General Dance Discussion > My aching shoulder!!!

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by danceguy, Oct 22, 2003.

  1. danceguy

    danceguy New Member


    I have a question for the more veteran dancers and instructors out there, or for anyone who has comments or suggestions to share.

    For those of you who have been dancing for a while, at what point do you stop taking lessons? I realize this is a very general statement and could cover many aspects of learning to dance, but the reason I ask is that I'm just getting into my 5th month of dancing and I'm finding myself a bit confused about where to go next.

    I started as a total greenhorn with no dance experience whatsover. Since then I've been taking 2-3 lessons a week, a private or workshop here and there and I go out dancing once or twice a month (working towards once a week). I'd be out more but family obligations have come up so it's a miracle I make it to class at all. I practice nearly everyday, listen to lots of music and really focus on my basics.

    But - I've come to find that hardly anyone in my classes appears to practice outside of class. For instance, I am currently in "Intermediate" classes but I still call myself a beginner. I like learning new moves...but its the basics that I really focus on. I meet a lot of people who do fancy moves in class, and while these look nice, their basics are way off and I don't want to end up like that. I want to be the best dancer I can be! :?

    I'll cut to the chase here. I am just finding myself surrounded by people with poor ryhthm, no frame connection and not a lot of desire to improve. I came out of class tonight with another case of what I call "Clinging Follower Shoulder." After an hour and a half class of dragging ladies around who don't hold their frame, have noodle arms and hang onto me for support...I'm in pain and sore! Ouch! :oops:

    For instance, in one of my Int classes the teacher had everyone partner up and do lead and follow exercises. I'm keeping my hand in the right spot, using good pressure, good frame...but nearly every lady I dance with is trying to do Tai chi instead of dance...they step back...they exert no pressure. I don't want to be rude and say something to hurt their feelings...but it's driving me nuts!

    I'm still a very new dancer, and I'm sure most of the people here could find as many holes in my technique as you'd find in a block of Swiss cheese. I'm very passionate about this new hobby of mine...but I feel almost held back because of the level of the other students I encounter.

    I'm trying not to be harsh here, but some of the stuff I'm learning, very basic Foxtrot, ECS...these dances are SO EASY! Why do so many people have trouble doing them??? After taking some Lindy Hop lessons...I feel like everything I've learned in Ballroom class is watered down...

    My thoughts to myself is first to start going to more dances in the community...taking lessons at dances and dancing with people who are out there dancing all the time. I still enjoy the social side of dance class, and I do really love my teacher and the school...but perhaps it is time to put more energy into dances and less into class? Or am I missing the point and just a moron?

    Do those of you who are fairly new to dance still take the regular classes? I'm very curious to hear your stories and comments...and thank you in advance. :)


  2. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member


    I would venture to say as a general rule you never stop taking lessons.

    That said it sounds to me that you could benefit from focusing your attentions on the social dance floor vs. the classroom. Don't give up on classes but maybe they are not the best thing for you right now... and I'm sure it's getting expensive! (that was a limiting factor for me)

    I am of the opinion that real growth does not occur in the dance classroom but on the social dance floor/ practice hall. The classes give you the vital information to make growth possible, don't get me wrong, but it's the practice that makes the movement so ingrained that it becomes second nature. Spend less time 'learning' and more time dancing... I think you'll learn more that way-- sounds strange but it's true. Following this line of thinking it stands to reason that not only may you become a better dancer but many of the other dancers there have been doing the same thus they would be better dancers as well.

    I first started learning swing from a friend who taught me the basics very well in his living room. (coinsidentally he had taken lessons from d nice back when he was teaching in Boston.... fancy that! it is a small world after all!) After that I took a six week series of one lesson per week... this is when I realized how well I was taught... and about half way through that series I attended my first social dance.

