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6 Secret Tips to Increase your Social Dance Ability

Who I am

My name is Clint Steele and like you I am a social dancer. I started later in life and for that reason I had to find a way to get good at dance fast so that I could catch up with other dancers. As well as being a social dancer, I have an interest in the way people learn and become better at what they are trying to master. I have spent the past years researching and trying techniques that can be used by anyone to become a better dancer.

In the process of doing this I discovered that there are many things you can do to become better, but these are unknown to almost everyone in the social dance scene.

I am going to share the essence of what I have learned here with you now.

Build your Attributes

The most significant lesson I have learned when it comes to being the kind of dancer that you wish to be as that there is no such thing as a natural. This is an important thing to keep in mind. Many people will at one time assume that they are not meant to be dancers and that others are naturals. This can kill motivation.

Here’s the truth:

People who dance well, have been practicing – even if they don’t admit it – and those who seem to become good dancers quickly have done other things earlier that help them dance.
What you need to be a good dancer is the right attributes. If you have those, then the rest will fall into place:

1. Musicality

If you are like me, then you took on dance despite having no idea about music. If timing is an issue for you, then focus on music. Get some of the music that you dance to and just keep playing it. I almost had to listen for 8 hours straight before all of a sudden I could start hearing the beat.

Play your music as often as you can and really listen to it. Don’t just have it on in the background – but that is good to do as well – really try to break it down into each element of sound. As you do this, you will begin to detect the beats. Then the first beat of each bar, then first bar and the second bar, then the phrases.

Once you can do this – you will have the timing you need.

2. Physicality

You have probably noticed that the good dancer also seem to move well when they are doing simple things like walking. Dance is good for the body. However, unless you are dancing all day every day, you will not develop this physicality.

Instead, you need to engage in exercises that will develop the kind of bodies that dancers have.

Consider some of the following:

· Gym classes

· Joining a sports team

· Yoga

· Pilates

· Aerobics

Engaging in something that will work your body (ideally all of your body and everything from strength to flexibility) will accelerate your body’s development. You will then better able to learn proper dance movement. You will then do you figures better and look better on the dance floor.

3. Confidence

If you don’t feel good going out on to the dance floor, then you will not enjoy it as much and you will not dance as well as you could.

Do you ever feel worried when dancing; worried others will watch you and judge you; worried that you will let your dance partner down; worried you will forget figures or dance out of time?

Worrying about such things can kill your confidence and your dance ability.

Here are some things to help with confidence:

1. Assume the dancer’s posture – just as a lack of confidence will give you slumped shoulders and poor posture, it can go the other way. Standing upright in proper posture will make you feel better. You can also control this yourself. Assume the posture and confidence will flow. As you do this again and again, you will make it habit and you will feel better.

2. Remember that no one is looking at you – they’re looking at their phones.

There are many other things that you can do to boost confidence, but the above 2 are the quickest and easiest that give you real benefits.

3. Remember that your dance teacher is likely more dancer than teacher.

Most dance teachers are chosen for their ability to dance – or how attractive they are or their basic affability. The ability to actually teach is not well understood by many and can be evaluated by even fewer.

Teaching is a skill, but many treat it as an art. Thus if you have a good teacher, then you are probably lucky.

However, you can correct for this. You want to be a self-regulated learner. You can probably do a better job of working out what you need from a teacher to be able to improve your dance ability. If you feel that your teacher has not explained something in the right way, then ask a question that will encourage your teacher to explain things in the way you wish.

Some examples:

· Where do I feel that in my body?

· What count is that on?

· What happens if I do not do that?

· Is that a smooth transition or do I pause?

· Is this to make it easier or to make it look good?

· Is this part led or is it now what the follow should do after a lead

The above questions are only examples, but you can see that they are investigative. They help you, and your teacher, dig deeper so that you can get the explanation you need.
Don’t assume you need to get everything from your teacher. You can go to workshops on physicality, musicality, presentation, and so on. These will give you some extra pointers and also guides on the extra questions you can ask of your teacher.

Finally, the above might seem like it is for one on one classes, but it is equally valid group classes as well.

