How to Take a Ballroom Dance Lesson

Published in  
Ballroom Dance
February 21, 2020
Learning new tricks and moves is so much fun! Preparation is the key to unlocking the best possible experience and achieving your goals in everything you do. Taking a Ballroom Dance Lesson is no exception.

Learning new tricks and facts is so much fun! Scientists have found a correlation between learning and brain aging- keep learning every day, and your central processing unit will thank you.

Now imagine combining physical and mental exercise; done to captivating music and, most of all, with someone else- a friend, teacher, your spouse perhaps. Conquering your body and implementing moves that you thought were impossible sparks a great deal of satisfaction, spirit, and mood uplift.

The holy grail that combines all this goodness into one - Ballroom Dance. Keep learning the secrets of this beautiful dance form to stay healthy in the physical, mental, and social aspects.

Prepare to take a Ballroom Dance lesson

Ballroom Dance is a complicated dance form for various reasons, but most of all, because it requires to coordinate your moves with a partner.  Having someone with an experienced eye, on the outside, can significantly help you advance on your journey and save you some frustrations over how to go around your partner in Waltz.

Preparation is the key to unlocking the best possible experience and achieving your goals in everything you do. Taking a Ballroom Dance Lesson is no exception.

Through my experience as a dancer, and now as a teacher, I have found some things quite helpful to make the experience of taking a lesson a breeze. Try them next time you are taking a lesson and let me know how it went.

Be on time

Time is one of the most precious commodities. Nowadays- especially. Our attention is pulled from all sides by a constant stream of external triggers like notifications, phone calls, messages. Making a schedule for everything in your day can impact your productivity immensely and ensure that you tackle all your tasks and show up to all your events on time. Being respectful of someone’s time can send a powerful message.

Have an objective

Studies on human behavior and its physiological effects show that ticking something off your list releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for generating feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction, and happiness.

One of my favorite books Start with Why, taught me to always find the WHY before the HOW. Set out what you want to achieve with each lesson. It can be as simple as- "My partner's hand feels uncomfortable on my back, can we work on the hold for Cha-cha." Whether social dancer or a competitor- have a goal, clear up the confusion, enjoy your time.

Show genuine interest

Walking through the dance studio doors, you have already decided that Ballroom is something that tickles your interest. Taking a Ballroom Dance lesson is a two-way interaction between the teacher and the student. Teachers, on one side, are in it because they are passionate about sharing their knowledge with people and love to dance. The same goes for the student- they love to dance.

It seems like both parties are already on the same page. Often times, teachers are looked at as an authority, and students are "scared" to ask questions because they think it might sound silly. Trust me, I've done it. There is no silly question! If you don't understand something - don't hesitate- ask.

My best advice here is to stay engaged in the lesson, mainly when complicated topics like musicality and technique are discussed. Ask a lot of questions and get into the discussion of “why”.  Everyone learns differently, and the goal is to find a common language in which to transmit information. Hence, the student understands the concepts, and the teacher gains another tool in the arsenal.

Pay attention to detail

Very often in life, the smallest things make the most significant impact. Take a look at bees- without them, we would hardly have anything to eat. Gaining knowledge about a seemingly minor aspect of dance can prove highly useful in your understanding of the bigger picture like bodyweight transfer, shape, or character of the dance.  

One such domain of Ballroom is footwork. Understanding and applying the correct footwork, and also floor pressure can solve a lot of issues for you, such as balance, connection with your partner, rhythm of bodyweight transfer and musicality.

Weekly Inspiration- Crispy Cha- Cha by Ricardo & Yulia

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The Right shoes/ attire

Have you ever been on a hike where your shoes were uncomfortable, and you regretted going in the first place? It is the same in Ballroom Dance. All activities have a different set of mechanics and movements involved in it, to make it what it is.  

In soccer, we kick the ball; in ballet, we relevé on the tippy-toe, in Ballroom we take heel leads, a good fitting shoe should support your foot through those demanding actions and help prevent injury.  Attire is also something to consider. You won't be wearing a tuxedo to a marathon- its too restrictive. Something that you feel comfortable moving in would be your best bet. A pair of nice slacks for the gentlemen and a comfortable stretchy dress for the ladies can save the day.

Be Respectful

Often, higher-level competitors take a lot of lessons with different teachers. Sometimes, the information received contradicts, usually, not on a fundamental level but purely on what I call "packaging" or how the information was presented. Contradiction sparks disbelief or distrust. Listen more, ask questions, and engage in a discussion to find the "why," but don't disregard someone's opinion without trying to understand what they meant.

When taking a ballroom dance lesson, you face the teacher's life experiences, journeys, and knowledge. When you do- treat their knowledge and opinion with respect even if it doesn't align with yours. We all have a set of values and believes, and the beauty of it is that they are ours- unique.  

Summarize the lesson

One of my favorite teaching strategies is to summarize my student's lessons. A simple concept- towards the end of the lesson, I ask them to give me a brief summary of what they learned today. Quite often, that sparks a "thinking moment."  Then, two things happen- when we recall the experience, we solidify the memory of it, then saying it out loud to someone else makes us hear it again; our brain process it and stores it in the long term memory.

The truth is Ballroom is not easy and requires repetition to acquire the skills needed for the body to perform the intricate move.

Have a great time!

Number one priority should be - learning is fun! Repetition to acquire a particular skill can become tiresome, but remember what sparked your interest in Ballroom- probably the beautiful lines and rhythmical interpretations of a good dance couple. It would require hard work, but it doesn't need to be boring; you have to find a way with your teacher to make it fun. Imagine yourself do it like the professionals, imagination helps a ton.

Wrapping it up!

Taking a lesson is an art form on its own. Understanding how to make it most productive and fun at the same time takes some real practice and sometimes trial and error. Remember, a dance lesson is about you; be a little selfish and allow yourself to fully enjoy this beautiful activity.  

Let us know what your best tips for taking a lesson are in the comments below. If you think this could help someone, please share.

Disclaimer: All photography copyrights belong to their rightful owners. Please feel free to contact me for credit.

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