    Part of me was horrified! That was also when I met SwinginBoo's boyfriend-- Boo, being a follow, I didn't meet until a few weeks after that. Since then he's taught me a lot... most of the lindy I know came from him. Most importantly he taught me how to follow transitions between Lindy and ECS... PRICELESS!! He still gives me tutorials when we're at the same dance. He still occasionally says "Alright we're gonna put in some lindy." He still somewhat rarely warns me about an up coming lindy circle and counts at me. Oddly enough it doesn't bother me at all! (from anyone else I would consider it rude... but since he danced with me when I needed stuff like that and still dances with me it's okay and at times humorous) Although I have to double check myself when he does that... maybe I was sloppy? :shrug:

    Whew! that was a tangent if I ever saw one... anywho-- since then I've attended a class or a workshop here and there and have learned to not take swing from a ballroom instructor. Like you I enjoyed the class yes... very nice people. They were all a lot of fun and my class was a highlight to my week but all in all what I actually took away from those six weeks of classes was comparatively nominal. I wonder if my classmate ever go swing dancing now... a large part of me doubts it... they seemed to enjoy the class more than the dance.

    It's about the dance so go dance... if after a while you feel you've hit a plateu then go take some classes, privates and/or workshops... then go dance.

    my advice :D
  3. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Guys! Your long, long posts are SO intimidating! :lol: But I always try to rise to a challenge. :lol:

    SG. If you're not happy with the quality of instruction you're receiving, start looking around for a new instructor or new group classes that focus more on lead and follow technique. Trust your instincts. There are good instuctors out there who incoporate technique into their teaching style, but there are many who teach only patterns, particularly in group classes. Keep looking until you find someone you're happy with.

    SK. You're right about going out to dance. That's what we're all here for -- to dance, not just to study dance. We're here because we love dancing. But continued instruction from an advanced dancer/teacher can help hone the technique and expose us to new things. So, for me, there has to be a mix of both -- learning plus just dancing. That way I'm having fun, but I'm also getting the reality check of a seasoned professional critiquing me on a regular basis. Just a thought. :D
  4. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    As a general rule, SK, you may be right. I don't know, because I'm not a swing specialist like you and Boo, so the level of instruction you require may be much higher.

    But let me tell you an experience I had this week. For months, I had been hearing about these Monday night salsa classes not far from where I live. But I kept avoiding going to them because the woman who teaches the salsa classes is a ballroom teacher -- actually quite a good ballroom smooth and Latin competitor and a ballroom teacher. So how could she be good at salsa?

    But then, peachexploration invited me to go, and since I wanted to meet peachexploration, I went. Guess what happened? Peachexploration and I were there at different times, so we didn't meet :cry: (we will Saturday, though. :D ) but the ballroom teacher was a darn good salsera! I mean good! All this time, I prevented myself from learning from her because of my predetermined view of her as ballroom only. I was wrong.

    You really never know. *shrug* :?
  5. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    I’m hooked on Salsa, but I see some similarities here.

    Chose some of the girls I class, and try exchange some feedback. You’re in class to learn something, and can’t rely on the teacher to see and feel everything. If you can tell what she does wrong, then tell her and help her. It can be done in a very constructive way.

    Sometimes I ask, if this move/lead or whatever felt right. It’s another way to give me some feedback.

    If you can do a move right with one partner, doesn’t necessarily mean you can do it with another. Or do it with a partner, when she doesn’t know what happens before you lead it.

    Note that all the wonderful ladies out there is different, and you have to adjust your lead and the level to whom you dance with. Fortunately many of the ladies is capable to adjust to the different leads as well.

