General Dance Discussion > Beginner here, 2 months and a half later. Don't know what to do...

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by macbadoo, Jun 13, 2017.

  1. macbadoo

    macbadoo New Member

    This is going to come off as a rant, since I don't have anyone to talk about dancing in my close circle of friends.

    I have started dancing 2 months ago. It has been fun so far. But I'm having new problems. First and foremost. I suck at dancing. I have bad posture, my lead is almost non-existent, I mess up all the time, still not feeling the music and overall I'm a boring person, so naturally I don't really talk much during classes. I suspect that can be changed with time and dedication but it kills me to know that I'm going to make people unhappy with my attempt. It seems that my "newcomer" status is starting to wear off and I'm finally having dancing partners that show clear discomfort in dancing with me because of my screw ups. It was only a matter of time, patience has it limits anyway.
    The more experienced dancers sometimes give me different explanations on some of the dance moves, saying that I'm doing something wrong, yet, I do the same moves with the teacher and she thinks I'm doing it right.

    The shows we are preparing are right at door. That is not what troubles me. What troubles me is what is going to happen after that. Kizomba is an improvisational dance. How can I improvise if I still don't like the music, yet, I find the dance itself very fun.

    Does anyone else know any style of dancing that, at least at first, hated the style of music?
  2. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member


    Now I love it!!!
  3. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    Tango for me... it's grown on me over time, and I appreciate it, but I don't know if I'll ever love it.
  4. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Although it helps to like the music your dancing to, because you will listen to it more, you don't have to like it to have heard it enough that your brain knows what is going to happen next, or at least make a guess about it.
    Sunday I was dancing to a milonga (early tango rhythm, etc) and I went to the big ending and... the music kept going. Well, my partner and I just laughed and we really nailed the ending when it came a few bars later.
    So, you improvise when the moves are in your head/body so well that you don't have to think much about HOW to do them, and the music is in your head so well that you know what'c coming next.

    When I took Argentine Tango lessons, at two months I was just about done taking the 4 week beginner class - the second time.
    Even now, after doing country western since the early 90s, and AT since the early 2000's, I'll still some times thank my partners for "putting up with me."

    If you stick with this long enough to become really comfortable with what you're doing, you might find yourself saying things to make the newbies feel more at ease. (Maybe not, but that's hat happened to me.)

    When you discuss things with your teacher, ask him/her what your partners may be noticing rather than letting him/her just tell you it's good.
  5. tangomaniac

    tangomaniac Active Member

    Calm down. Nobody is great at the beginning.

    When I started Argentine Tango, my private teacher told me to put music and just dance to it. Dance the leader's role. Dance the follower's role. The emphasis is on movement.

    It will become easier to lead once you can move with the music.
  6. sbrnsmith

    sbrnsmith Well-Known Member

    Just 2 months? I called myself a newcomer upto a year into my dance journey. I would say It's too early to know what your capable of, and definitely too early to know if you are going to enjoy it or if it's not for you...
  7. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi macbadoo, everything is alright with you. Everyone started this way! But it will take another 2 month till you feel better, sorry.

    You can improvise without liking the music.

    Tango Argentino. By the way, a lot of Kizomba music really is a ready made product from the PC. Perhaps seek out the roots from Angola and you will be surprized.
  8. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    Dancing is challenging because we have to learn a whole lot of things all at once.
    (1) You have to move in a new foot pattern.
    (2) You have to stand up straight.
    (3) You have to do it in time to music.
    (4) And you have to do all this with the distraction of a woman in front of you. What? You mean I'm supposed to walk forward with this person in my way? And this person has to move backward?

    Let me guess. You try to put all this things together at a weekly group class and/or social and none of it works. It's suddenly different from just walking down the sidewalk by yourself.

    So let's try to separate all these new things, work on each individually, and then put them together. You need to work on items 1, 2, & 3 in solo practice between group classes without the distraction of a partner. You don't need a dedicated dance floor, complicated spins and turns are further down the road. You can do this on carpet in your bare feet preferably in front of a mirror.

    Start out with the foot pattern. I highly recommend doing this in front of a mirror, as most people need to watch their feet and tipping your head over disturbs your balance. Once you have the foot pattern mastered, make sure you can execute it without looking down but instead watching that you have correct frame and posture. Do all of this without music, slow it down if you need to work it through correctly. Then stop dancing and play a dance song clapping your hands in time to the music. When you're comfortable with that, try your foot pattern in time to the music, and as soon as you get that continue adding in a focus on correct frame and posture.

