32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2006
This guide does give one good background information on ballroom dancing, and has many illustrations. The accompanying music CD is good (not great, but good).
My main complaint is that it can sometimes be a bit difficult to read, to follow. And there really should be a glossary of terms in the back, I had a difficult time finding what various acronyms meant.
It's not really a book you can open up to, say, the section on the foxtrot and just learn how to do the foxtrot without first reading the rest of the book. It's meant to be read from start to finish before you begin learning any particular dance.
94 of 110 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2005
I am not amused when reviewers without experience in a "How To" topic slash out at a fabulous book like "Complete Idiot's Guide to Ballroom Dancing" by Jeff Allen when they haven't taken the time to read and absorb its material.
There is a ridiculous review titled "Mediocore At Best" by a reviewer (generous categorization) named "Page Turner" as in someone who turns pages. This person can read a 300 plus page book in two days while comprehending all the nuances and idiosyncrasies of Ballroom & Latin dancing enough to say that, probably the best and most comprehensive book available on these subjects, is only mediocre.
If there is any book out there on the subject that accommodates a student taking dance lessons better than The Complete Idiot's Guide to Ballroom Dancing I' d like to own it. The truth is, there isn't - this book is the finest and most accurate for the American style of dancing on the market place. It covers the beginnings of 11 dances and has a wonderfully compiled music CD for each dance. There is great information for wedding couples and there families. The book has a terrific condensed history of Ballroom dancing as well as the structure and framing required for the beginner dancer. I thought it was a great idea to present to the beginner all the major things required of the individual to contribute to the couple to make the dance partnership work! The treatment and techniques of the dances themselves with plenty of photos showing the major positions of each dance figure come next. They are complied in three sections - Smooth; Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, and Viennese Waltz, then the Latin- Rumba (the foundational Latin dance), Merengue, Samba, Cha-cha, and then Mambo (substitute Salsa and for the beginner there is little difference!) then the Rhythm dances of East Coast Swing (presented in Allen's innovative style found in his book Quickstart to Swing) and lastly the Hustle great for the new and old Disco music.
People who take private lessons take weeks to accomplish even the simplest of tasks required to dance with someone else in your arms. This book will certainly make your practice easier as you increase your dancing IQ! Everything, I mean everything you are required to know to make your experience on the dance floor successful is contained between the pages of this book. This book will also fill in the blanks of the videos that are out there making even them much easier to comprehend.
41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2003
The delightful premise of this book is to knowledgeably enter the enjoyable scene of social dancing with its "social, psychological and physical improvement of lifestyle." This it does! Anyone entering social dancing, and those having entered and not become competitively focused, can do well to buy this cleverly written book.
Scattered throughout the text, Jeff very effectively uses logo-symboled information boxes to add interest and pointed tips. Eschewing the usual foot diagrams for patterns, text and pictures do the job. The excellent introductory diagram of Line of Dance and the 11 dance music CD is arguably worth the cost of the book.
Beginning with the history of the original "close" dancing position of partners, the author traces the evolvement of ballroom dancing in a very unique way - the impact exerted by national economies, mores and wars.
The ceremonial wedding dance is covered as the point of beginning for many people and it traces natural evolvement from that point. Reasons to dance for men, women and the shy are given through to the relationship and foreplay factors.
Physically and mentally meeting the challenges of ballroom dancing are listed, then music, timing, rhythm, movement and position.
"The Plain Truth about Practicing, Expectations, and Prioritization" is a section not usually covered in dance books, but should be; the discussion of "Creating a Dance Couple" is quite germane to those not locked in a high-level partnership.
The author approaches Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Rumba, Merengue, Samba, Cha-Cha, Mambo, East Coast Swing, and Hustle very practically with descriptive text and pictures that do the job of getting you in the dance.
Competitors, Silver level and above, will find the book's historical notes and the personal side of dancing a good read, all others can favorably and profitably use the book to help getting their heads and feet straight on the floor.
Conclusion: Buy it, for your personal improvement and attitude.
Review of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Ballroom Dancing
Published in Amateur Dancers; Issue #139 Sept/Oct 2002
By Robert Meyer, Editor
44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2002
This book is NOT for complete idiots. . . it is for those smart enough to recognize the absolutely best introduction on the market to ballroom dancing, Latin dancing and disco-hustle dancing. As the author of the dance book HUSTLE, which has become a standard for that dance, I can tell you THIS IS THE BOOK TO LEARN FROM! It comes with a FREE CD picked especially to match the right music with the right dance. The author gives you everything you need to get started and then to succeed. Jeff gives you the motivation by letting you know all the wonderful advantages of dancing. He gives you the basic information, with plenty of close-up photos to help. There are lots of useful tips that will be helpful to social dancers of all levels. The author writes explanations that are clear and complete. Many short boxed notes call the reader's attention to important points. Other boxed notes lighten the reading with interesting "dance trivia" and cartoons. Two chapters on the history of dancing have enough information to satisfy even the most curious. If your big day is soon and you need help to make sure your wedding dance comes out just right, Jeff has just what you need. Turn to Chapter 4--Dancing Through Your Big Day. Very useful extras include a glossary, a list of references, a list of dance related websites, and an extensive index. The book is very thorough and very readable.
