What I’d like to do now is talk about the necessary skills that you’ve acquired and what you see is essential for every aspiring dancer when it comes to using dance as personal development. What would you say is the first skill every aspiring dancer needs to acquire in order to use dance as personal development?
Would you know little bit more about that?
Some people say they want to dance. For instance, when a movie comes out about dancing, the young people especially, say “Oh we’ve got to learn to dance.” That’s great. So they register for a dance class. Some time ago a couple of dance-themed movies came out and that exact thing happened. Students were all excited. They came to the first class, but when they found out it was going to take a little work, many of them simply didn’t come back. They expected to just go to a class and suddenly be able to dance. Somehow coming back and practicing wasn’t what they had in mind. So you have to show up and continue showing up. And you have to be willing to put forth the effort that it takes.
You need a stronger desire to dance than just trying to keep up with the newest trends.
I think you need a stronger desire to dance than just trying to keep up with the newest trends. Also, it certainly helps if you understand a little about music. I have had classes where the students were doing pretty well with their patterns, but none of them were dancing to the music.
For example, one time a student brought in a CD of what he said was “waltz” music that he wanted me to use. When a student brings music for me to use for class, I always test it outside of class. It’s a good thing I did because this “waltz” music he brought was all foxtrot music. He had not learned the difference. So we had a lesson on how to tell waltz from foxtrot music.
If students only learn the patterns and don’t understand the music at all, then I haven’t done my job of teaching them to dance. However, many times, students come in just to learn how to get on the dance floor for one specific event and don’t care to know more about music and those things that will make a good dancer. As much as that hurts, sometimes I have to let it go and teach them what they want. Trying to get too detailed with those students can cause them to not want to continue dancing. Again, I need to learn their agenda first so I can help them with what they want.
I do teach many students who just want to get on the dance floor and move around with music in the background. Though I would like every student to be right on time with every song they dance to, and dance appropriately to the music, I realize that is not going to happen. I teach many people who simply want to be able to move around the dance floor. They may just want to go to a party or a wedding reception or on a cruise and be able to dance a little bit.
One retired military officer and his wife came to class every year just before their annual officer’s dinner/dance. They just wanted to brush up on the basics so they could dance at that event. I don’t think they danced at all the rest of the year. One father of the bride came only to learn how to dance the Father/Daughter dance at her wedding. He had no plans to ever dance again but didn’t want to embarrass his daughter on her wedding day.
Everyone won’t become fantastic dancers. Those who are serious about dancing and want to learn what it takes to be a good dancer will continue taking lessons and will learn about music, timing, body movement as well as the dance material. If you are willing to be corrected and practice and work at it, you will enjoy the achievement of being a good dancer.
Many students just want to dance a little and have fun at one event. All are welcome on the dance floor, and I enjoy teaching dancers at all these levels.
Do you also find that peopl
Yes, a lot of times that’s true. And those people do have more difficulty learning to dance.
Another question, have you noticed a tendency with the current generation to want things immediately and don’t appreciate the effort that it takes over months and years to acquire a skill. Have you noticed a difference from those you taught say 25 years ago?
Yes I do. People, especially young people, don’t want to spend the time and they don’t listen. I don’t offer teen classes anymore. I used to teach teenage dance classes. But now, if they don’t get it the first 20 minutes they hang it up and are done with it. They’re back to their phones. The same often happens with adults. It’s a busy hurry-up world in business and when they don’t catch on right away, they often frequently get discouraged. Becoming a dancer takes work, just like every other activity.
Now you mentioned th
Why do they need to stick with it?
It’s like anything in life. Adults and young people live in an instant gratification world these days. I like my students to be able to be successful. For most of my beginning classes I can get them on the dance floor dancing right away. Instructors teach differently, but I want my students moving the first class so they can say “I’m Dancing!”
For those who come at the last minute before a cruise, a big party or dinner dance or right before the wedding reception, I do want them to be able to get out on the dance floor and at least be able to dance a bit. Of course if they come early enough to spend some time learning the material and how to lead and follow, they’ll be able to get up and dance and feel more comfortable.
If they want to dance well – proper frame, proper foot positions, proper rhythm and everything else, it takes a while. It takes time to learn how to do that.
But if all they want is to just get on the floor and be able to move, then I can help them do that too. As long as they understand that there’s a difference in being able to dance well and look good compared to just getting on the dance floor and moving around.
I had one couple who came to a beginning ballroom class two weeks before going on a cruise. Of course they expected to be able to dance on the cruise, so I got them moving with a couple of patterns they could do on a small dance floor. They were both tall and elegant and looked good as they danced the basics. When they returned from their cruise they were very excited. They had received so many compliments on their dancing that they wanted to continue taking more lessons. They had just danced a couple of basic patterns, but they did them well, with good posture and great smiles, and it worked for them.
Attitude that determines success.
When intermediate dancers – say they’ve been dancing ten years – some of the beginners get discouraged and don’t even want to come back to class. Others say “Well, guess I’d better get busy working on my dancing.” It’s attitude that determines success. The difference is between the attitude of people who are clearly going to put in the effort to be successful and the people who just want a quick win and are not interested in spending the time developing their skills.
Music is another issue. If they need to learn how to find the beat in the music, I suggest they go home and listen to some oldies music without dancing. Just listen to the music and try to find the beat. Or they can do so while driving. One caution if they are driving ~ they need to be careful that their feet aren’t moving to the music and remember to keep their feet on the pedals.
Remember: “Practice makes Permanent”
Some people will want to do the extra work that will help them learn more quickly and some people will leave class and not think about it until the next time they walk in the classroom door. That’s okay, but I remind everyone that “Practice makes Permanent”. I don’t want them practicing dance material if they’re practicing it wrong. It takes longer to fix it than it does start over.