Murray’s Medalist system – Heads above the rest
As you all know, I come from a dancing family. What some of you may not know is my dad’s story with the Arthur Murray Dance Centers. In the 50’s, at the end of the “Arthur Murray Dance Party” TV show, they had a mystery dance. The person that correctly guessed the name of the dance would win a complimentary lesson at their local Arthur Murray. When my dad was 13, he guessed the Mambo correctly, and his mom let him take the complimentary lesson. By the time he was 17, he was the first Gold Medalist and helped train the Arthur Murray Instructors.
Why am I sharing this with you? My father, my mother, myself, my husband, my sister-in-law (ok, I think you get the point) have all been products of the Arthur Murray Medalist System, so we really know the system inside out. Arthur Murray’s structure and teaching methods is what puts us head and shoulders above the rest of the dance world when it comes to teaching ballroom dance.
Arthur Murray’s ballroom dance syllabus is broken down into three levels: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Within each of these levels there are four sub-levels. It’s kind of like college where you obtain your Associate degree, Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate. You repeat this process for each medalist level.
Arthur Murray has a medalist system to define the different levels of dance. Although Arthur Murray is not the only organization to use the medalist terms (bronze, silver, and gold), it certainly has the most thought out and organized system. Each step in each level is in the order it is for a specific purpose. The purpose is to be able to teach any student, regardless of ability or experience, in the most efficient way possible. Since Arthur Murray has been around for over 100 years, Arthur Murray has more time than any other dance school to collaborate and get it right. For instance, the medalist system is put together much like learning math in school. You have to learn to add and subtract before you can multiply and divide. There are many people out there who have taken dance lessons and still feel as if they did not learn, and unfortunately, that is because they were taught dance steps out of order. How frustrating would multiplication be if you hadn’t mastered arithmetic first?
In order to be able to move onto the next level in the medalist system, each student has to graduate in his or her current level. The student must know their school figures (the dance steps) and be able to dance them to music with a partner to graduate. They also must be able to do the steps on their own without a partner or help from their teacher. Along with knowing the steps, they must be able to execute the techniques associated with the level such as leading and following, footwork, and timing. Each level’s techniques get progressively harder to accommodate the new elements introduced in each level. This is why Arthur Murray instructors really know how to effectively teach ballroom dancing inside and out!
Since graduating a level is no small feat, we celebrate our students’ accomplishments at Medal Ball twice a year. It is a formal dinner/dance/awards show for the students who have graduated a level. Medal Balls are also great events for new students to attend, even if they have yet to graduate from any of their dances. As a new student, Medal Balls are very inspirational and informative. You get to see your fellow students graduate from a level and move on to the next level. It is also a great way to see what you have to look forward to as you graduate from each level.
Of course, our Medalist System is not the only thing that stands Arthur Murray apart from the rest, but it is certainly a big part.
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