5 Tips To Gain More From Your Group Class

If we had to choose one method for learning how to dance, and dance well, it would be private lessons.  No doubt:  Signed, Sealed, and Delivered.  However, if we were selecting the most effective system for learning how to dance, it would be the Arthur Murray unit system.  That is:

Private Lesson + Group Classes + Practice Session

This article focuses on the middle child of the three – the group.

Unfortunately, like a middle child, sometimes the group can get overlooked.

The reality is that attending class sessions, even just one per week, can make a huge difference in your dance progress.  So here are 5 tips to get the most out of group classes.

1. Arrive Ready To Learn Something new.

When you come in for a group or workshop don’t worry about what dance is being taught.


You can’t learn anything, no matter who is teaching, if you decide not to.  A great way to practice this idea is to:

  • Try a group in a dance that’s unfamiliar to you
  • Try a group with a teacher you don’t normally work with
  • Invest in a Master Class from a visiting coach

2. Change partners often: The more the better.

I’ll let you in on a little secret,

“Teachers are not naturally more talented than students.  We just dance more often, and with more partners. That versatility is created by dancing with so many different types of people.”

When you rotate partners, you are constantly making tiny adjustments in your leading or following to the person you are dancing with.  This is something you can get in large quantities in our group sessions.  This will sharpen your leading, following, and dance adaptation skills.

3. Focus on fundamentals

Remember this:  “Perfect practice prevents poor performance”

Add this: “You can’t learn an advanced technique while doing an advanced pattern.”

Focusing on the fundamentals:

  1. Strengthens your dancing
  2. Fast tracks your technique
  3. Improves the chances of you talking and dancing at the same time
  4. Is fun.

You can find these in group sessions.  Too many advanced students, however, avoid classes that focus on fundamentals.  Unfortunately for them, all of the advanced patterns they are looking for include the fundamentals they are avoiding.

So, if you’re in the rumba group and you already know the pattern.. that’s a bonus!  This is your perfect opportunity to practice that pattern with the best Cuban Motion, the best posture, or the best lead or follow.

4. Take Some Dance Notes

No matter what group you take, you can’t remember everything you learned.  So after the class, or workshop, is over – take some dance notes:

  • Some key focal points from the class
  • Questions you have for your teacher to follow up with

You can easily do this on your phone or tablet, or you can do it old school, like me, and keep a dance notebook.  (Taking great Dance Notes is encouraged for all activities in the Arthur Murray Unit System).

5. Measure and Repeat

Following up is important.

Having a strategy to do that is even more important.  Here’s what I do:

DanceProgressBarTake a look at the material you were introduced to in the group session.

Put it on a difficulty scale from 1-5.

  • Simple = 1-2
  • Moderate = 3
  • Challening = 4-5

Material in the 1-2 range can be practiced at the practice party.

Material at a 3 you should practice with teacher supervision.

Material in the 4-5 range needs to be followed up with on your private lessons.  It may seem challenging, but they are just your “ah ha” moments in development. I love it when this happens.

Following up with your teacher on the group material is as important as following up with your doctor on medication you’re taking:  They need to hear about it.

In Closing

Instead of something neglected, imagine if you treated your group class as something different?  What would happen if you treated it as the glue that held your unit together?  Whether it is to practice fundamentals, improve the way you take notes, or add more zest to your private and party sessions – the group class will no longer be your forgotten middle child.”


Thank you to:
For the great blog entry