General Dance Discussion > Help I can only seem to dance with my Teacher

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by Vanessa Knowles, Jul 15, 2016.

  1. Vanessa Knowles

    Vanessa Knowles New Member

    I have been dancing for one year now and really enjoy privates the most. I go for one hour private lesson once a week. When ever I go in for a social class I'm absolutely horrible. Last class my toes were stepped on so much I lost a toe nail! I left feeling that after a year I have barely made any progress, I'm not blaming my the social partners, I'm sure it's my lack of following other partners that hasn't made me a good social dancer. But when I dance I want to feel good and that I'm getting better not stumble all over other people. I'm Feeling a little lost and disappointed in my abilities.
  2. stash

    stash Well-Known Member

    I would try group classes in this case. I think the biggest fault a follower can do is only dance with one person. Because you learn only that person's leads (and in the case of the pro you don't know how much they are helping you along) and you don't know how to pick up other people's leads.

    In group classes you will (hopefully) get people with a similar skill set as you and will be able to rotate partners so you get the feel of a move with lots of different people. And continue going to socials.
    Leanna, LateToTheDance and RiseNFall like this.
  3. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    There's a studio in town that sells contracts. When I dance with their students, I generally find that their ladies are not getting value for their money. Some of them are even worse than a raw newby off the street. I believe what they sell is packages of steps. Little emphasis on technique.

    As an experienced lead I can usually cover for their mistakes and get through a social dance. They may think it's wonderful and I just smile even though I might be rolling my eyes inside my brain.

    If your lessons are not covering basic technique such as correct posture, frame, footwork, and connection skills including how to to stand and move with a partner, then IMO you are being shortchanged. Your teacher should not be introducing steps beyond a few basics such as a box and underarm turn until you've mastered how to move with an average male student. I also think that ladies should be taught some basic defensive dancing skills to handle the worse than average leader.

    Are there other options for teachers in your area? You might try some other options, maybe there's an independent instructor who would work with you without making you sign a contract.
    Rhythmdancer likes this.
  4. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    OP, you say "social class"--what exactly is that??
  5. PaulBunyon

    PaulBunyon Active Member

    I had an interesting experience recently at a large local comp. In one of the general dance interludes between heats I asked an accomplished competitive dancer for a Waltz. I was tripping all over her. About half way through the song I realized she is accustomed to steps with Closing footwork only. Once I realized and accommodated my partner, things improved.

    Something similar may have been happening at your dance.
  6. DerekWeb

    DerekWeb Well-Known Member

    IF you want to be a good social dancer, you must social dance. Go to group class with rotation. Go to socials and things will get better.
  7. raindance

    raindance Well-Known Member

    One tip for group classes and social dancing - closed toe shoes! It won't keep you from getting stepped on, but may reduce the severity of any injuries and allow you to keep your toe nails attached. Getting stepped on can be due to the leader's mistakes, or the follower's mistakes, or both. But since you will dance with a variety of leaders, and you both may be making mistakes (that's normal), closed toe shoes are a good safety precaution.

    Also, don't expect anyone else to feel the same as your teacher. Students will rarely be as easy to dance with as teachers/pros, for a variety of reasons.

    If you want to dance with others socially, group lessons, social dance parties, and asking your private lesson teacher to give you tips for social dancing are all good places to start.
    Sania, ocean-daughter and bia like this.
  8. raindance

    raindance Well-Known Member

    Oh, and welcome to Dance Forums! :)
  9. MaggieMoves

    MaggieMoves Well-Known Member

    With any new lead there is an adjustment period that has to be taken into consideration. Sometimes I've spent entire socials feeling like I've just had a wrestling match, but most go very well. The last one I went to was one of the former.

    Group classes help a lot, especially if you go before the social starts. You'll have much less of that struggling period.
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    There for a while I used to joke with my partner that there was a reason that boots are popular in country western dancing.

    CW places often have a lot of dances that are done in a Varsouvienne position, with both partners facing the same direction dancing a set pattern. That position is also pretty popular in waltz, and two step. Those pattern dances are probably the most popular ones here in Portland, and are great starter dances (along with line dancing.)

