What is ballroom dancing?
Ballroom dancing, now commonly referred to as partnership dancing, is the discipline of two people expressing a dance through lead and follow. Traditionally, the man is the leader and the lady is the follower.
What dances does it include?
This very broad heading includes many styles of dance such as traditional ballroom, Latin, country western, swing, and Tejano. As one might guess, there is a great variety of music that can be used for partnership dancing, and many people decide what dances they wish to learn based on what kind of music they wish to dance to.
Here are just some of the more popular dances:
- Traditional Ballroom - Fox Trot, Waltz, Swing, Rumba, Tango, Mambo, Bolero, Samba, Cha Cha
- Latin - Merengue, Salsa, Bachata
- Country - Texas Two Step, Triple 2, Waltz, Swing, Polka, Nite Club
- Swing - East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, Hustle, Lindy Hop, Jitterbug
- Tejano - Cumbia, Polka, Waltz
STYLES OF DANCE
Before you begin to study ballroom dancing, you need to know that a fox trot is not necessarily a fox trot. What does that mean? It means that there is a night-and-day difference between a fox trot for the social dance floor and a fox trot danced for competition. Over the years, I have had many students watch DanceSport Championships on television and then remark to me, "You don't see people out at the clubs dancing cha cha like that." My answer is always:
"Well, of course not!"
If your interest in dance is to go out and have fun at clubs, weddings, parties and other social functions, then you want to learn a social style of ballroom dancing. A social style of dance includes patterns that are leadable, practical for limited space, and that can be danced without interfering with other dancers' enjoyment of the dance floor.
Competitive orexhibition-style dance is completely different. It can involve choreography, elaborate arm styling, intricate patterns that require open space, and sometimes even lifts or drops. This style of dancing is totally inappropriate for the social floor.
You should also know that whether social or competition style, a cha cha or waltz or any dance in its advanced level can look entirely different from its basic level.
TYPES OF INSTRUCTION
Learning partnership dancing is much like learning any other sport. It requires time and repetition. It also requires accurate and consistent instruction. These are the types of instructions that I specifically offer. You may find other teachers/studios define their lessons differently.
A private lesson consists of a single student or dance couple and an instructor. It is a great way to go about learning to dance for several reasons. First of all, you will progress much faster because you are working one on one with a professional instructor. Also, you will be concentrating on the specific dances that you are interested in.
Before you make a commitment to taking private lessons, your instructor should assess your needs and interests and design a lesson plan that is personalized for YOU. This is normally done on an introductory or "get acquainted" lesson. An introductory lesson gives the student a chance to try out a lesson and get a feel for the instructor. It is important that you feel comfortable with the instructor's personality, as well as his/her approach to teaching.
Everyone learns differently. The key benefit of private instruction is to have the instructor adapt to your learning style, rather than you adjust to his/her teaching style. CLICK HERE for rates and current specials
Group Class Instruction
In group class instruction you experience learning within a group of students, often trading partners among them. You get the practical application that is not necessarily a part of a private lesson.
The quality of group class instruction is as varied as the group class offerings themselves. Some things to consider when choosing a group class program are
- Is the class being taught to a particular level, i.e. beginner, intermediate, etc.?
- Does the class specify what dances and figures will be taught?
- Will the instructor rotate partners?
- Is the class size limited?
If a class is not specified for a particular learning level, the beginner student will feel overwhelmed, the experienced student will be bored, and the in-between students will feel neglected because all the instructor's attention will go towards helping the beginners catch up and trying to come up with ways to challenge the experienced dancers. Not good!
Ideally, group classes are taught in courses and require students to begin at the onset. The course should have a curriculum with specific outcomes in mind. It should state the specific dance or dances that will be taught and the variations within each dance.
While many couples want to dance only with each other, it is extremely helpful in developing one's lead/follow skills to practice with a variety of partners. This is one of the biggest benefits of group instruction. An experienced group class instructor will use a partner rotation system that will ensure fairness to everyone.
Finally, you should know what size class to expect. Are you going to show up for the first night of class and find yourself in a gymnasium-sized room with 40 other couples? The most amazing instructor on the planet cannot effectively teach dance to a class that size! A reasonable class size will vary depending upon the level of students and the material being taught, but avoid classes that are so large you will not get any attention. CLICK HERE for current schedule of classes
In a semi-private class, a student can experience the ideal balance between private instruction and group class learning. A semi-private class is an instructor working with 2 to 4 dance couples. Like a group class, a semi-private class is taught in a course with a specific agenda of dances, variations and outcomes. Like a private lesson, each student receives individual attention and recommendations for learning better. This is one of my favorite methods of instruction!
A workshop is a single teaching session in which a very specific topic is covered. It is designed to introduce, provide an overview or spark interest in a particular thing. CLICK HERE for current schedule of workshops