JEFF ALLEN is a columnist for Dancing USA magazine and the author of four books on social and ballroom dancing. He holds Membership credentials with the North American Dance Teachers Association, Inc., and the Pan American Teachers Association. After competing in national and international competitions and winning the Gold closed level at the North American Championships, Jeff turned professional in 1984. However, he considers his greatest accomplishments to be the more than 30 Top Teacher awards he has won and being listed among the top teachers in America by DVIDA as a Regional examiner and teacher trainer.
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.
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!Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.