    Enjoy being the best in class, and note the ladies enjoy dancing with you. Upgrade to the next level, if you feel it’s the right thing. It’s not how long you been dancing, but how you dance that’s count. Keep working on the basics. And most important, remember to have fun. :wink:

    I been dancing 8 months, and take all the classes, workshops & social dancing I can fit in my calendar.
  6. SwinginBoo

    SwinginBoo New Member

    LOL, he occasionally counts when he's dancing with me. I get so mad, I say "Yeah, I can count, you don't need to do it for me" And you know what, it turns out he's not counting for you. Sometimes when he's doing something different he counts outloud for himself. So don't take it personally dear. And yes, you just have to laugh. (though admittingly, sometimes I don't :evil: :lol:)
  7. SwinginBoo

    SwinginBoo New Member

    ScorpionGuy -- as far as your shoulder goes. One thing you could say is before you start dancing say something like "I hurt my shoulder doing ____, so I need to keep a very light connection on it." Or something like that. That seems to work, though if the people you are dancing with have noodle arms it might be worse when trying to lead.

    I suggest going to social dances more than lessons right now. I won't repeat what others have said, but I agree with all the reasoning behind it.
  8. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member


    I see your point... can't judge a book by it's cover and all and I agree with that. I am sure that there are ballroom dance teachers who are quite good teaching lindy. I guess I did imply the opposit which was not fair of me. Just a bit of reason behind my thinking. :D

    I would imagine to be a good ballroom teacher one must have a great breadth of knowledge to cover all of those different dances and often breadth comes as an exchange for depth (not always of course but let's face it that people have their limits and it is impossible to everything about everything). Lindy doesn't seem to be a dominate ballroom dance. It wouldn't make much sense in my mind for a ballroom instructor to spend time on lindy when they can be perfecting their latin and waltz. Also Lindy is quite different than the others. It bounces into the ground and does not emphasis light floatiness found in most ballrooms.

  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I see your point, too, SK. Why would you want to take swing lessons from somebody who's been "specializing" in everything under the sun for the past ten years, when you can take lessons from someone who's been specializing in swing for the same amount of time? They have to be at two different levels, as far as mastery of swing is concerned. I guess. :?
  10. Taita

    Taita New Member

    My 2 cents...

    Once I had an opportunity to dance West Coast swing with a very high level West Coast swing competitor. Since my knowledge of West Coast swing amounts to 'just enough to defend myself', I was content to simply give her opportunities to do her thing. The music then changed to cha cha. Here, I was rather dissappointed that I simply failed to feel where she was. Leading was rather hopeless since I could not find her center and could not detect the same body tone or frame she exhibited to dramatic effect in just the previous song!

    In another experience, I had the opportunity to take a West Coast swing class from another high level competitor. In no time at all, I was doing variations far above my level of knowledge simply because the class was focused more on fundamental dance technique as it applies to West Coast Swing. I came to learn later that the instructor was not only a West Coast Swing competitor, but well versed in many different styles like ballroom, jazz, and ballet. From these two experiences in a dance style I know very little about, I came away with a simple conclusion:

    There are 2 kinds of good dancers: specialists who know every pattern and detail about a particular dance and those who can flat out dance regardless of what is playing. Learning from anyone is always good. Learning from specialists can be very insightful. For me, I tend to favor lessons from those who can dance :wink: .

    Just to stay on topic.....

    scorpionguy: You may want to consider polishing some of your technique with a good instructor and/or working with a good partner who shares similar goals.

    SK and Boo: I'd love swing with you guys sometime, when & where do you guys usually go?

    back to lurk mode..... 8)
  11. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Lurk mode or no, Taita, I love your posts. You always have some great insight to add. :D

    I tend to take my lessons from generalists, who can dance to pretty much anything they want. But I can see the value in studying with a specialist. I'm just wondering out loud, here, but I wonder if it's possible to find a balance, and do some of each? Hmm. My goal is to be a darn good generalist, so I think I could benefit from studying with some specialists. Hmmm. Thinking ...
  12. Taita

    Taita New Member

    Hi Jenn,

    Always a pleasure being welcomed by you :D . Having had the benefit of instruction with some truly great specialists, I have come to some simple conclusions:

    The better the specialist, the more fundamental the advice given. Many of the specialists I have worked with have helped me with my footwork or armstyling or some other set of details. Then I had the opportunity to work with someone who has trained champions. A coach the world's best dancers will often work with. After one lesson with him, his advice boiled down to: 'pick up your head more'. Oddly enough, it made a tremendous difference! In summary, it's impossible to be a great specialist without being an outstanding dancer.

