Level Description

Each year the team at California Balboa Classic works hard to improve the workshop experience for everyone in order to provide an excellent environment for improving, experimenting with, and enjoying their Balboa.

The purpose of the “level estimate” questions is to attempt to match up the levels of leads and follows as well as balance out the ratio of leads to follows.  We rely on your honest assessment to create a workshop environment that is successful for everyone involved.  Please be prepared to dance in a workshop at the level you estimate yourself, but keep in mind that the California Balboa Classic reserves the right to move you into another group if we feel it will better serve you and the workshop experience of other participants.

Our goal this year is to try to place attendees in appropriate groups as much as possible before the event, so that the level check at the event is truly just a level “check.”

PLEASE do not sign up for a lower or higher level and expect the level check to move you.
Balboa Crash Course
Balboa Crash Course

(Beginner & Beg/Int)

(6 hours of workshops, discounted price, all dance access)

Perfect for those interested in learning Balboa or reviewing the Pure Balboa & Bal-Swing basics. Learn the basic Balboa vocabulary, essential technique and some styling. This pass includes classes held on Saturday & Sunday only, access to all three evening dances with Live Music and Late Night dances.  This is geared towards fast learning beginners, beginners who have learned some Balboa and beg/int level Balboa dancers.

This class will likely include:
  • Single and double time Pure Bal basics (up-holds & down-holds)
  • Progressive steps/variations in Pure Bal with tips for shuffling
  • Come-arounds in closed and open position
  • Lolly Kicks & Turns, plus necessary stretch and compression technique
  • Out & Ins or Crossover breaks, with “out, out, in, in” flow and timing
  • Pointers for follows to better connect and develop a sensitivity to subtle leads and transitions
  • Other moves, variations or exercises that the teachers see fit
Benny Goodman
Aspiring
Full weekend pass, includes all workshops & dances.  Each group will have a “level check” during their first class, where you will receive your wristband for access to workshops in your approved group.

You are SURE that the Balboa Crash Course is not for you since you have some experience dancing Pure Bal and Bal-Swing, and you are already confident with the material to be taught in the Balboa Crash Course.

Dancers at this level will likely be able to add some stylings and variations to the steps that they should already know, listed below.

Leads at this level usually feel that they need help expanding their vocabulary so that they aren’t repeating the same moves. They may need help refining their lead since they can lead well on some follows, but not on others.

Follows at this level often feel that they need to work on quickly adjusting to weight changes and transitions so that they can achieve that consistent connection and follow leaders at any level. They also may need help adding style and variations to their dancing without disrupting the flow of their lead.

You must already have experience with the following moves and concepts:
  • Single and double time Pure Bal basics (up-holds & down-holds)
  • Paddle-Turns and/or Progressive Shuffles or Steps (forward, sideways, backwards)
  • Come-arounds in closed and open position
  • Lolly Kicks, come-arounds into Lolly Kicks
  • Out & Ins or Crossover breaks
  • Some turns and/or throw-outs
  • How to shuffle in Pure Bal
  • Compression and stretch technique in Lolly Kicks & Turns

Note: If this description doesn’t quite fit you, we recommend signing up for the Balboa Crash Course or asking your local instructor for advice on which level most accurately describes your dancing.

Chick Webb
Experienced
Full weekend pass, includes all workshops & dances.  Each group will have a “level check” during their first class, where you will receive your wristband for access to workshops in your approved group.

In addition to being very comfortable with the ideas and material listed for “Aspiring,”  you should know and be comfortable demonstrating footwork variations in Pure Bal, Lolly Kicks, and Out & Ins and can demonstrate some musical changes in any of these basic movements.

Leads at this level should have a pretty solid vocabulary of moves beyond the basics and should be working on how to manipulate the moves they already know to fit the music and to adapt to their follow’s ability.

Follows at this level should know the material in “Aspiring” well enough that they could demonstrate the movements without a partner if needed. They are likely working on ways to finesse their follow with any level of lead (advanced or not) and are interested in intricate details to improve their following ability and add their voice or style into their social dances.

In addition to the “Aspiring” material, you should be able to demonstrate most of these:
  • Crab walks
  • Counterbody motion in Pure Bal (Drags)
  • Triple steps in Pure Bal (independently or led)
  • Multiple ways to shuffle or styles of shuffling in Pure Bal
  • How your connection and body position should change between Out & Ins, Lolly Kicks, and Pure Bal
  • Throw-Outs: Regular and behind-the-back(leads)
  • Texas Tommy’s or Apaches
  • Maxie’s Slide (Texas Tommy with slide and double turn)
  • Maxie’s Stop Step (swivels with a led “V”-slide break and slide to side)
  • Fall off the logs or “Hal’s Kicks”
  • Ability to spin at least one turn, on one foot, while balanced
Django Reinhardt
Experienced Plus
Full weekend pass, includes all workshops & dances.  Each group will have a “level check” during their first class, where you will receive your wristband for access to workshops in your approved group.

