Posts Tagged ‘dance lessons’

The Most Important Part of Ballroom Dancing

Monday, December 21st, 2009
Rumba

Rumba

What is the most important part of ballroom dancing?

Practice is the most important part of learning how to dance.

You probably don’t want to hear that. I am no expert, but I believe that the only way to improve our ballroom dancing skills is through the physical development of our body and muscle movements, particularly our upper leg muscles and back muscles. It is this muscle memory that ensures the predictable outcome of dancing to the music with a partner. I find that dancing is like any physical skill in that it can be learned well through practice.

The correct technique feels wrong at first.

When learning new dance steps and patterns in ballroom dancing, I often find that the correct technique feels wrong at first, while the incorrect technique feels natural.

If what I am doing feels natural, right and comfortable, I tend to receive feedback during the dance classes from the instructor that corrects errors that I am making. I learn from my mistakes. Practice is where I make mistakes and find my errors and weaknesses. It gives me something specific to work with.  Once identified, I can turn these weaknesses into strengths through practice.

Failure is a vital part of the learning process.

As a new ballroom dancer, we must be willing to fail. When learning new patterns or steps, we need to commit our entire body to the step. We need to ‘act as if’ we have been doing this step for years already.

It’s OK to make mistakes when we are learning something new. In fact, it is desirable. In dancing this is how we train our muscles. The same mistakes will only persist if we keep doing the same thing and are expecting a different outcome each time. Learning to dance can be like learning to walk all over again. After all, children learning to walk make mistakes and never give up.

I do find that with practice – over time – the correct technique and dance steps will feel right and become more natural. This is because through repetition we can transform unfamiliar body movements into the familiar, consistent movements required for effective dancing.

Practice increases confidence.

During practice time, we build our confidence naturally. The use and training of our muscles will increase our confidence on the dance floor. The confidence comes from our increasing competence – knowing what to do and how to do it.

Only after lots of practice is it wise for us to attempt in public what we have nailed in practice. I believe that it is better to raise the level of our physical capabilities before learning more complex steps and patterns. That is, get the basics right first.

Set attainable goals for each practice session.

When we want to learn to dance, setting short-term and underachieving goals work best. Especially if we write them down. (It is well-known that people who write down their goals are more successful than those who do not.)

Taking baby steps works better than giant leaps forward. This is why we set underachieving goals. The intention is to do less than we want to. Instead of practicing for an hour, commit to only 20 minutes or less. By doing so we will feel underwhelmed and look forward to practicing, instead of being impatient and pushing ourselves to overachieve. Too much effort may well work against us and be counter productive. Once stress, pressure or emotional reactions have occurred in the practice session, it is time to stop.

There is no need to practice for long periods of time. Shorter, frequent intervals are best. For example, two times a day practice for 10 minutes is better than one hour once a week.  It is easier to find this time than a few hours per week. This approach lends itself to the step-by-step way of learning ballroom dancing. Each new step is dependent on successful learning and improving the correct technique.

In summary

By being willing to fail and creating an authentic, practice schedule with realistic and easily attainable goals, we will find that our dancing becomes better and more enjoyable when we do.

Ballroom Dancing Overview

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Ballroom dancing involves dancing a variety of social dances with a partner. This type of dancing is when a couple follow a pattern of dance steps. For a couple to dance well requires that they are connected and that the man is firm in the lead, and the woman is flexible in following the lead. The purpose is for the two dancers to become one being dancing to the music.

All that is required to learn the dance steps is patience, practice and a desire to learn.

Different Dances

Ballroom dancing combines different dances. Modern ballroom includes Latin dances and American-style dancing that feature a lot of  turns and quick movements. The dances can be slow or fast depending on the type of dance you are doing. Although the dances are different, they do have similarities.

Forward and On the Spot Dances

Dances that involve a continuous forward movement are danced in a line counter clockwise around the dance floor e.g. Waltz, Foxtrot, and Tango.

Rumba ballroom dancing photo

Rumba

Dances  that involve dancing on the spot are danced in the centre of the dance floor e.g the Jive, Mambo, Rumba and Cha cha cha.

Dance Lessons

Group lessons from a dance studio or club is enough to learn the basic steps and get to know the dances.  In a group, I get to dance with different partners and progress faster than if I were to dance only with one partner.

I also  find that I learn faster when I repeat the dance level (e.g. bronze 1) I have just completed at the same time as taking the next level (e.g. bronze 2). I get to see what I missed the first time around which helps me to begin to really master the fundamentals.

Dance Shoes

Ballroom dance shoes help the beginner learn as they make the dancing easier.

Dance Music

Some music seems easier to dance to than others. I learn more quickly when the  music I am dancing to has a clear beat and I know what the timing of the music is. I have started a list of dance music that I like and has an obvious rhythm.

Dance Competition

Dancing ballroom has also evolved into a competition sport. Even though beginners can compete with each other, this is not for me right now! I am not fit enough and I think it might take the fun out of learning to dance.

World Dance Culture

Dancing has always been part of human cultures. There are ancient cave paintings illustrate that the first humans danced in some form. Today, people still like to rhythmically move their bodies in time with music. There are many, many dance styles throughout the world that are used as a form of expression, socializing or performance. Every dance style has something in common. They tend to involve flexible body movement and are based on physics and geometry.

Within this world dance culture, ballroom dance is a classical style of dance along with ballet and tango. Classical dancing teaches the qualities of grace, balance and poise, and fulfills the human need for physical intimacy and contact.

At the same time there are other dances where dancers are not in physical contact with each other. Line dancing is a dance with a repeated sequence of steps, in which a group of people dance in one or more lines, all facing the same direction and doing the dance steps at the same time. Belly Dancing is a traditional folk dance from the Middle East and is a dance style that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Hip hop dancing to hip hop music is freestyle in nature and includes breakdancing and krumping.