How Do I Get Started With Ballroom Dance Lessons?

Answer:  Without question, the best way to start with ballroom dance lessons is to learn in a dance studio.  As easy as it may seem, dancing can, unfortunately, be miscategorized as an activity that is only for those born with “dance skill”, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The road to ballroom dance skills begins with finding a studio, scheduling an appointment, and taking your first steps onto a dance floor, and into a world much more accessible than you may have once thought.

ballroom-dance-lessons-location.jpgReputation over Convenience

When looking for the right dance studio, it is essential to find one that has a great reputation, first and foremost.  Sites like Yelp, and Google Reviews, make that much easier and more accessible than ever.  While it may be easy to go with an option that is close to your home or office, a reputable school that is a further drive will create a much better experience in the long run, than a convenient school that isn’t.

Compare this to your favorite restaurant, a great hair salon, or your favorite kid-friendly museum – there are places that are worth the drive because they deliver a memorable experience.

Being Real About Resources

No amount of alcohol, faking it, or “feeling the music” can take the place of instruction from a professional instructor in a reputable dance studio. Unfortunately, many of these situations have to be experienced, in embarrassing fashion, for corrections to be made.

If this were a game of golf, driving a car, or cooking a meal for dinner guests – the same advice would be true.  There’s a reason why there will always be some that struggle with any given activity, and that reason usually was the result of a decision to dismiss the idea of lessons.

The Truth About Dance Videos

There are resources like manuals and videos, but instruction works best when it is a collaborative and interactive process.  Beginning with consistent private lessons will develop a foundation in your dance skills, and muscle memory to make them an eventual habit.

ballroom-dance-lessons-greeting.jpgA Test to Add Value

Since ballroom isn’t an activity that people generally grow up doing, it’s important to try out a lesson before making any purchasing decisions. Any product, not just ballroom dance lessons, has no value if you lack interest or experience in it.  This is precisely why most studios will start with a complimentary lesson.  So you, the prospective student, can see and feel the value first hand before making any commitment of time or resources.

The First Steps

Your first steps into your first dance lesson may take a bit of courage.  It’s a new activity, and it may have all the same adrenaline spiking attributes as walking in to your first day of a new job, a new gym, or a new school.  As is the case with most things outside of your comfort zone, there are internal rewards for crossing the physical threshold of your chosen dance studio.


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5 Advantages to Learning How to Dance On Your Own-by Chris Lyman

The 5 Advantages of Learning How to Dance On Your Own

There are times where patience is a virtue, and times when you’ve got to keep on truckin.  Whether you have been waiting for someone to learn with you, or you’re just looking for your entry point into this fun and healthy hobby – it’s time to make things abundantly clear.

Learning to dance on your own has some great advantages.   Here are 5.

1.  Your Own Pace

Imagine if you, and your entire office, hired one personal trainer.  As noble as it may seem to get you and your colleagues in shape, you’d be stuck working towards an average goal, instead of a specific one.

Advantage:  Learning on your own allows you to work on your dance journey at a pace that is specific to you and your learning style.  

2.  Your Own Role

In social dancing, you are either focusing on being a Leader or a Follower.  Much like Offense and Defense in football, each role has its own, specific skills to make it work.  Adding another person/role to the lesson splits the focus on developing that role.

Advantage:  Learning on your own allows you to focus in on your specific role in social dancing.

3.  Personal Hobby

Social Dancing can be enjoyed as a hobby, with or without a partner.  In some cases, there are those with spouses who don’t like the idea of dancing, and may never will, but have plenty of hobbies of their own.  A hobby doesn’t always have to be a shared activity, just like a favorite style of movie, or food.  It can be a personal preference, and should be something that is fulfilling.

Advantage:  Hobbies don’t have to be shared activities.  

4.  Exercise

The most physically active types of lessons are those where the teacher is dancing and teaching the student one on one.  There are fewer stops in the action, and the professional will ensure that the student is always pushing past their dancing, and fitness, comfort zone.

Advantage:  Learning one on one delivers the best possible fitness results with dancing.

5.  Motivation

Let’s say you are interested in learning, but your spouse isn’t.   Nothing, and we mean nothing, will motivate a resistant spouse to dance more than if their other half starts taking lessons.  It’s the ultimate way to call their bluff, to show them that it isn’t just some whimsical idea, and that you’re perfectly willing to go it alone if necessary.

Advantage:  Starting on your own may be the best way to motivate a hesitant, and potential, dance partner.  