4. It’s all made up, but there are rules.

Some people stress so much about doing a dance the right way (maybe according to some approving body or the tradition of some place in the world) that they forget to actually learn.
It is important to note that dance is made up and to learn in a manner that is in accordance with that. It is helpful to know when asked to do something if it is because:

· That’s the way the dance is formalised (by a dance society for example).

· It makes the execution easier.

· That’s the style of that school, area or teacher.

By knowing which it is, you will focus on the execution in a manner that is congruent.

It’s also good to decide what your interest is in dance. If you want the formalised version, then you are likely after a school that focuses upon dance sport. If you are interested in being traditional, then you can ask about where and how the teacher learned.
Knowing that dance is made up and working out what you want will let you better focus your efforts and select the right place to learn.

5. It’s one of the best things you can do, but it’s not easy

Mastery of dance will be one of the most rewarding things you can gain. However, it is not always easy. You will have some lessons and other experiences that are not positive. They might kill your motivation for a period. However, we all have them. Don’t let a string of bad experiences chase you from dance or kill your long term dance gaols. Learn from these experiences and carry on wiser.
Often a string of such experiences is you moving from one level of dance to the next. So really, it’s a good thing.

6. Keep in mind It is social

A good dancer is also someone that people like to be around socially.

How would you act if you were going to any other social event? You should probably act like that when dancing too if you wish to be a good dancer.
Even if you want to do dance sport, you need to interact with others (your partner for one). Not only that, social dance is an excellent way to develop your skills early on. Having good social graces will help with that. Here’re some pointers:

· Would you criticise the attendees of a party and compare them to other parties? Probably not so don’t do it at a dance event.

· Would you shower and wear deodorant of some sort at a party? Probably so do the same when dancing – this is especially so for me.

· Would you dress well when going to a party to show respect to the host, yourself and others? Well, do the same when dancing.

Do the above – maybe even think about lifting your game because you get closer to people when dancing than you do at most other social events – and you will be a better dancer.

Taking it further

If you want to drill deeper into some of these ideas, then check out my book full of activities specifically designed to help people like you become a better dancer:

Dance Better Now: The secret to mastering dance and dancing at the excellent standard you want

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Are You Addicted To Dance?

 

Are you addicted to dance? It is a phrase used a lot. Personally I have gone through times where ALL that was on my mind was where I was going dancing next. When I was at college I would save all my EMA (meant to be for books and transport, pah!) for a train ticket and an entry fee. Planning my next trip and whose sofa I was going to crash on during lectures. I know people that dance 6 times a week. I met someone that boasted they had danced 57 nights consecutively. Another had not had a weekend at home for 6 months?!
But as awesome as our hobby is, sometimes this need can take a different  turn. I have a friend who actually was addicted to dance. Well a doctor was involved so that’s as close to an official diagnosis as we are going to get for the moment!
A friend of mine, let’s call them “A”, used to dance every night of the week. That’s fine, when you live in civilization but unfortunately they did not. This meant that in order to keep that monkey on their back happy they had to travel….. A LOT.  “A” would travel to a class 3 hours away on a weekday, do the class, drive home, bed for a few hours, get up and work. “A” would (obviously) feel horrendous at work all day, relying on energy drinks and caffeine to get them through. “A” would get home from work and have a nap. After this, “A” would feel a bit better but still not amazing. How can I feel better? they thought. I know, let’s go dancing again. So off “A” goes on their quest. This is kind of achievable for a one day, but by the time day two rolls around “A” feels rougher than the day before, but all they have on their mind are those endorphin’s. How can they get them? You get the idea.


Natural Spin Dance Shoes & Dance Wear

“A” continued like this for around a month until they had a wake up call in the form of a visit to the doctor after a close shave health wise. The doctor told them to write down their daily routine and diet. It was literally spelt out in front of them what they were doing to themselves, they were ADDICTED TO DANCE! Just to make “A” feel a little better the Doctor also pointed out that due to the extra sleep needed when drinking energy drinks A was having -2 hours sleep a night!
Don’t get me wrong, Dancing is a healthy, exciting way to keep fit and 99.999 % of the time, scratching that itch is sooo good. But I felt like a story of actual addiction needed to be shared!

How far have you taken your dance obsession? Let us know below.

Nick Stephens

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