    Do the solo practice at least 15 minutes daily. Longer is better, but break it up into shorter sessions as fatigue may set in if a practice session is too long. Don't have time for all this? Break it up into even shorter exercises during odd moments. Practice keeping in time to the music while driving to work tapping it out with your finger on the steering wheel. Practice frame and posture for 30 seconds in front of the bathroom mirror when you're done with your other business.

    When you go to your group class and put it together with another human, you should notice an improvement. Won't be perfect but should be better. Keep your daily practice up until you can dance the basics and simple turning of the basic before adding on more complex movements and patterns.
    macbadoo, MaggieMoves and raindance like this.
  9. flying_backwards

    flying_backwards Active Member

    Welcome. New dancers keep dance alive. You are valued, treasured even. Seeing you will remind experienced dancers of the happy time when it was all new.

    We go thru cycles of feeling awkward as we become further aware of all the aspects we can improve in our dance. This is a sign you are progressing. (There is even a label for this phase.) I'm so glad that instead of becoming too discouraged you are reaching out. Those who posted already gave good advice how to progress. It takes work, but is worth it.

    I recently took on a new challenge in my dancing that puts me back into that awkward newbie phase. In group class last night I heard myself apologizing to each partner and them all saying "It's ok" in a way that told me it was ok only because they were willing to be patient!

    Before last night's class I might have passed this off as "oh they are just happy you are trying." But now, I'll just say "I feel that way too!" because I did not like making it uncomfortable for my partners in class, even tho I was trying my best and they were patient as saints. I've been on the other side of this situation for years and really was just happy my fellow students were trying. But that does not keep me from feeling what you are now. I want this phase to be over already!

    There is no need to make small talk during classes. In fact, best to just dance. I prefer classmates not talk to me during class. Even at social dances it is nice to just dance. Social dance is wonderful for people who want to socialize without any pressure to be witty or charming verbally.

    Country: Because 2step is so fun, I have developed a tolerance for the music.

    Salsa: Years later, I still can barely tolerate salsa music.

    Hustle: Same.

    Perhaps ask yourself why you would want to learn a dance to music you do not enjoy? Why not learn a dance for music you DO enjoy?

    One more thing. You mention shows and improvisation. I think of choreographed shows as the opposite of improvisation. But learning another's choreography is a first step, to feel what they hear.
    Borazine and raindance like this.
  10. macbadoo

    macbadoo New Member

    Well it happened what I was fearing. Last night I had a dance class and finally one of the dancers said straight to me and to my teacher that she prefers not dancing with me because she can't figure me out. It hurt like hell, but I really don't blame her. My lead is too weak. I'm just so afraid of coming off as a brute and push and pull women around to where I want. It doesn't feel right. So my lead is probably too gentle. I'm also getting frustrated because some dancers tell me to do the moves one way and other dancers (like the one who doesn't want to dance with me) tells me to do in another way. Hopefully when the shows

    I don't like Kizomba music and as such, Kizomba overall seemed something that I would not like. I enlisted for some salon dancing and the teacher who was giving class asked me if I wanted to try out Kizomba. I declined, she said I had nothing to lose since it was a free class for me and I might enjoy it. Sure enough, I tried out the class and before I knew, I was hooked. When dancing with one of the most experienced dancers there I admited that I really did not like Kizomba music even though I like how relaxed this dance style was compared to salon dancing. She surprised me when she said she also hated Kizomba music at first and when she started dancing she enjoyed herself and also started to tolerate Kizomba. This made me give Kizomba a chance and, well, here I am.

    I am practicing for a show. Everything is structured with no room for creativity and I think that is ok for now. When I talked about improvisation it is because I'm getting too accustomed of not having to think up of dance moves as I am listening to music.

    The whole post seems like solid advice but I think I'm gonna need a video explaining to me how to practice by myself. I'll try to help myself in that regard.
  11. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    A good lead is too gentle!
    I fear your lead isnt decided enough. Perhaps your body language is inconsistant or even contradictorily: Head, shoulders, chest, and foot should act together. And donĀ“t forget, when you shift your weight on your right leg this will mean, that your left foot will do the next step.
  12. flying_backwards

    flying_backwards Active Member

    @macbadoo please be patient with yourself. You are doing great for two months in. These things will come with time because you are aware, self-questioning, and open to input. I am happy for you because I know you will become a good dancer someday. Meanwhile, let yourself be a beginner even tho, yes, it is scary.

