- “It looks like so much fun!”
- “I love the music!”
- “I HAVE to know how to do this and impress my friends”
- “If he can dance with so many hot girls, so can I!”
- “Look at these great shoes! I want to dance in these shoes! “
So you started taking classes, picked up a few moves from YouTube, tried club classes, and left right after that. But it wasn’t enough to get good. Why? Social dance is simply an integral part of your dance education. Let’s say you don’t want to become a professional dancer, so don’t try to “train” it, just for fun. Hopefully everyone joins in for fun as most people don’t get paid to do it. BUT Salsa, Bachata and Cha Cha are primarily danced with a partner. What does what SHE doing affects someone else. When you don’t have time, rough as a leader, lazy as a henchman, SHE affect someone else’s experience. Because of this, it is important to care how YOU move. If you don’t want that kind of responsibility then go for a partnerless dance genre where you can go wild and not hurt anyone with your fabulous solo work 😜
While the locals in many Latin American countries grew up with the music and culture, most non-Latin Americans learned to dance outside of their home country through formal classes. One of the greatest advantages of classes is feedback and practice with different people to prepare you for the social dance floor. Here is the order of the operation:
STEP 1 – Take group classes and / or private lessons to learn to dance and get feedback from trusted teachers.
STEP 2 – Go to a social / practice session / club and put these moves into practice. Start building a sensitivity for leading / following others. Adjust, review, improve. Have fun and meet new people along the way.
While Step 1 alone doesn’t usually build great dancers and takes the time to learn basics forms the basis for great dancing. And getting feedback is extremely valuable if you want to improve. You will find that all levels, even world champions and seasoned social dancers, have trainers to help them become smoother movers, more musical and clearer than lead / followers.
step 2 is the next essential part of a dancer’s progress to greatness. What you learn has to be put into practice. Mistakes are made, and that’s fine. It’s part of the journey and every dancer will go through it (pretty much forever). This is not a calculus homework. There is no “one” right answer. It’s about discovering your voice as a dancer who is as unique as you are. First of all, remember that Latin American dances are meant to be danced SOCIALLY. This is the best! You will meet people, make new friends, laugh, connect and feel a sense of freedom that you have never felt before. It takes time and practice to feel the essence of each dance style and find its voice. There will be bumps along the way, but the results will be worth it!
Here are 5 ways ballroom dancing can help you become a better dancer.
- IT TESTS YOUR SKILLS
As with any new skill, mastering this required time requires real practice time. One of the great things about Salsa, Bachata, or Cha-Cha dancing is that practicing is FUN! I’ve had students who wanted to wait until they got really good before trying to do ballroom dancing. Reality check … it won’t happen that way. Dancing with the same people who all know your moves / following people whose moves you know will limit you. Great dancers are skilled at dancing with anyone – remember, it’s not about the “moves”. Musicality and connectedness can lead a dance in many directions and the really “free” will use their well-rehearsed technique to play and dance “out of the box”.
- IT DEVELOPS YOUR MUSICALITY (WHEN YOU OPEN YOUR EARS)
Dancing is not just about “what you do” but “when” and “how” you do it. A common trait of great dancers is musicality (the “when”). Exposure to a wide variety of music will definitely help your musicality. It’s one thing to listen to a lot of music in the car or at home.It is a different matter to react to the music with your body. Take the time to open your ears to hear and feel the taste of Fit, the instrumentation, its mood, its soul. Instead of just using music as a metronome, be an active music listener. Then learning to move with the music can greatly improve one’s musicality. And by dancing with others and watching others, you can discover new ways of listening to music and expressing yourself musically.
- IT OFFERS AN OUTLET TO EXPRESS YOURSELF
Dance is an art form. And there are endless ways to express yourself with music. Social dance exposes you to the styles of others in partner work, footwork, styling or playfulness! In everyday life, many of us may feel constrained by “rules”, be it at work or at home. Dancing gives us the chance to relax (so to speak) and move to music that inspires us!
- IT HELPS TO DEVELOP BETTER BODY MOVEMENT
The ironic thing about having “natural” Latin American body movements is that not everyone is that “natural”. Often it is the result of over-thinking, trying to be “perfect,” or simply a lack of body awareness. Fortunately, the technique can be learned. Street dances arise in response to “time”, culture and the innate need of humans to express themselves physically through rhythms and melodies. Learning about music, instruments, culture, and history can help develop this “natural” Latin movement. Social dance is an opportunity to apply movement to music and helps develop your stylistic identity (which, by the way, will constantly evolve as you grow as a dancer).
- IT WILL HELP YOU TO DISCOVER YOURSELF
That sounds kind of choppy, but … like our sense of fashion, our sense of humor, our way of speaking, we all have our own style of dancing. We are influenced by who taught us, what we see regularly, our music and stylistic preferences. And it’s something that is usually discovered on the social dance floor after many hours of fun (practice) dancing. Enjoy the process. Be a sponge and learn from teachers whose style you admire and who have the skills to teach you.
Get Social Dance ASAP for inspiration for what’s to come. Being in an environment where there are others who also love to dance can further heat your fire for dancing. Feel the mood of Latin American dance culture and benefit from the social nature inherent in Latin American dances. Look, admire, soak up and enjoy! Watching can be fun, but dancing is even more fun! #LetYourBodySpeak