I was given this book as a present and think it is a very good book for students who are starting to learn dancing and also a great book of reference for advanced dancers.
This book can be used just for learning the steps of the ballroom dances, if this is the student’s intention or as a guide to dancing as it goes beyond just teaching the steps. It covers basics like balance, posture, poise, dance hold, different positions ( CBMP, CBM) by clearly defining their meaning and clarifying them even more with lots of illustrations.
Each ballroom dance has its own chapter, English and Viennese waltz share a chapter. Each of these chapters covers beginner's and improver's steps. The beginner's figures are discussed in minute detail, and what makes this book so valuable for me is that they are also demonstrated in photographs. For me visualising and copying them becomes much easier than following diagrams of feet or just long explanations.
The improver's steps are explained in detail as well, including timing, rise and fall, alignment, footwork. To make each chapter complete there are a few music suggestions at the end.
Having discussed the essentials of dancing Janet and Malcolm also go beyond the basics and explain terms like transferring of weight, poise in hold, preparation step, the centre in dance, sway, swing and some more dance related details. They do this in a detailed and precise way that makes some of these rather abstract terms understandable.
The book also offers exercises to train the muscular support needed in dancing. It even features anatomical illustrations and includes the names of the major muscles involved in dancing.
Mastering and remembering steps are just part of what makes a good dancer. This book though clearly explains basic and advanced steps and clarifies beginners’s steps further with lots of photographs. It is all these other things like posture, poise, balance, technique that make the steps and routines look great and help define a dancer as a good dancer. This book defines all these things in an understandable way and successfully and thus goes beyond just teaching one or the other dance, but teaches dancing.
My husband and I have been dancing for a few years now and are preparing for our gold medals. We both use this book for reference. I really wish it had been available when we started dancing.