    back to lurk mode..... 8)
  13. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I've noticed what you're saying in other disciplines too, Taita. The better the teacher, the simpler/more fundamental the lessons. You're so right. And now I'm thinking about getting myself some coaching time with world class coaches. Why not? I'm spending a pile of cash, anyway; why not spend some of it with world class, competitive coaches? I took a look at the latest Dancebeat, and a bunch of coaches advertised there actualy live within a reasonable drive of me. Why not come up with a plan, then go see what I can learn in an hour or two. No offense to my regular coaches, who are very good. But learning is learning, and maybe it's time to supplement mine. You've really got me thinking, Taita, and that's good. :D Thanks.

    Jenn :D
  14. SwinginBoo

    SwinginBoo New Member

    I mainly dance in CT.

    Every tuesday at Murphy and Scarletti's in Farmington, CT
    1st friday of every month @ West Hartford Town Hall
    Thursdays, American Legion Hall in Wethersfield, CT
    2nd Sat. of the month -- CSDS dance in Branford, CT
    3rd Saturday of the month at East Lyme COmmunity Center, East Lyme

    This is in general...other than these dances there is always some swing event/dance going on fridays and saturdays. I also tend to follow Eight to the Bar -- a really fantastic swing band.
  15. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    I on the other hand haven't been out dancing in about a month!! But I generally show up at Murphy's ... no cover... free water! ;)
  16. danceguy

    danceguy New Member


    Thank you all for the advice everyone. I've realized that it is time for me to get out there to more I've found that while Dance class is fun...I need to remember why I signed up in the first place...and that is to dance at dances...not just in a classroom.

    I've noticed in my particular group that most people go there just for the class environment...they just want to have fun. These are mostly older couples (fairly wealthy ones I might add) and to them...its a social activity. It is this to me too...but I really want to continue to learn and grow...not to mention the lack of meeting people my own age there. Someone had mentioned finding a good partner...well I haven't yet and that's another reason to venture out.

    I also believe that learning Ballroom, ECS, Latin and now Lindy is quite a bit for a first timer to take on all at once. And it IS getting expensive for so many I think for now I'll finish out the lessons I just started...go to more dances...and next month I'll just take one class...most likely WCS as I feel I'm ready for that.

    There are many dances I can go to in my area each I'll be out on the town now! I do have a lot of stuff in my life going on at the moment...but somehow I'll make it all work...but I think it is time to leave the nest of dance school and see where my wings carry me. Not to mention I'll have plenty to share here at the forum! :)


  17. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    Best of luck to you!! You'll do fine! Where abouts do you live?
  18. danceguy

    danceguy New Member

    I live in Northern California...thinking of relocating but not sure to where exactly yet. Well, as per my other post, I've still a lot of work to do before I go out to more social dances...but at least I'm aware of that now. :)

  19. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    Negative :shock:

    Get out there. Keep it simple, have fun, and try the stuff you learned in class. Find out what works for you!

    Go for the dancers around your level, and get some floor experience and meet some people.

    I know it can be a terrifying thing, and you get this "I can't dance" feeling. But if you want to use the dance socially, this is the way to lift the skills as fast as possible. Try to get some of the dancers from the class along to the socials, the have the same feeling as you do, but together you have a base camp and some common routines.

    Good luck, and have fun!
  20. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Absolutely right, Danish Guy! SG, don't let getting spooked by one social dance experience stop you. It's just like falling off a bicycle, or whatever that expression is. You have to get right back on. So go next week, and make yourself dance. Truthfully, the more experienced follows know ways of keeping things interesting for themselves. You just lead the moves you know, and let yourself get comfy on the floor. But whatever you do, don't stop going to social dances, waiting until you're "good enough." No, no,no! Going is what will make you good enough, if there is any such thing.

    Go out and dance, young man! :D

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