Learn how to ballroom dance, because this form of dance if fun and easy and everyone can do it.
In a sense learning how to dance is like learning a new language, a language in which moods and emotions are expressed in movement. Dance is a language of rhythm, grace and harmony, but in a very real sense it is the oldest language in the world, for dancing is the oldest form of art.
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Why Should I Learn How To Ballroom Dance?
Dancing is a wholesome, natural outlet for the emotions. It develops grace and poise, timing and balance. Men take pride in there ability to lead there partners with assurance and poise. Ladies enjoy the ability to follow there partners smoothly, and expertly.
Taking dance lessons is a great way to improve your confidence, fitness levels and have a lot of fun while doing it. So, welcome to the magical world of ballroom dancing!
Lots of people start with social dancing. Social dancing classes are great places to learn ballroom dancing. A small percentage of social dancers later find that there love of dance compels them to become competitive dancers. Social dances normally start with a one-hour dance lesson and it is normally possible to find weekly group dance lessons especially for beginners.
The ballroom dances you can learn are as follows:
- Vieniesse Waltz
- Argentine Tango
- Passo Doble
Do you need a partner to learn how to ballroom dance? No. Lots of classes accept singles. If you already have a partner then you can have fun learning together.
Tips For Learning Ballroom Dancing
Just Do It!
Too many would-be dancers have convinced themselves, or let others tell them, that they ‘just can’t dance’, so they never even attempt to learn.
If you can walk, you can learn to dance. Ballroom dancing is composed of steps, forward, back, to the side, and in place. It’s the combining of these steps in different ways that creates the pattern of a dance. The steps are learned one at a time, just like when you were two and learning to walk!
Don’t let anyone discourage you, you CAN learn how to ballroom dance!
Choose A Good Studio
Choose a dance studio carefully.
All dance studios are not the same. It has been my experience that the best value for the money is with a locally owned, independent studio, rather than one of the nationwide chains.
This is not always the case, but I’ve found it to be true more times than not. I would also strongly suggest that you find a studio that caters specifically to ballroom dancing if you want to take it more seriously, not one whose primary interest is ballet, tap, jazz, with only a couple of ballroom classes added as an afterthought.
Selecting your instructor is an important decision and you want to ensure that your instructor has professional qualifications. Obtain a copy of there resume for professional examinations and there experience in teaching beginners. The United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association will be able to advise you further in this regard.
Start Off With A Beginner’s Group Class
Group classes are usually quite reasonably priced compared with private lessons, so there is no huge initial outlay of cash. Check out a few different dance studios. Most dance studios will offer group and private lessons. Look for studios offering a mixture of the two. How many teachers do they have? Do they have an introductory offer?
Also, everyone in the group is just like you, a beginner, so there’s less chance of feeling silly if you miss a step or two. (And you will, but so will everyone else. You’ll quickly learn to just laugh it off and keep going.)
Whether you have a partner will not matter in a group class. Most instructors will rotate the partners in a class, partially to take care of uneven numbers of men and women, but also to improve each member’s ability to lead and follow.
If you are a man, you lead, and the woman must follow.
There is normally a lot of joking and laughing during group classes as everyone learns new skills and makes mistakes together. They’re always a lot of fun, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you begin looking forward to the next class. Classes generally meet once a week, usually for an hour, for a period of 6 or 8 weeks, at which time you can choose to continue with that class or choose another.
Don’t Give Up Too Soon
Don’t get discouraged to soon! You’ll probably come away from that first class feeling a bit overwhelmed and letting negative thoughts invade your head, telling you that you’ll never get it right. Simply not true! You fortunately can’t remember back when you were two and first learning to walk. How many times do you suppose you fell on your tussle before you actually made it all the way across the room?
What if you had told yourself to just give up, this is too hard, I’ll never learn this? I guess we’d all still be crawling! Learning to dance is like learning to ride a bicycle. Once you have mastered the basics, you never forget them, then from there you just add on to that basic skill with variations.
When you get home, try to repeat at least some of the steps you learned during that first class. Even if you can’t remember them by the time you get to your car, the next class almost always starts with a review of the last class. If you’ll stick to it for the duration of the 6 or 8 week session, you’ll come out on the other end with great knowledge of some basic moves under your belt, I promise.
