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Plaza Column - View article
Written by : Max M Ali MD
Date : 03-25-2004
Title : The ISTD Test: Part I
Article: Dancing Tid-bits Issue #174, Thursday, March 18, 2004.

Today's Topic: The ISTD Test: Part I

So, You want to be a teacher?...and let us assume you have done all your preparation (read previous Tid-bits on the subject) and now you have arrived at "his/her" Studio for the day of judgment. First I must say that I am passing on to you the personal experience of taking such a test and not that this is the official word by ISTD. There are variations but this is a true recollection of the events, take it or leave it.

1. The introductions and some general conversation to get things rolling. Me and my friend Dorian (man) decided to do it together. Our common partner Jane French is a fine accommodating lady dancer. We were all dressed dapper with pullovers and ties but in retrospect, should have put a jacket on.

2. This was going to be a grueling day. Two tests (Ballroom and Latin) for me and one (Ballroom only) for my friend Dorian. 12 hours is a long day.

3. Mr. Peter Billet in Rochester, New York is a fine gentleman. He made very effort to make us feel comfortable and told us that his intention is not to penalize us for any mistakes but he wants to make sure that we are capable enough to teach basics to our students in accordance with ISTD requirements.

3. Dance Demonstrations: This was the first order of business. The ballroom was quite small. So please, when you consider choreography keep that in mind. I suggest that you not have a definite 'Routine'. During your preparation period, dance freely with different partners under different conditions with different size floors and as the need arises you should be able to adjust your alignment, feet positions etc. randomly. Stop and Go will be detrimental if not fatal.

4. It was a disaster?..We were all hyped up with intricacies of slowfox, waltz, tango and you name it. He wanted to know what shall I teach a newcomer on first lesson. To put it briefly he wasn't interested in all this fancy stuff. Rhythm Dancing! was the topic. Lucky for me, I had some Arthur Murray training on American Foxtrot and it all came back, SSQQ and SQQ with a little swingy feeling and I had fun doing it with Jane. This took about 1/2 hour. The point is that the examiner wants to know what kind of a teacher you are going to be. Don't start the dance jargon with a beginner. keep it simple and stupid. You have heard it before, havnt' you!

5. Music Interpretation: Nothing complicated. We are talking introductory lesson to a beginner. There is no need for 123. Just the down beat and things like boom andbip. So Waltz is Boom, Bip, Bip, and so it goes. Even though I feel 123 and 1234 is not that difficult to interpret but this was no time for my views, so I said "Yes Sir" and that was it.

By the way, we were examined separately in isolation with each other and had no contact with other till the end of a long-long day.

We have just started, the real stuff is coming. In next few weeks I will share the tests on other dances, very interesting experience. This tidbit should be enough for today. With best wishes, Max.