Final Thought

Ballroom Dancing can go by different names – social dancing, touch dancing, or dancesport – but the name that can throw many people off is “partner dancing”.

It’s easy to assume that this requires someone to have a partner to begin dance lessons, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Athletes begin to learn their skill before they are ever on a team.

Most singers begin singing far before they join a band.

So why should dancing be any different?  A great dancer will learn how to dance, and then choose to have a dance partner.  No partner, no problem.  Your hobby is waiting for you, and you’ve waited long enough.


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6 Reasons Why You Should Compete

Is it really necessary to step onto a beautiful dance floor at some competition and compete? Hmm, good question.

Many DanceSport virgins wonder why they should take the plunge into ballroom dance competitions. “Social dancing is so fun!” they recite while trying to resist the draw of the rhinestones and hair gel.  I’m probably preaching to the choir, but let’s list out the reasons everyone should compete so we can prove to our accountants why we write off our DanceSport competitions under “mental health expenses” and “education costs”.

1.   Ballroom dance competitions are a positive experiences.

Studies have proven that experiences make people happier than possessions. And let’s face it, if you love competing like most of us do, you don’t have a lot of possessions other than bottles of self-tanner and suede-soled shoes.

2.   You’re surrounded by people who love doing the same thing as you.

Instead of feeling competitive, remember: you don’t have to explain to anyone in this room why you needed to get up at 4:30am to do your hair or why being on DWTS is not your ultimate goal.

3.   The energy of the event.

Whether it’s the nervous kind or the excited kind, unless you’re a stone-hearted, brain-dead fool, you are going to be excited when you’re there. And that feel-good glow will last you into the next work week, at least.  Which leads us to number 4…


(*included with your registration fee) You will be happier. Woohoo!

5.   Like you needed MORE motivation to get better?

Whether you think of a DanceSport competition as a progress check or a short-term goal or a long-term goal, having a date X to have achievement Y complete is a great kick in the pants.

6.   Great music and great floor.

All the music is the perfect tempo; the floor is big and uncrowded.  How often do you get those conditions at the local dance club social?

Author: Kate Bratt – Riot & Frolic
Exclusively for Dance Comp Review

6 Steps To Improving Your Dancing for Your Next Competition

6 Steps To Improving Your Dancing for Your Next Competition

Most dancers want to dance as well as they can. We take lessons, practice and care for our bodies as part of doing so. Sometimes we think that preparing for a competition requires the same things, perhaps just more of each. The truth is, preparing for a competition has one additional requirement – A Plan.

PHASE 1 – The Assessment

The best preparation for any competition starts right after the last competition. This is because your self-assessment will be most relevant then.

  1. Give yourself a little time to relax and reflect on what you enjoyed in the competition experience before you start to focus on your performance.
    • Some people only need a few hours a few for this, most people need just a day, some people need more.
    • This timing certainly does not mean that you will stop reflecting on your enjoyment, it just means you will also start your planning based on what you learned.
  2. The first thing to do is critical, but is very often forgotten. It is to honestly and clearly list everything that you did very well.
    • The list could be on paper, or verbally with your partner and/or coach.
    • The reason why it is important is that anything that does not get attention gets weaker over time.
    • Every competitor has some strengths. Make sure that you acknowledge them and put some conscious effort into maintaining and enhancing them so they do not become weaknesses as you work on other things.
  3. Then, list the things that felt uncomfortable to you, or did not look strong in your video.
    • Once you have listed them, check which of these four areas they fall into, choreography, form, technique or style.
    • Choreography – could be forgotten or awkward choreography. It could also be choreography that you had planned to change after the comp. Just do not get into a trap of blaming difficult choreography for problems that are caused by your form, technique or style, or thinking that flashier choreography will cover up problems in those areas.
    • Form – is really just the word we are using here to refer to the foundational elements of technique. Balance, coordination, partnering, posture, timing, hold, and foot positions. We separate this group because without each of these elements, the next level of technique will still not be enough to make you look your best, and may not even be possible.
    • Technique – is what we referring to as the specific elements of foot and leg action, shape, weight shift, body orientation, body action, power, and even floorcraft.
    • Style – includes musicality, arm-styling, presentation, audience engagement plus your own intangibles.