    While West Coast Swing is a bit challenging, there is lots of working in something other than a closed position.

    Yes, take classes where people rotate partners if your goal is to dance with other people.
  11. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Yeah, there are several things here. The first thing that happens in any partnership where the partners don't dance with anyone else is that they learn all of the characteristics of dancing with that particular partner, which among other things means that the partners learn to accommodate each other's bad habits. A particular problem that pros run into sometimes is that they start "helping" their student without realizing that they are doing that. I recall a day some years ago when I had to tell my pro, "Stop doing me so many favors."

    The thing about socials is that you get leads of varying levels of experience and quality. Some of the leads are probably less experienced than you are. It's going to be different from you pro, and one is going to be different from the next. Some of you problems might stem from leads who try to lead things that are beyond their current abilities. Sometimes follows have to have a bit of patience with less experienced leads -- it takes longer for a beginner lead to gain a minimal level of confidence than it does for a follow. Less experienced leads sometimes think they have to dance a bunch of fancy patterns to keep their follows from getting bored. If you think a lead is dancing over his head, you might try telling him that you're fine with dancing basic patterns.

    Group classes are good for getting to experience dancing with a variety of leads, in a setting where what's coming won't be a total surprise. You not only learn about amateur leads in general, but you'll also get a feel for how leads can differ from one to the next. There's a trap that follows can fall into when doing group classes, which is just dancing the pattern being taught without actually following. In a group setting, make sure you're actually maintaining an interaction with your partner, and don't be surprised if the more experienced leads in the class lead a variation (e.g., a different ending from the one being taught).
    ocean-daughter and RiseNFall like this.
  12. ralf

    ralf Active Member

    Beginners too -- they probably just won't realize it :). By actually dancing what is led, you'll help them learn how to lead properly.
    ocean-daughter and RiseNFall like this.
  13. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    Well unfortunately if you want to get good at social dancing, you'll have to social dance, and you'll probably suck at it for a while until you're good at it. But put a little work in and you'll be enjoying it in no time. It's just like anything else you have to learn. There's a learning period.
  14. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

    True, though the first couple of times you're dancing a new pattern together in class, I think it's kind for the follower to dance her own part without insisting on the lead, so the leader can get a feel for the step.
    ocean-daughter, wooh and raindance like this.
  15. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    I sometimes ask if I should follow or "help".
    ocean-daughter likes this.
  16. sbrnsmith

    sbrnsmith Well-Known Member

    I can only dance with my teacher- I have zero interest in social dancing- and I didn't think this was a problem for me. I still don't think it's a problem. My interest is only in learning and competing pro am for now. If that changes in the future, I'm open to it- but i don't know if social dancing can help you grow as a competitive dancer? Thoughts? Keep in mind I'm only bronze dancer at this point... Does it matter very much if the only person you are dancing with is your teacher?
  17. MaggieMoves

    MaggieMoves Well-Known Member

    The only thing you're really missing out on is of you're really offering a proper connection to your partner. A pro can cover up this mistake easily, but an amateur may not as well. If you don't have a strong connection, it will directly impact your placing in a competition.
    ocean-daughter and stash like this.
  18. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    If I'm learning a totally new step, I am NOT thinking about my lead, at least not in the very beginning. o_O
  19. I know of which you speak. I've been dancing a little over a year, and while I don't struggle quite as much (I've taken LOTS of group classes and gone to a lot of social dances), I do KNOW my instructor's lead really well (we'll be dancing pro/am at some point in the near-ish future), so I find him the easiest to dance with. I have some other friends that are decent to very good leads that I dance well with, some others that are good leads but maybe clumsy in the steps and patterns, and a few that I just can't really dance well with. I also get a little nervous when I dance with completely new people, like when I'm visiting my mom and go with her to her studio. But, the more social dancing and group lessons I take, the easier it is for me to get the hang of different leads. Learning to be a good follower seems to help a lot, too (I can be quite bad....when I follow well I can dance with just about anyone).
    raindance likes this.
  20. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Opinions differ. I think it does, but lots of dancers that I respect disagree. But consider this: what happens if you have to get a new pro?

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