Wednesday, May 5, 2010

10 Basic Tips for Beginning Dancers

  1. Warm up: Sounds like advice for exercise, right? Well, dancing is a form of exercise, and you need to stretch those muscles a bit before hitting the dance floor. When you come to dancing cold, your muscles will tend to be tight, and this could lead to a sprain or pulled muscle. You don't want that, so warm up a little by stretching. It shouldn't take long. About five minutes. For better results, try a little stretching at home even on the days you aren't dancing; this will keep your body limber and ready to dance.
  2. Find the beat: This is especially important for the leader dancer in a couple, traditionally the male. Don't just jump into a dance and start swinging and kicking. Wait for the beat. Tap your toes if you have to. When it comes around again, start on the first beat (or the "one" count as it's often called). This will help you and your partner swing into action without looking clumsy, or worse, falling down.
  3. Have patience: This one is usually for the ladies. If you are waiting for the lead partner to find the beat, don't try to rush him. Let him find it. When he does, the two of you stand a much better chance of dancing in tune with not only the music, but with one another.
  4. Practice, practice, practice: Even when you're away from dance class, it never hurts to get in a little extra practice. If you don't have a partner available, you can still walk through the steps yourself. This will help to improve your movements and your timing. If you happen to get a night dancing with your partner, whether at home or out at a social gathering, make the most of it and show everyone else what you've learned. You'll look all that much better, and more prepared, at the next dance class.
  5. Work on your posture: You should stand up straight. You want your shoulders back and down slightly, and make sure to keep your head up. Posture is very important to dance. If you have good posture, your chances of being a good dancer will skyrocket.
  6. Don't rush your technique: You've learned one move or one dance and think you're ready to move on to the next one. Are you sure? Maybe, maybe not. But it never hurts to keep working on your technique for a particular dance or move. You want it to come naturally to you, and to appear natural to those watching. If you're still a little stiff or unsure, you have more work to do. Don't try to learn too much too quickly.
  7. Be gentle with others, and yourself: This is especially important for the lead dancer in a couple, but is still important for all dancers. If you are taking someone else's hand, do so gently. Don't grab that hand and squeeze it! Not only is it rude, but it can be painful, and that's no way to begin a dance. If you have to place your partners hands on your shoulders or back, again, be gentle about it. Take it slow. Don't rush yourself or the other person. Remember, you don't want your dancing to be forced and unnatural.
  8. Don't lose your cool: Remember, you're a beginning dancer. You're going to make mistakes. Your partner is going to make mistakes. Heck, even professionals sometimes make mistakes. If you notice someone mess up, or if you mess up, don't make a big deal out of it. Don't even point it out. The person knows. And it's the dance instructors job, not yours, to point out where corrections need to be made. Go with the flow and keep everything calm and cool. This will lead to more enjoyable dancing, promise.
  9. Keep eye contact: This will help you and your partner to know what each other is doing. Really. It works. In fact, it works better than looking down at one another's feet. If the two of you are looking down, you're probably just going to bump heads. And you're footing is likely to be off. By not watching your feet, you're allowing yourself more natural movements. Yep, it takes practice, but you'll get there.
  10. Watch others: This can only help you go so far, but it might be a good idea to rent some DVDs of professional dancers to see how they do things. Or maybe talk to your dance instructor about attending a class more advanced than your own, but only as an observer.

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