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Plaza Column - View article
Written by : Max M Ali MD
Date : 06-10-2004
Title : ISTD Test-Latin Part 1, 'General'
Article: Dancing Tid-bits Issue #186, Thursday, June 10, 2004.

Today's Topic: ISTD Test-Latin Part 1, 'General'

Yes, you can take both tests i.e. Ballroom and Latin on the same day. It depends on how your examiner wants to do it. You will of course arrange it well in time.

So, now after and exhausting 8 hours Ballroom test for 2 people came my turn for the Latin. This can be a grueling day for both you and the examiner. This could be a blessing or a curse. If you are really sailing thru, I think it is a blessing and it doesn't take him/her long to decide whether you deserve your ticket or not. However if you are not well prepared, be prepared for a rough ride.

Latin syllabus poses more questions that it answers. Several years ago in 1995 when I took the test the ISTD was revising its syllabus. So, when I called Mr. Billet to schedule my test he was kind enough to warn me that the syllabus was under review and if I waited for a month or so, I may be in an advantageous situation. If you recall the old "red book" that covered all 5 dances had silver level steps included as bronze level. Bronze refers to Associate and Silver to Licentiate (old membership) when it comes to teacher certification. I was impatient and I said I will take the test now and indeed he tested me on many advanced steps such as LaPasse in Paso and Spiral in Rumba etc. Luckily I was ready.

So, my friends if you are contemplating to take ISTD test at what ever level make sure you have a clear understanding what is expected of you. I don't mean to give you an authoritative answer and I am speaking as an "examinee" rather than ISTD examiner or their representative in any form.

As you know we have now 5 ISTD books, one on each latin dances. I believe these books list the appropriate steps for each dance and these levels are categorized as, Student, Associate, Licentiate (used to be Member) and Fellow. If you study carefully there is a lot of shuffling and many advanced steps are moved to Associate level. For example:

Paso Doble: Ecart, Promenades,Grand Circle and Open Telemark used to be higher level but now are listed as Associate or even Student level (Ecart).

Samba: This a whole different ball game. Not only the step list but the Bounce Action interpretation. Voltas, Rocks, Shadow Voltas and Criss Cross are Associate Level. What really throws me off is the Bounce Action description and I have written a Tid-bit on this #7 and #37. Using the Basic Bounce in Man's Basic 123, I have a hard time teaching students to close RF to LF without weight on "a" even though I know what it means. It gives more time on 1 and that "sticky" feeling. I have a hard time explaining or understanding if "a" is part of 1st beat or the 2nd beat in this interpretation.

Summary: I can go on and on but basically what I am saying is; it would be better for you to check from your examiner well in advance on the Syllabus and other Miscellaneous information such as errata in the new books. England ISTD and US-ISTD both have excellent websites and are updated frequently. They are an excellent source and a guide for these examinations and provide detailed information on text books and audio-visual aids.

So much for today, will continue later every other week. Best wishes, Max