How to Practice Ballroom Dancing Part 2 – So Far
So you have hopefully started with part one of this series – How to Practice Ballroom Dancing. Hopefully, you have started to follow the simple rules which we set out in that first part. If you haven’t yet, I would suggest you stop reading this. Go back to part one, re-read it and start applying the advice. Then, come back and read this second part.
Sounds harsh, doesn’t it?! But the truth is that if you do not get the first part correct, your practice sessions will never work.
How to Practice Ballroom Dancing Part 2 – Now you have completed part one!
So let’s assume that you have now nailed your routine. You don’t need to think about it when you dance. You can recite the routine by memory. And most importantly, you can dance it to full speed music. In order to get there, you probably needed to stop worrying about what it looks like for now? If the answer’s Yes – Hurrah! You’re on the right track. If not, you still haven’t truly completed part one of how to practice ballroom dancing.
Now we need to start working on the technique, style, look and character you want to give your routine. The correct technique is predetermined by the discipline of ballroom dancing but the style should be determined by you and your personality. In theory, if I got 100 different dancers and taught them the same routine, after a month I should see 100 different versions of that routine.
If you’re unsure of the correct technique in your ballroom dancing, you may want to consider joining our theory class. In these Sunday sessions, we focus exclusively on understanding the technique for all standard Ballroom and Latin dances.
A style is yours and yours alone. Your teacher can offer guidance but we want to see your personalities come through the dance. This includes the contrast between power and softness (or what we often call light and shade). It includes how you are going to use your arms and head. Most importantly, it includes how you are going to interact with the audience and with your partner. All these things go into the style and presentation of any dance.
How to Practice Ballroom Dancing Part 2 – How to practice technique
The technique is the most important aspect of any dance. If you attend any of my classes, we have established this time and time again: the basics should always form the foundation of your dancing. The key to practising technique is always to apply it slowly. I see so many people who always practise their dancing at full speed. If the purpose of your practice session is to hone your technique, all you are doing at full speed is reinforcing bad habits. There is a time for speed: when you are learning your routine and committing it to memory. However, the technique requires muscle memory. Muscle memory requires time and patience. Muscle memory is a fascinating thing. At its heart, it involves building up synaptic pathways in the brain. Maybe we’ll talk about this at a later point!
How to Practice Ballroom Dancing – What’s Important!
The most important aspect of your practice at this stage is speed. Not the level of speed you can achieve but the clear absence of speed. My coach used to say to me, in order to work quickly, we need to work wisely. More often than not, this includes slowing down. You won’t see the rapid improvement you are after in your dancing until you learn to slow down.
In the first blog in this series, I gave you a list of steps to follow in your practice. Here is your next set of steps to follow.
- Practice the technique – slowly
- Practice the arms and presentation – slowly
- Practice the head movements – slowly
- Repeat steps 1-3 a little faster
- Repeat steps 1-4 a hundred times
Remember, slowly means slowly. Think of how you can step forward a DVD one frame at a time. Or your favourite TV show when you recorded it on your Sky box. This is how slow you should be moving.
By this time, your routine should be looking pretty good and your performance and technique should be forming. At this point, you can work to bring it back up to full speed ready for your coach to tear you a new one.
If you’re craving some new exciting routines to learn, check out our social or competitive classes. We are always refreshing our routines so there will always be a new challenge for you to take on. Follow us on Facebook for some sneak previews of what our competitors are up to. Not sure which class is right for you? Give us a call.
The next blog in this series will come along in a few weeks’ time giving you plenty of time to continue learning how to practice ballroom dancing.