Add to this the low price, and you get a bargain not to be passed up.
32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2003
Part I of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Ballroom Dancing begins at the "beginning" with a whirlwind trip through history and the history of ballroom dancing -very interesting reading!- and ends with a chapter entitled "What Makes Us Dance" , a fun and interesting socio-anthropological look at...well...what makes people dance! Definitely food for thought.
Part II of the book as well as Allen's "Quickstart Method," found in chapters 10 & 11 are really what's revolutionary about his approach. To analogize these sections would be to say that they are to the beginner dancer what learning about the basic functions of an automobile are about to the new driver. All of them necessary before an individual (or couple) are ready to learn where to go. Having Been an Instructor for many years, it never ceases to amaze me how teachers and the public at large are deceived into thinking that if you just learn "the steps" you'll dance. Wrong, dancing is more the quality of your car than where you are driving. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Ballroom Dancing unravels the how's, why's, and where's for the novice.
I have reviewed most of the books in the marketplace; sadly most of them are filled with unforgivable technical error. If I were Allen I would not refer to them either. In this book Mr. Allen references his own work where the subject matter is different from the present topic or where the reader may want to expand upon the topic at hand. For instance, if you want more Ballroom Tango (or Argentine Tango which is very different from the ballroom style) than the Idiot's Guide provides, then read Quickstart to Tango. If you want more Swing, Allen has written an encyclopedia of Swing steps & technique called, Quickstart to Swing.
The wedding section mentions another of Mr. Allen's books & video called "The Complete Guide to Slow Dancing," another type of dancing not covered in the Idiot's Guide. This book is meant to cover ballroom dancing and Allen gives the reader plenty to work with covering 11 different dances.... For goodness sakes he has created a combination in the Foxtrot section that really does have a stroke of genius called "The Emergency Wedding Routine," that can be easily worked out in less than two weeks. There is also instruction for presenting the bride by the groom and "The Wedding Dip," (including terrific pictures). ...this book is a masterpiece!
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2003
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Ballroom Dancing is a very good investment for those who would like to approach dancing. Jeff Allen knows what he's doing and describes the steps clearly. The only reason I gave this book 4 stars is because the text is rather small, making it seem too similiar to a textbook (bad memories from school). That's a minor problem though. Also, the CD that came with it was a great help too. The music on it was very easy to dance to. I highly recommend this book (along with a video too for those who are visual learners) to all the beginning dancers out there.
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2005
The first thing we learned from Jeff's book was that our basic pedestrian demeanor was not competent enough to deal with music's unforgiving beat structure. Music requires us to take responsibility for our entire body! Allen refers to this need as making us aware of and then solving the problems of "timing and balance", he also goes on to say that "partnering someone is a very foreign endeavor", no one is naturally endowed with the gift of "moving with someone attached to them, it is an acquired skill and must be learned!" This beginning knowledge was incredibly educational. As beginner dancers we found what and the way he laid out in the book let us approach the actual dance steps more like experienced dancers rather than just trying to quickly fumble through the dance steps and routines included in this book. By the way, eleven dances are covered in this book. There is an eleven cut CD of good music included for practice, much better than expected. This book filled in details that we never heard in classes and it helped us retain what we did hear in classes. What we are recommending to the readers of this review is first buy this book and then second grow with it. It may be the best book available on ballroom dancing palatable to the very beginner and to levels that we have yet to achieve. We also own some instructional videos and this book amplified what we were really looking at instead of just falling into the error of monkey see monkey do - when the monkeys weren't sure of what they were looking at. Allen's book revealed many of the same dance steps from their foundation. Kudos to Jeff Allen for writing this excellent book, it will make a great addition to our dance library of books, videos, and magazines.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2007
This book was different from what I was led to believe: it is a "detailed, sophisticated, and comprehensive" - not "idiot's" guide to ballroom dancing. I am enjoying the book, but the history and background, and then the technical foundation the book lays in finally getting to the actual dance steps, are more for the serious student who is NOT an idiot. This is clearly a serious book written by a serious dance teacher for serious students who are not idiots!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2006
I've had this book for 3 years now, and at the same time I've been taking weekly ballroom dance classes. I thought that as I got more hands-on instruction, I would feel more comfortable with the instructional part of the book. I never did. Now that I am far more advanced than what is taught in the book, I still feel a bit confused trying to figure out what the author trying to teach. OK, some maybe I'm an idiot, but if I am, then this book should be geared to me. If there were an accompanying DVD, then I think it would be much better.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2005
I wanted a book that I can grow with. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Ballroom Dancing fits the bill. The first sentence of each and every dance pattern start with simple phrases like "Step forward with your left foot, Step to the side with your right foot, Close your left foot to your right foot" Certainly anyone can follow these step descriptions. Then if you want to grow with more techniques it's all there right in front of you. If your taking lessons this book has to be the best reference guide anywhere! You can practice your basics without forgetting what you did in class. Allen has produced a terrific preconceived notebook for all level of dancers. Buy it you'll love it and the book will grow with you.