You are confident at all, and more, of the concepts and movements listed for Aspiring and Experienced.  You are a faster learner than others who are at a similar skill level to you.  You can watch a move or styling once or twice and replicate it without much explanation.  

Leads at this level should have a large vocabulary of moves and should be working on how to manipulate the moves they already know to fit the music and to adapt to their follow’s ability.  In class they should be able pick up new moves or techniques quickly and demonstrate them to music.

Follows at this level should know the material in “Aspiring” and “Experienced” well enough that they can demonstrate the overall movements individually without their partner.  In class these follows should be able to learn movements, body shapes or variations quickly while still being able to follow changes the lead may make, expected or not.

In addition to the “Aspiring” and “Experienced” material, you should be able to demonstrate ALL of these:
  • Crab walks
  • Counterbody motion in Pure Bal (Drags)
  • Triple steps in Pure Bal (independently or led)
  • Multiple ways to shuffle or styles of shuffling in Pure Bal
  • How your connection and body position should change between Out & Ins, Lolly Kicks, and Pure Bal
  • Throw Outs: regular and behind-the-back(leads)
  • Throw Outs:  ability to variate while leading or following and adjust to fit to the music without disrupting the overall flow
  • Texas Tommy’s or Apaches
  • Maxie’s Slide (Texas Tommy with slide and double turn)
  • Maxie’s Stop Step (swivels with a led “V”-slide break and slide to side)- Follows should be able to follow this step with various timings
  • Fall off the logs or “Hal’s Kicks”
  • Ability to spin one turn, on one foot, while balanced
Duke Ellington
Top-Shelf
Full weekend pass, includes all workshops & dances.  Each group will have a “level check” during their first class, where you will receive your wristband for access to workshops in your approved group.

You are far beyond the descriptions for “Aspiring,” “Experienced,” and “Experienced Plus.”  At this point, your mentality for classes is to spend less time learning moves or variations and to spend more time improving your finesse and quality of dancing.  You already know how to add style or variations to the music and are likely working on how to better show off your partner(ship) and develop your own voice and style.

  • Your technique and style in Pure Bal are at a level comfortable and enjoyable for top dancers.
  • Beginners feel that connecting to you is easy since you can make adjustments for their skill level and enjoyment
  • You know a variety of style choices and variations  and can musically insert them into a dance without disturbing the partnership
  • You could lead or follow an entire dance in Bal-Swing blindfolded (literally)
  • You are able to recover from mistakes and disconnects while social dancing without losing the beat or breaking the flow of your dancing.

Leads at this level are often exploring new ways to demonstrate musicality and are able to watch a move and replicate it after a couple of tries with no instruction.
Follows at this level are usually so comfortable with adapting to many partners that they can follow moves and rhythms they have never been led in before. They could easily teach a friend a couple stylings or variations they do that they created.
The true mark of a Top Shelf dancer is that they are not held back by the ability of their partner’s dancing and often elevate other dancers in a similar way a teacher would while social dancing.

Fletcher Henderson
Over-the-Top
Full weekend pass, includes all workshops & dances. Each group will have a “level check” during their first class, where you will receive your wristband for access to workshops in your approved group.

You meet and surpass all of the descriptions for “Aspiring”, “Experienced”, “Experienced Plus” and “Top Shelf”.  You often attend three or more national or international Balboa events per year because you can’t get enough Balboa without it.  You have likely been asked to teach Balboa classes within AND outside your hometown and have been placed in the Invitational track at other Balboa events.  If you compete, you often make the finals (if not consistently place) at most Balboa weekend events you attend.  This level will be treated similarly to an invitational track.*

* Dancers who register at this level may be requested to provide a reference from another teacher or invitational level dancer.

Balboa Invitational
Invitational Balboa Track
(6 hours of focused workshops with peers, access to all workshops of any level, access to all dances)

You have read all of the descriptions for “Aspiring” through “Over-the-Top” and feel that you could learn something from classes at any of these levels.  You likely can lead AND follow (not required).  You are most likely teaching locally and have been asked to teach outside of your hometown.  You are at a level where you can confidently give feedback to peers as well as learn something from anyone.  This level isn’t just about your dance skill, it is about the amount of time you have spent thinking about, studying and practicing dancing outside of organized classes, dances, etc.
At the California Balboa Classic, we feel that dancers at this level have less need for lots of hours of workshops, but do better with small chunks of ideas to work on.  People invited into this class will have only 6 hours of workshops with this group, however they are welcome to participate in any workshop during the weekend keeping in mind the lead/follow ratios in each group.

If you wish to be considered for this level, after registering for your Full Weekend Pass, send an email to Questions@calbalclassic.com accompanied by a video of your dancing and the name of a teacher who can verify your dancing.