Posts Tagged ‘social dancing’

Ballroom Dancing Benefits

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

There are many health and physical benefits associated with dancing. Many new dancers find that their physical fitness, body language and physical confidence improve as they progress in ballroom dancing.

Would you like to lose weight and have more shapely legs?

Dancing for 30 minutes burns calories equivalent to walking, swimming and cycling. Repeatedly doing dance steps is a cardiovascular exercise and works out the major muscle groups. In a short period of time of dancing, you will burn fat tissue and increase muscle mass in your legs. As you continue to dance you will experience an increase in the strength, size and firmness of your legs. You can think of it like this: every time you go dancing, it is like going to the gym.

Now isn’t this kind of exercise a lot more fun than doing squats in the gym? To read more reasons why dance classes are better than gym memberships, check out this article from the site: Dance Classes in Wellington. You can even work out at home with ballroom dancing videos.

Do you slouch and have poor posture?

Ballroom dancing will improve your posture and the way you walk. You will develop correct postural movement if you practice regularly dancing over time.  Gradually, you will train your muscle memory to correct the habitual movements that have led to poor posture. As you learn to dance, your normal movement will improve. Your self-image will improve as you walk tall and straight.

The way to accelerate this process is to consciously apply the the elements of balance, timing and carriage of your body to your daily routine. If you would like to improve your posture specifically through exercise (and in turn improve your dancing frame), check out the Posture Exercises Guide.

Are you stressed and tired most of the time?

Dancing will alleviate stress and increase your feeling of well-being. Stress is a daily reality for us all and can lead to some serious health problems. Consistent dancing exercise over time leads to lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels.

In today’s fast pace of life, reducing stress is a necessity, not an option. Dancing can give you a break from difficult circumstances. Dancing is a great stress relief for both your body and your mind. Through dancing, you can release emotional blockages (e.g. anger, sadness, worry) in your nervous system and learn how to relax through movements.

Would you like to have more fun and enjoyment in your life?

Women dance because of the music. Men dance because of the women. They both love to dance because it is fun and intimate. Not only is it fun, ballroom dancing balances your mind and body, strengthens your muscles, improves your self-confidence, and maintains your health. What’s not to like?

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.

How to Learn Ballroom Dance Steps

Monday, September 28th, 2009

ballroomdancing3

My First Ballroom Dancing Steps

The first basic steps that I learned at my ballroom dancing lessons were the Jive dance steps. I remember watching a demonstration of the basic steps with some turns thinking that the dance looked cool. I doubted that I could do them as well as that. When I also had to learn the basic steps to the Rumba and Waltz in the same first dance class, I thought that there was no way I was going to be able to do these dances any time soon.

Although the basic dance steps seemed straightforward and easy to do. It did take me some time to get the hang of them.  I had trouble harmonizing my feet and my mind. I knew what I wanted to do, but couldn’t seem to do it. I kept messing up and making mistakes. So did my dance partner too. But it was okay because we were still having fun.

Practicing Dance Steps At Home

I now know that this is a common experience for me when learning any new dance step. There is always a learning curve before I can do them well. It takes me awhile to get  used to transferring my body weight from one foot to the other within the period of time required by the music. Once I get to know the feel of having all of my weight over the next foot, I tend to make progress because the foot must be supporting the body on each step for dancing to happen.

What works for me is to practice and learn the steps at home on my own soon after doing them for the first time in a ballroom dance lesson. Every day, or every other day, I like to try out the steps for 5 minutes or so – without music at first – until I feel like I know what I am doing. There comes a point with enough repetitions when it just clicks and I can do the steps consistently. Sometimes I practice along with a dance steps video so that I can see what others are doing while I practice the steps.

Learning the steps for such dances as the cha cha cha, jive and rumba etc. is simply about repeating an action the same way each time. If we do the basic steps 1000 times, we might not become brilliant dancers, but we will know a lot about doing those basic steps in time to music.

Learning Dance Steps Without Music

When learning without music, I find that there are three things that help harmonize my mind and body:

  1. To say the steps out loud while doing them
  2. Exaggerate the steps (raise my feet higher than usual)
  3. Look up (rather than looking at my feet) all of the time while practicing the steps

Learning Dance Steps With Music

After practicing the steps without music, I start trying to dance the steps in time with the music – a slow song first, then faster ones as I get the hang of it.

Copyright: Stefano Bussolon (flickr)

Copyright: Stefano Bussolon (flickr)

When learning with music, I find that there are three things that help harmonize my mind and body:

  1. Move my feet on the spot to the beat of the music following the basic pattern of the particular dance (e.g. slow, slow, quick, quick)
  2. Take little steps forward in time with the music following the basic pattern of the particular dance
  3. Keep the steps small when doing the correct footprints of the dance

Learning Dance Steps With A Partner

When learning dance steps with a partner, I find that I must commit myself to the movement. My body has to move before my feet do. When I move my body first, my legs and feet respond accordingly and accommodate this body movement. I see that the direction of movement has more to do with my body than my foot placements.

I have found that I have to commit to the movement in order for my dance partner to know what we are doing. When I step forward, she will step back and vice versa. She can only do that once I have started to move with certainty. Committing to the movement as a couple allows us to feel the movement and come to know what a dance step is meant to feel like.

When I first started dancing, I used to worry about stepping on my partner’s foot. But when I commit myself to the step, my partner automatically moves and leaves the space for my foot to step into. If I am hesitant in my movement, I often step on her foot.

When learning with a partner, I have also learned that we must be proficient in the dance steps before we can teach others how to do them. People are different. Some pick up the steps faster than others. That’s just the way we are. When learning, patience and kindness always help.

And Finally,

Even though it’s normal to do so, I find it best to not compare my current dancing ability with others. I know that over time with practice and attention I will improve as a ballroom dancer. I know that there will come a time when the dancing becomes automatic and I realize that I can do the steps of a dance consistently without thinking.