by Hedy McAdams

Some 64-count dances lend themselves to being taught as 32-count dances. Understanding why this is true may help dance instructors make informed decisions about which teaching method to employ. Speaking from my own experience as a teacher, choreographer, and student, I find that many line dance students have difficulty with "holds" and prefer to learn a dance with extra syncopations instead.

I have employed this teaching method with other dances such as Neil Hale's "Ribbon of Highway" and "Hedy’s Choreography". If you look at my step sheet for "R&CC", you'll see that I give teachers the option of teaching this as a 48-count or a 24-count dance. Most people I know opt for the 24-count teach. Trish Boesel reports that she tried teaching it both ways and found that her students learned and remembered the dance easier from a 24-count teach. Note that this doesn't work with ALL songs by any means.

"The Rose" is in this category of dances which can be taught with syncopations by counting the music slowly instead of quickly (The tempo isn't changing: we're merely saying "1&2&" instead of "1234"). My decision to teach "The Rose" as a 32-count is based on two clues I found in the music and in the step sheets. First, when I listened to the music I noticed that it could be counted comfortably and accurately two ways-either quickly OR slowly. Second, when I looked at the step sheet I noticed that it contained a lot of "holds."

A brief explanation about how I taught "The Rose" as a 32-count dance to my students may clarify this further. Take, for example, the first 8 counts of "The Rose", which Julie cues (I'm paraphrasing) as follows: FORWARD - HOLD - TOGETHER - SHIFT - FORWARD - HOLD - TOGETHER - SHIFT. These 8 counts are comprised of 6 weight changes and 2 holds. The alternative is to interpret the music as follows: 1, 2&3, 4& - same number of weight changes (6), and long beats on steps 1 and 3 which incorporate the holds. Treated as 4 counts with syncopations, the cueing will be: FORWARD -- TOGETHER/SHIFT -- FORWARD -- TOGETHER/SHIFT. The footwork is identical, and the holds are implied.

Another way to explain this is to think about down-beats and up-beats. If you count both the down-beats and up-beats (quickly) as full counts you will get a bpm range of approximately 120-128. This is how Julie counted the song. If you count just the down-beats (slowly) you will get a bpm range of 64-68. This is how I counted the song. Julie employed "holds" to account for up-beats. I employed syncopations to account for the up-beats.

Both teaching methods are correct. This is not a matter of the "right" or "wrong" way to teach the dance or hear the music. The method you choose to use depends upon your teaching style and what you know about how your students can best learn and retain the dance. The important point is that the dance that results from both teaching methods is "still the same" dance.

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The Theory Behind the 32 Count Teach