a warm down dance and is often perfect to complete a session. Some dancers may like to hold hands while dancing it - some do - some don't! It goes a treat to the original track "Blue Rose Is" by Pam Tillis. There is a version of Blue Rose Is on Awesome 4 but the original track by Pam Tillis is outstanding and really well worth the effort to obtain.

STROLL ALONG CHA CHA

by John and Janette Sandham
This is another very important classic which introduces weaves. It is also the first dance in the programme with a formal triple step on the spot, which is very unlikely at this stage to cause any problems. The difficulty with Stroll Along Cha Cha is that the two turns are in opposite directions - first the 1/2 turn right, followed by the 1/4 turn left. This is on one level a good thing as it tends to reduce any dizziness problems. Nevertheless, some dancers will initially struggle with the turns and for that reason careful teaching at the outset is often necessary. It is a really versatile dance and goes well at various speeds. It is great to "Un Momenato Alla" on Fever 7, which is very slow, to "Easy Come Easy Go" by George Strait, which is faster and also to "Last Night" on Fever 14, which is fairly fast. In fact it goes well to many other tracks.

PRECIOUS TIME

by Pam Pike
Many would now consider this dance to be a classic. It is a truly excellent beginners dance which is always popular. It goes great to the original track "Precious Time" by Van Morrison. It is particularly useful for introducing beginners to Monterey turns. It only has one 1/4 monterey turn but generally that is appropriate and quite enough for most beginners. It is also versatile and will suit other tracks - for example Come Dance With Me by Nancy Hays - which can be used as a teaching track.

RITA'S WALTZ

by Jo Thompson
This is a truly delightful classic waltz. It is no coincidence that it is the third dance in the programme written by Jo Thompson, who apart from being one of the greatest Linedance choreographers, took the time to craft some superb beginners dances. Beginners invariably love this dance. It has the first 3/4 turn in the programme, which is very important but often creates orientation problems for some beginners. It is also the third waltz in the programme and due to the 3/4 turn is much trickier than AB Waltz or 123 Waltz. The three waltzes are evenly spread through the programme, being dances 4, 15 and 26, and hence have their own carefully calculated progression. If any dancers really do not want to do the 3/4 right turn they could, of course do a simple 1/4 left turn instead. It goes really well to a host of waltz tracks. Examples are Mexican Wind on Fever 3 and Queen of My Heart by Westlife.

HOG WILD

by Robert C. Weaver
This is an old dance. It is an excellent, fairly easy beginners dance that introduces triple half turns, which are very important. It is 32 counts, 4 walls and has 3 turns. One feature that makes it easy for beginners is that the rhythm is 1,2,3&4 throughout and that means it will fit many tracks. Examples are Vertical Expression on Fever 10, Hog Wild on Fever 1 or I Just Wanna Dance With You by George Strait. In fact it has the most syncopated steps in the programme along with Lindi Shuffle.

URBAN LIVING

by Val Myers
(Published in Linedancer - October 2005)

This dance was specifically written in order to teach a single 1/2 monterey turn. It is a very easy dance - 32 counts and just two walls. The dancers will be proficient with the 1/4 monterey turn in Precious Time and will be ready for the single 1/2 monterey turn. It goes really well to all 3 suggested tracks and many other tracks as well but it does go particularly well to Live To Love Another Day by Keith Urban.

SIMPLY ROCK

by Val Myers
(Published in Linedancer - February 2003)

Simply Rock introduces scissor steps which may present some difficulties for some dancers and may need careful teaching. It also includes forward and back Mambo steps but as side mambos will be familiar from Cajun Thang these are very unlikely to be any problem. It goes well to the original track Rock This Planet by Billy Ray Cyrus, On A Mission by The Grants on Fever 11 and Mariana Mambo By Chayanne.

DANCES NOT INCLUDED

Various well known and classic dances have not been included in the BEGINNERS DANCE PROGRAMME. This is intentional and follows substantial consideration and research. The reasons for the omission of some dances are as follows (others are omitted for similar reasons):

ELECTRIC SLIDE - a great beginners dance - no question - but definitely not as easy as The Freeze which, at number 6 in the programme, is far more easily learned at that stage and is therefore more practical, particularly bearing in mind that the aim is to teach people how to linedance and not linedances. Electric Slide can easily and very quickly be taught later, after THE BEGINNERS DANCE PROGRAMME is completed.

COWGIRL TWIST - another superb beginners dance but there are a great deal of twists - more than in Twist-em and they are spread throughout the dance - so they are more difficult to substitute. Many beginners start linedancing "to get fit", and may well be the last candidates for large numbers of twists. In Twist-em - any dancer not wanting to twist can very easily gently bounce for 8 counts instead. So Twist-em is preferred to Cowgirl Twist. Finally, Cowgirl Twist doesn't have any other particular feature to help beginners progress. Of course Cowgirl Twist can be taught very quickly after THE BEGINNERS DANCE PROGRAME is completed.

TEXAS STOMP - another very neat dance but there are two problems. There are 7 stomps - which does seem unnecessary and is not really ideal for health. They could be taught as touches but that is 7 counts altered. More importantly the turn on count 32 is fairly vicious, potentially risky for a beginner and is simply best avoided, as there are plenty of reasonable alternatives.

FUZZY DUCK SLIDE - Unfortunately, there is some confusion with Fuzzy Duck Slide. It is a very old "classic" dance and some old stepsheets show the turn is to the left. Others however (eg Teach Yourself Line Dancing 1998) show the turn is to the RIGHT and this is the direction that is now widely and very largely used. Very sadly, Fuzzy Duck Slide has now had to be removed from the programme as it has caused some confusion which is ultimately not acceptable. It remains a very good AB dance for those choosing to use it but cannot really continue to be an integral part of the programme.