Learn at Home

Sometimes this is the best choice for an individual interested in learning the new skill of social dancing. There are several valid reasons for this:

  • sporadic schedule making it impossible to attend classes regularly
  • inhibitions about group learning
  • unavailability of this kind of offering within reasonable geographic distance
  • need for activity to fit into tight budget
  • personal preference

We can offer a wonderfully simple solution to the above challenges.

Aren’t we lucky that the media age has arrived and, with the purchase of a DVD or a visit to a website, we can bring the instruction to us and become a smooth dancing machine….

  • in the privacy of our own home
  • at a time most convenient to us?

Throw in the amazing affordability and it’s a slam dunk!

Enhancement to Class Attendance
In fact this type of learning can enhance the experience of the student who actually has the opportunity of attending a class on a regular basis. Other demands of life often intrude on the best intentions of practicing to cement the material presented in a class before presented with more new material the following week. And what about those times when there is a fairly long break between class levels? Or a family vacation? Or a long business trip?

With the chance to look at the instructions again on demand and when it’s convenient, a wannabe dancer can speed up the process of becoming a force to be reckoned with on the social dance floor. And, of course, that’s our goal, isn’t it?

Important Next Step ~ How to Practice

Knowing how to practice is just important as the concept of doing so. Let’s talk about that now.

In class we will learn a new step, leading technique or following technique. Then we will do it over and over, changing partners until we return to where we started. At this point our original partner will usually notice a definite improvement from their first experience. No music is used at this point because the focus is on development of muscle sense and concentration on the material presented.
At this point it’s very, very important to note that dancing with different partners speeds up your progress and provides you with feedback that isn’t available from any other source. If a leader goes around the room with different partners and can’t communicate his message to any of them…..he has learned that he may have to review of his perception of what was presented. On the other hand, if several of the followers went where he intended, then he learned that some of the ladies followed better than the others. His new task now becomes to reach a new level of leading so that he can assist those who need more direction…..but that doesn’t mean pushing harder, gentlemen…….it means becoming clearer in your leading skills which are centered in yourself.

The followers can experience and learn from the opposite side of the coin. If you dance with all of the available partners and don’t have a clue how to keep up with them, you will want to spend time learning about the clues you’re supposed to look for to solve the puzzle. There are many points you have to consider. It also must be mentioned that if the leaders are in a position of learning the step or movement themselves, they will traditionally be at least one lesson behind a lady because we all learn in steps. First we learn the material, then we practice it and then we can assume the responsibility of making it happen. Followers don’t get involved in the last phase so obviously they will be ready to execute earlier. HOWEVER, ladies you will learn patience along with your dance steps……SMILE as you read this sentence!!!

If you go back to where we introduced the topic of the first step in learning something new, and then check over all of the information provided in the last 2 paragraphs, you may begin to get a sense of how much you have to practice at each level of the new step that you want to learn. Make this your mantra: REPITITION, REPITITION, REPITITION or…..if you prefer…..PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!!

Summary of First Step
Practice the New Material without Music
Practice the New Material with several different partners
Evaluate the feedback you receive from your partner (focus on movements)
Improve what you need
Practice to see if your improvements produce results
At this point in class, we would then practice doing the step to music…..preferably instrumental. It is much easier to hear the beat that you dance to if there aren’t vocals being sung. Besides, if you like the song, you’ll be tempted to sing along and then you’re dead in the water!

A moderate tempo is best. If it’s too fast a song, then you’ll be under more pressure to remember all that your practice taught you without enough time do so. When music is very slow, it requires more skill to sustain the movements and phrase them to the music…….this is also additional stress that can be avoided. It’s important to develop confidence in what you can do…..and you want to do it automatically without thinking too much about it. The difference between where you are learning and practicing and going public is similar to the difference between learning to drive in a car with 2 sets of brakes (for student and instructor) and a quick jaunt on a busy freeway.

Summary of Step 2
Practice initially to instrumental versions of songs
Step up or slow down the speed of your practice music when you can move smoothly
Take your show on the road
Have a great time — you’re no longer sitting in your seat and watching the fun!

There are many additional hints that I can offer but you probably don’t want to read a book at this point, do you?

Let me make you this offer.  If you have questions about anything you read at this website, feel totally free to contact me and I will answer you. Realize that there are probably hundreds of other people who have the same questions…….they’re just too hesitant to ask. You can ask your question in the “comments” area of my blog or by email, whichever you prefer.

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