3 out of 4 stars
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Beginner’s Only Dance Book by Allen G. Darnel is a highly informative book that provides the history, basic technique, and musical information for a variety of Latin and ballroom dances. Darnel clearly has a lot of experience with dance and he beautifully shares all of his knowledge from both experience and research throughout his book.
The book is very well organized, with the first chapter dictating reasons and benefits for learning to dance, the second chapter detailing many different styles of dance (including fox trot, waltz, swing, mambo, tango, fad dancing, and much more), the third chapter focusing on levels of learning to dance, the fourth chapter detailing dance basics such as body position and expression, chapter five outlining musical information for dancers, and chapter six providing “personal pointers” for dancers to apply to their newly gained knowledge as they begin to execute their dance moves. Chapter seven then provides illustrations of the various dance styles, and the remaining chapters contain bonus information including how to choose a good studio and teacher, etiquette, information about competitive dancing, and exercises that can help a new dancer supplement their training.
The organization of the book is key to the success of this book; the information provided is so highly detailed that had it not been well organized, the details would have been lost. It is abundantly clear that the author used both research and personal experience to provide as much information as possible, and the pictures included throughout the book greatly supplement each topic.
Each chapter provides sufficient information on its own to give the reader a solid base for learning, but the chapters also work well when read together in order to gain a well-rounded concept for each style of dance. For example, a person who is interested in learning about the waltz can easily skip to the parts of each chapter the pertain to waltz and gain a thorough understanding of the waltz from its history to its basic execution with tips and musical information to boot.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. While the book is incredibly informative and covers a wide range of topics that will help to teach dance history, technique, and musical information, some of the information that is included is quite confusing. The highly detailed information provides a ton of information which helps to thoroughly explain each concept, however giving a completely new beginner that much detail could be more confusing than helpful if the reader attempts to absorb all of the information at once. To get the most out of this book, it should be absorbed in small increments so the reader can fully understand and master each concept before trying to move on to the next. The book is well edited, and it is clear the author put a lot of time and effort into the research and editing of the information.
Beginner's Only Dance Book
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