    Also be patient with the followers in your group class because they are also learning. Only an advanced follower can adapt, adjust, and accept the lead of a beginner and not get confused. No need to say that to her, but know it yourself. ;)

    As your own movements become more balanced, fluid, and sure, then your lead will improve. Do not feel you have to bulldoze the followers around! If I'm dancing with a beginning leader I'd far prefer a light indefinite lead than a heavy awkward lead because I'm less likely to get hurt.
    FancyFeet and raindance like this.
  13. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    A caveat here: I don't dance kizomba myself. But in looking at the YouTube video linked below, I would say that at the beginner level it's not radically different from the rumba and salsa that I dance socially. Seems to be a modified merengue. A kizomba expert will be able to explain how I'm wrong, but that would be unnecessarily over your head at this point in your dancing.

    I'm going to expand on what opendoor said. I'm going to put it in terms of the first step. The saying is that a journey begins with a single step. Same for a dance, but that first step can be the hardest for a man starting out. You're standing there with another human in front of you. And that human is facing you. And you're expected to move together. All against your instincts. If you were walking down a crowded hallway and came face-to-face with another human, being the gentleman you are you'd try to go around that human. Wrong instinct for dancing.

    At this point, I'm going to introduce an analogy, that you want the top part of your body to be sort of like the side of a very large boat siding up to a dock in the harbor. The harbor is keeping the waves at minimum, so the side of the boat is not making any sudden motions, no rocking. The side of the boat is like a wall moving toward the dock at a slow deliberate pace. If you're standing on the edge of the dock, you can see that the side of the boat is coming toward you. The boat is too heavy for you to stop, so you know you'd better not be between the boat and the dock or you'll be crushed. But it's moving slowly and deliberately enough that you have time to get out of the way.

    You want to make the top of your body sort of like that boat. Another way to think of this would be that the top part of your body is like a stack of jenga blocks on a tray, your hips being the tray. You'd want to keep that stack of jenga blocks vertical so it doesn't collapse or slide off of the tray. Upper body motions in dancing are used to communicate direction and timing to the lady. Upper body motion is a layer of complexity that you don't need complicating your crossing the hurdle of taking that first step. Upper body motions come later, for now keep it in neutral, straight up and down. Will make it easier to be followed, as no information is usually better than the wrong information.

    So being that we're on the Internet, I don't know / can't see what your specific problems are. But I've seen lots of beginners starting out, and have been there myself recently enough. But here are some common behaviors I've seen:
    -- Since he's afraid of stepping on her, the man pokes his left leg forward past and around the lady. She can't see his foot, but she can see motion of the upper body. Maybe he leans back to counterbalance the leg, but that motion tells her to step forward instead of back. Or maybe it wobbles to one side or the other, and she has no idea of what to do. Not very much like the side of the boat. If it is like the side of the boat, the boat is on a stormy sea.
    -- Or maybe he manages to place his left foot forward without too much wobble in his upper body. But then he pulls himself with his left foot simultaneously pushing forward with his right and jerks his upper body forward. Not very much like the side of the boat coming slowly toward the dock.
    -- Or maybe the couple didn't line up in an offset position to their left / partner's right and are nose-to-nose, toes-to-toes. That's asking for problems, you might bump knees or even worse step on her. Make sure that you're in an offset position.
    -- Or perhaps the man is not quite so gentlemanly, and intentionally or not shoves the lady. While there is the rare lady who expects/prefers that, they are an insignificant minority -- most ladies don't want their dancing to be like arm wrestling. The frame is for communication between the partners and should NOT be used to power either your partner's motion or your own. Shoving can be as gross as moving your arms, or slightly less bad wiggling your shoulders. Your elbows should not move relative to your rib cage.

    Now that I've discussed some common failures, how should you move? First, make sure you're in a proper frame with the proper offset so your left leg has room to swing to the side of your partner and your right leg has room to swing between your partner's feet. Then collect your weight on your right foot. Keeping your upper body still like a stack of jenga blocks on a tray, move your body forward. Straight forward, no sideways component. Don't move your left foot forward until your body is in motion (keep it under your body). Once your body is in motion, then place it so that it will smoothly collect your weight vertically over your left foot. By moving this way, your upper body moves smoothly without jerking forward. If you move this way, the vast majority of women will step back, no fuss no muss. Even women fresh off the street never having danced will do this although they may need a bit of quick instruction like "Make your right foot free".

    You could watch YouTube videos all day long (hopefully you've figured out how to filter out the bad ones) but you still won't learn to dance. You have to actually physically practice it. You could read my message here and understand it perfectly, but when you show up at a class and stand there with another human in front of you all of this will fly out of your head like a flock of sparrows fleeing a prowling cat. You have to actually practice this by yourself. You don't need a dance floor, you can do it in bare feet on your living room carpet. But you should do it in front of a mirror so you can watch yourself to see if you're doing it somewhat close to correctly. If you don't have one, Walmart sells for ~$50 a tall mirror you can lean against a wall.

