Please be patient and understanding with newcomers/beginners – and please ask some of them to dance! Especially if one of them comes alone to a social dance, he/she is likely to feel isolated, so it is up to all of us to make these new dancers feel welcome.
by Joyce Szili
(Washington, DC area)
When taking both group and private lessons, lots of dancers say that they just want to be good social dancers and not competitors, so why do they have to learn proper dance technique?
Without using good dance technique, you don’t become a great social dancer. If you’re not using the correct foot positions or the proper posture, it causes balance problems as well as lead and follow problems. Usually, when a move doesn’t work, it is because of an incorrect body position or some other dance technique problem.
I think that some people confuse technique with showmanship that competitors try to achieve. Learning proper technique makes you more enjoyable to dance with, whether you are a leader or a follower. Good technique makes a dancer look smoother and helps the general flow of the dance.
It’s absolutely true that most of us have busy lives – work, family/children, house, etc., etc. However, somewhere in that busy mix, it’s also important to take – or, for most of us, to MAKE – time for ourselves.
My suggestion for a “resolution” for each of us, this year, is to MAKE some time for yourself. By the very fact that you are receiving/reading this tip, dancing is, an interest (if not a passion) for you.
Sometimes, it’s when you are the very busiest that you need to find or create a balance in your life – so why not balance your life with dance? (And dancing is a lot more fun than going to the gym!)
Throughout the nearly 15 years that I have maintained this website and sent out regular emails, many dance parties are being held less frequently (such as formerly-weekly dances now just monthly) or they have been discontinued entirely. And, although new dance parties have started up, many of those, too, have not been successful.
Therefore, it is VERY important that dancers attend these various dance parties or they will disappear. It is so easy to say to ourselves that we will go next week or next month or “next time.” But that next time could just as easily cease to be if that venue or organizer is not regularly supported.
We all know that this is an especially hectic time of year for many people. Because this is a time of extra stress and, for some, a time of depression, it is especially important to MAKE time for yourself.
You are receiving this email due to your interest in dance, so I suggest that you MAKE time for dancing to reduce stress and/or depression – whether you do so by yourself or with others.
What a perfect time to get out there on the dance floor!
It’s also the perfect time (not that there is a bad time!) to try something new – i.e., a dance style that you have considered, but haven’t previously explored, or one that you might have tried, but you might like to do some more.
At this time of year, many venues/organizers have dinner dances and/or showcases, both of which offer unique opportunities to SIT and chat with other dancers in a social setting.
I especially invite you to browse through the listings to the left and, even more so, to both browse through the listings on the Regular Events and Special Events pages AND to click on the various links for more info.
So – put on your dancing shoes (and some glam clothes) and support the dance community.
Most of us have heard of “styling” workshops or lessons, but have you considered what this means?
It is important to first learn the “vanilla” version of steps or moves. This has less to do with one’s dance level (beginner / intermediate / advanced) and more to do with one’s dance experience.
Styling is personal. While itis valuable to learn some possible styling, ultimately, it is less about mimicking a style that you are taught and more about using personal movements of arm, hand, head, etc. and/or musical interpretation (such as hesitations, holds, sways or speeding up or slowing down some steps in order to allow extra emphasis on fractions of beats within a musical phrase) – all of which can become your own personal expression.
Truly, to me, the definition of “dance” has always been “moving to music.”
At the end of each dance, EACH partner should thank the OTHER one for that dance.
Depending upon how well you know your partner, the “thank you” is usually verbal, but can sometimes be a smile and/or a hand squeeze. If it is verbal, it can be as simple as “Thank you” or slightly more, such as “Thank you for the dance” or “Thank you – I enjoyed dancing with you” (or, in response to the first person’s thanks, an enthusiastic “Thank YOU!”).
If appropriate with a non-regular partner, a follower could say to a leader something like “Great leading!” or “Nice/interesting moves!”; a leader could say to a follower “Great following!” or “You made me look good”; either could say to the other something like “Great frame! ” or “Great connection!”
1. In social dancing, when one or both partners get out of sync with each other or the music or each other, don’t stop dancing. Experienced dancers can hesitate momentarily and restart. For less experienced dancers, I recommend immediately getting into a tight closed position and picking up the beat together in a slow-slow-slow-slow circular pattern, then resuming the dance.
It is only when dancers stop dancing that it seems that all eyes are drawn to them.
2. In social dancing, when one or both partners messes up a lead or a follow, don’t stop dancing and/or get an “I messed up” look on your face – just smile and keep going.
One of the oddest things that I’ve noticed is that, if you get “that look” on your face and/or you stop dancing, everyone seems to notice. However, if you smile and just continue dancing, no one notices!
3. This tip is especially for newer dancers on the social dance floor who are dancing a stationary dance: west coast swing, east coast swing, hustle or any of the Latin dances.
If you are uncomfortable at the thought that anyone not on the dance floor is watching you, the best thing that you can do is to position yourselves next to one of the best couples – spectators will always be watching that other couple, so that you are effectively invisible. A great side benefit? You have the best spot in the room to be watching that other couple!
by Joyce Szili
(Washington, DC area)
Dancing is very much an “in the moment” experience – partner dancing, even more so. The dancers should be concentrating on the music and each other and aware of other dancers on the floor. The follower should be attentive to feeling the lead, the music and making an interpretation of both. The leader should concentrate on feeling the music and his/her partner, proposing the different steps to the follower while doing an artistic interpretation of the music and being alert to the position of the other dancers.
Really, there should be no talking because the mind is occupied in all the other activities as described above. There is no concentration when one is talking, as the intellect follows a conversation.
Chatting while dancing has its place, e.g., catching up with friends whom you only see on the dance floor. But chatting while you’re dancing with a new partner is not a good way to connect and if he or she does not respond to your conversation, then take the hint and “Shut Up and Dance.”