PHASE 2 – The Plan

  1. Develop your plan.
    • Issues related to form, really should be at the top of the list.
    • The only thing you might want to do at the same time as focusing on form is making any adjustment in choreography, and only if it is absolutely necessary make a change. The reason to attend to choreography early is to allow you to practice your form within the choreography you will actually use – Please note that unless the choreography is awkward or inappropriate for the level of dancer, it is it is generally better to maintain your choreography while you deal with issues of form.
    • Technique would be next and will reinforce good form.
    • Style is very important for every level of dancer, but will rarely be the only thing in your plan, unless you are an advanced and very proficient dancer.
  2. Schedule your plan
    • The first part of your plan should be laser focused on addressing the top 1-2 things on your list. If you master these, and have time, then address others.
    • The next part of your plan should be spent making sure that your new skills are integrated seamlessly into your routine. Start and stop as you need to, video tape yourself. Make sure all the bugs are out and transitions are smooth.
    • If you have the time and inclination, you may also go back and forth between these first two phases as you master one skill, and before you start working on another.

PHASE 3 – Rounds

  1. The final phase of your preparation is specific competition preparation with repetition, stamina building, and confidence building by practicing competition rounds
    • Rounds are important for everyone – For your first competition, you can also start the assessment and plan noted here with a session of practice competition rounds at the point when you know your routines, feel good about your dancing.
    • The more similar the rounds are to a real competition the better, so if it is set up in a studio with other couples on the floor at the same time, great!
    • Even if is just with you and your partner, still do not skip the steps. Set up real competition music to play in the correct sequence, for at least 90 seconds a song — You could also have songs playing longer to allow 3-4 repeats of your routines. This really builds stamina and confidence, and makes the 90 second song of a comp feel like a breeze.
    • Do your entrance and exits as you would in a competition, and if you make a mistake, continue as you would in an actual competition.
    • In the day or two right before a competition, focus on your strengths and your confidence. After the competition, begin again to focus on your assessment and plan, to get ready for the next one.

Author: Miss P [Celebrate DanceSport]
Exclusively for Dance Comp Review

Back-Leading: What is it, and How Leaders Deal With It

Back-Leading: What is it, and How Leaders Deal With It


Back-leading is likely the single biggest challenge leaders can expect from their partners on the dance floor, simply because it’s so difficult for followers to give up control over where they move. It happens when a follower anticipates what the leader is going to do next, and moves before they are led. It may also take the form of sudden resistance to a step they aren’t familiar with. While it might be tempting to engage in a tug-of-war with your partner for control of the dance, there are other (much more productive) ways a leader can respond.

Consider going with it!

In some dances, like argentine tango and west coast swing, a follower can make ‘suggestions’ or even outright ‘hijack’ the movement. This is fine, as long as they don’t lead the majority of steps, and you can actually make the dance more fun by going along with it.

Avoid the step.

Your partner may be trying to steer you away from moves they don’t know, or might aggravate a past injury. If they seem to back-lead more on certain types of moves – dips for example, or multi-spins, you might want to just avoid those steps entirely.

Make sure you’ve balanced your partner properly.

Your partner might be back-leading – or they might be trying to keep their balance. When you dance, shift your weight 100% from one foot to another on every step, and make sure your partner is doing the same.

Increase the assertiveness of your lead.

Many followers fall into back-leading if they aren’t feeling enough lead themselves. So tighten up that frame, increase the pressure slightly, and make sure you never ‘leave your arms behind’ on any movement. They should move with your body, as one unit.

Gently let your partner know.

If your partner is still not getting the message, you might need to tell them, delicately, that they need to wait for you. This can range from a simple ‘would you mind waiting a bit longer for my lead?’ to the more risky but humorous ‘tell you what, you can lead the next one, what do you say?’

(Practice) Have them close their eyes.

If your partner is someone you practice with regularly, and the floor is not crowded, suggest they close their eyes while you dance. This forces them to rely completely on the pressure through your frame, instead of guessing the movement from what they see. Stick with the patterns you know best while trying this – no dips!

(Advanced dancers only!) Be creative!

This doesn’t work for everybody, but in my lessons, I’ve found it to be a good way to teach your partner not to anticipate if all else fails. Look for places where they tend to back-lead, like a spot turn. Then throw in a variation the next time you try it! Make sure it still meshes with the movement, and don’t sacrifice your technique. Will she be surprised? Very likely. Will she be more patient next time in case you try it again? Definitely!

Author: Ian Crewe – SocialBallroom.Dance
Cover Photography: Anna Lebiedzińska
Exclusively for Dance Comp Review