Enjoy your Social Dancing Part 2 of 3

April Dance Social 005_001

The previous entry was how to make the most of your social dancing when you attend dance parties.  This required you to network a bit and involve your dancing friends.  Yes, I understand you may have to put forth a bit of effort, but it’s completely worth the time you put into it.  You’ll have a far better time dancing.

     So, let’s move on to discussing group classes.

     Studios have an responsibility to you, the social dancer, with the group classes they offer.  They should have all levels available so you have a level to grow in to.  At the conclusion of the monthly class, you should feel confident that you could dance the patterns reasonable well at the next party.  This is our mission at Ballroom Journey and we plan that out carefully.  If you’re successful in dancing then we were successful teaching you.

     You also have responsibilities when attending group classes: arrive early; be courteous to others in the class as they are learning as well; while your comfort level is up to you, most people prefer dancing with people that wear long sleeve shirts in class scenarios; personal hygiene; ask the teacher if you can use a camera to record a review of the lesson or stay after to take notes, and from a teacher’s point of view, review the material and be sure the level class you attend is the current level you are dancing.  Allow me to elaborate on those last two responsibilities.

     The majority of people who take up ballroom dancing want to dance well immediately and many have a bit of a stigma being referred to as a beginner.  People tend to rush into the intermediate level classes too quickly.  Then they continue to struggle for a while until they are able to ‘get by’.  They are only fooling themselves, because when they dance with someone who is an intermediate level dancer these dancers know immediately that the beginner dancer’s balance is a bit off, styling techniques like hip action or rise and fall, if they are present, are not correct.  The list is endless.  I say be proud of being a beginner.  It takes the stress off of trying to catch up and fake your way through dancing.  I’m not saying that you should avoid dancing with higher level dancers at dance parties, but rather referring to the classes you take for your own level of learning.

     The other aspect, reviewing the material, is crucial to your continued success and progress in social dancing.  We all have very busy lives, I completely understand.  Outside of teaching, I have a few hobbies I enjoy doing as well.  However I too make time to review the material so I am prepared.

     Ideally, try to practice every day for as long as you can.  However finding a few minutes here and there throughout your day- during a commercial break, brushing your teeth, etc, is also a way to keep what you’re learning fresh.  Granted, these are not the best scenarios, but every little action helps.

     There was a study done about basketball foul shots over a decade ago.  There were three groups of people.  On the first day all three groups took shots for thirty minutes with instruction  then the amount of practice varied for the next couple of weeks.  Group One was asked not to practice at all and to completely forget about the training.  Group Two was allowed to only think about the initial session and to mentally practice what they learned.  Group Three was asked to practice for thirty minutes a day for the two week study.

      At the end of the test period all three groups were asked to return and retake the foul shots.  Well, needless to say Group One didn’t have very good results.  However the other two group’s percentage rates of making the foul shots were higher and only marginally different.  Yes, Group Three had the best over all rate of success because they practiced every day, but the significant find was how well Group Two did with only mental training.

     So, I digress a bit, but in returning to making time to review the dance material, you can continue to train your mind when you can’t physically practice and still have decent results.   Like basketball, dancing is a physical sport and there isn’t a substitute for actually practicing, but thinking about it has it’s advantages.

     In the last entry I posted three questions.  The second was, What happens when the dance chosen for a the monthly group class isn’t your favorite dance or one that you do not enjoy or learn?

     If your studio doesn’t offer a dance that you really want to learn there’s basically two solutions.  Either you try the dance or you don’t.  Now, if you choose not to try to learn the dance, then what are you going to do for the month to continue to learn and progress?  Four weeks is a severely long time to go without instruction in dancing.  (Before I give the answer, I want to re-stress that there’s something to be said for remaining loyal to your home studio.)  So, rather than taking a full month off, I say look into what group classes other studios are offering for the month and consider taking a month of classes there and return to your home studio the following month.

     Remember what I said in the previous post, your social dancing is all about you and the excitement you feel while you are dancing.  Now, I know a there is a studio mentality that exists which the studio owners and teachers feel they “own” you as their student.  Let me say that I do not share that same mentality.  Your social dancing is about you and I am the type of person/teacher that encourages you to grow as a dancer.  If the choice for you is not taking the class for a month and as a result not progressing in your hobby verse being able to continue to learn for a month with a group class that you like, then I will always encourage you to dance.

     The other option is to take an extra private lesson during this time frame.  Our four-week group classes are only slightly less than the cost of a private lesson.  Perhaps attending the dance social on the Friday one week and then plan a private lesson on a later week in the month.  This option allows you to keep your dancing fresh.

     When it comes to group classes remember to be honest with yourself and partake the  classes for your level.  (Perhaps in a later blog entry I will discuss the point when you switch from a beginner to an intermediate dancer.)  If you’re a beginner stay with the beginning classes and build your dance foundation.  It’s all about you and your social dancing.

      In the next blog entry, Part 3 of Enjoying your Social dancing, I will discuss private lessons.

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