What Should I Wear?
The attire worn to ballroom dance classes is as varied as the people who attend them. Some wear jeans or slacks, some women prefer to dance in skirts or dresses.
The main thing is to wear clothes that are comfortable, perhaps a little loose, to give you the freedom to move without constriction. Another thing to consider when choosing your apparel is temperature. Most studios are kept a little on the cool side, so you may be tempted to wear a sweater or long-sleeved shirt. Make sure you layer, as you do get hot quite quickly and you will want to get rid of the layers. A short-sleeved, lightweight shirt will serve you well. Clean, casual and comfortable is best.
As far as shoes go, your choice of shoes can make the difference between enjoying ballroom dancing and not being able to even master the steps. Don’t make the mistake of wearing rubber-soled shoes. They don’t offer the proper traction for sliding, spinning or turning.
A loafer-type is good, or any shoe with a smooth sole. For women, a shoe with a heel makes for attractive movements, but certainly isn’t a necessity when you’re first getting started. Later on, you may want to consider purchasing a pair of dance shoes. These are specifically designed to be worn on the dance floor and nowhere else. The soles are suede, allowing them to slide easily, which makes turns and spins almost effortless. Some studios offer dance shoes for sale, or there are many sites online from which you can order like these beautiful Latin/Ballroom shoes on the right.
I wouldn’t wear open-toed shoes in the beginning, or sandals or flip-flops, because when you walk backwards, you will walk right out of them. Also, remember you’re in a beginning class, and there is always the possibility someone accidentally steps on those delicate toes. Ouch!
Try to arrive a few minutes before the class starts, and in that way you don’t rush into class late and disturb the rest of the class.
You may also need those few extra minutes to change your shoes, mingle a bit with the rest of the class and maybe even do some ankle circles to warm up those fee a little.
Commit To Doing Some Practice
You will never become proficient in ballroom dancing, (or anything else, for that matter) without practice. If you’re having a problem with a particular step or pattern, it’s perfectly acceptable to hang around a few minutes after class and go through it a time or two with your partner. Practice the steps at home once or twice a day, and you’ll be amazed at how much better you retain them throughout the week and it will make the next class just that much easier.
This is another benefit of arriving early for class, it affords you the time to practice those steps once more before the instructor begins. You can also ask your class mates if you are stuck.
A lot of studios also offer a ‘practice party’ or ‘studio dance’ weekly or monthly. These are excellent for practicing what you’ve learned as well as seeing the more accomplished dancers in action, which is what you’re striving to become!
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of the studio dances or even going dancing with your partner over the weekend. Use your new skills, because the more you use them, be more comfortable and confident you will get maneuvering yourself around the dance floor.
Learn How To Ballroom Dance And Reap Other Rewards
There are many other benefits to learning ballroom dancing.
These are just a few of them:
- Boosts your self-confidence.
- Making new friends.
- Improve your cardiovascular health.
- Get some exercise.
- Get rid of stress.
- Great brain workout as you have to concentrate on new steps all the time.
- Improve your social skills.
- Great all over body workout.
- Fun way to lose weight and get into shape.
The dance floor is a great equalizer. In a beginners class, everyone is a beginner, whether they’re a doctor or lawyer, a construction worker, waitress or school teacher.
For that hour each week, the stresses of daily life simply melt away as you immerse yourself in learning the steps and listening to the music and connecting with your partner. Its great therapy and a lot cheaper than a psychiatrist!
Learning to ballroom dance is not a race or a competition. Everyone in the class will arrive at the same place eventually, all the while dancing with there respective partners and having a great time.
You may experience moments of frustration with yourself or your partner, but don’t let that overshadow all the benefits of becoming the best ballroom dancer you can be.
If you find you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, consider a different dance. Perhaps the foxtrot or waltz is not your cup of tea, try the others or maybe the Latin American Dances like the cha-cha, mambo or the swing will appeal to you more?
Given time, you’ll find your favorite and you can focus on that. My guess is that you’ll wind up like most ballroom dancers, loving them all and not wanting to stop until you’ve learned them all.