    Here's a YouTube video you can watch. A caveat: videos can be a valuable teaching aid but will not solve all your problems, there need to be other teach methods including perhaps a private lesson with a competent teacher. I don't have anyone to refer you to, and if kizomba is a street dance as it appears there may be an abundance of "teachers".
  14. macbadoo

    macbadoo New Member

    I must say that I have good deal of gratitude with your mindset of exposing thourough information like that even if that information isn't going to be in my head when it counts. Thank you everyone for your kind responses.
    opendoor likes this.
  15. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Here's the thing about partners. All of the partners you will ever dance with (barring major advances in robotics) will be human beings. Some human beings are jerks. So it follows that now and then, you are going to run into a partner that is a jerk. You have the option to not dance with anyone who is a jerk. And: two years from now, you will be a pretty good dancer and this partner who was rude to you will then want to dance with you. Remind her how she treated you when you were a beginner, and then go find someone else who is more pleasant to dance with.

    To over-simplify what snapdancer said, your main leading job as a beginner is to keep your frame firm and balanced over your own feet. Then you move yourself. Your partner's job is to sense your movements, through the frame, and move with you. She must also keep her frame firm and balanced. Because you are beginners, you won't always remember this (especially when you're trying to execute an unfamiliar pattern, or concentrate on some other bit of technique); one or both of you will lapse, and then there will be problems. It's inevitable. Dirty little secret: advanced dancers make mistakes too. Not as often. But it happens. My am partner and I are learning a difficult showcase routine right now. We make lots of mistakes.

    Also remember what snapdancer said about offset. You must keep your partner towards your right. Your right foot is meant to step between her legs, and vice versa. Beginners have a tendency to get "square", because this is the normal state when two people are conversing. But it doesn't work for dancing. You'll kick each other or step on each other's feet. It makes you afraid to move.

    When you're trying to sort out some train wreck with your partner, use this technique. It's a way of getting to the root of the problem without being accusatory towards each other. Say: "What did you feel happening there?" Then you can sort out the difference between what she perceived and what you intended. Or, armed with those two bits of information, get an instructor to help you with it.

    Remember: beginner follows learn faster than beginner leads. This is because there is more information that a lead must learn and absorb in order to get started. So be patient with yourself. (Follows will hit a wall 2-3 years in, at a point where the leads are making rapid progress. It all evens out in the end.)
    flying_backwards and IndyLady like this.
  16. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    Argentine tango music, when I started argentine tango after ten years of ballroom.
  17. tangomaniac

    tangomaniac Active Member

    Argentine tango music is an acquired taste. The music's structure is completely different from other dances.
  18. MaggieMoves

    MaggieMoves Well-Known Member

    First off, 2 months in and you're a beginner. 2 years in, and you're still a beginner. So relax - we were all at that point.

    Dance, like anything worthwhile, takes time to master and be confident with your skills in it. Even after years you may feel like you're still scratching at the surface.

    For a new dancer, I'd say go to every social dance you can. Right now it sounds like you just need confidence, and it holds up a lot of new leads.
  19. macbadoo

    macbadoo New Member

    Well, just last class we had a big drama because of me. There are 5 couples and there are 4 days of shows. And in each day we are supposed to rotate partners. I have partners for 3 days but in 1 of them I don't have any. And two of the ladies don't want to switch partners. One of the best dancers straight out said stuff like "Why do I have always be the martyr? Now I have to dance twice with Macbadoo? No one deserves that! I don't care! I just won't dance saturday!" And another one of my partners agreed with her and said she can't figure me out either. All this when I was close by. So they clearly don't care for me. To rub some salt into the wound, a twelve year old son of one of the dancers that don't want to dance with me said "Hey, mister! You dance pretty good!" I just wanted to burst out of laughter but all I could say was "That is not what I've been told." So I feel like such a drag. I feel like I weight people down. I thought dancing was supposed to be social. I wasn't aware that dancing can be a vicious, cruel mistress. I already have confidence issues. Now I feel like a damned alien.

    After the show is over I will probably switch schools. There is no way I can stick around people who clearly don't respect me.
  20. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    The best revenge is dancing well. After you become competent, you can cross them permanently off your dance card for being so rude as to not hide their disdain for your current dance inability.

    So what are you doing on the side (besides showing up for group class) to achieve that?

Share This Page