Good Enough?


New Member
The aah factor can cross all dance types and sport in my opinion. I used to play golf years ago, and golfers are always aspiring to have that great shot. If you heard a particular type of crack when the ball and club hit together you know that it will be a good shot. In relation to our dancing, I feel the same way, you go out each time to try for the ahh factor but sometimes it just does not happen, perhaps because you are trying! may be the aah factor comes when you get into the zone and are really just enjoying the experience. But I see a lot of you talk about going for medals as we say in Australia, or doing a test to attain a certain level. We have yet to start doing that level of dancing, but we regularly go for private lessons and come away happy that we have learnt something to refine the dance and the steps or improve body position. So tell me oh wise ones (as there seem to be many here :) ) is there a benefit for doing the medals...will that improve the ahh factor?


Active Member
#42's a means to an end. The medal system is structured in a graduating fashion. One thing leads to another and helps you progress. In the very least, it gives the dancer a goal with a standard format. Sort of like katas or forms in martial arts. If a person has standard patterns that are universal, it gives them something to perfect.


Active Member
Although the studio I attend doesn't do the medal thing, etc, I rather like the idea. I prefer doing things in a set, linear fashion, probably because I spent most of my working life as an engineer and program manager, i.e. tasks, timelines, milestones, etc.


New Member
Well food for thought. Went to see a friend do a medal today, with three others and they were all women. The did it with their teacher. Need to come up with a remedy for the Men drought, to see more wanting to be involved, but that is for another thread :)


Active Member
I don't want any more men in ballroom, they might cut in on my dances. As it is, generally at least three mroe women than men at any venue I go to, so I'm never lacking for a partner. :)


Well-Known Member
I've been meaning to write my current thoughts since last November, but something else always needs to be done first .... But here it is now, another major essay. I won't apologize for its length, but I don't expect everyone will have the patience to read it.

It was about November last year (or maybe it was October ... my brain is leaky these days) that DH and I stopped taking private lessons. About the same time, we started a series of West Coast Swing classes ... despite our intention to just take things easy for a while. So now we have group classes most evenings. Monday is only a "half-evening" because I go alone to 1 hour of belly dance class (I'm trying to conquer isolations, and then I will stop). Tuesday is folk dance, Wednesday is Hungarian dance, Thursday is WCS, Friday is ballroom (unless it's a ballet night), and Saturday is also ballroom (except for the monthly folk dance party). There's also a monthly WCS party and occasional special classes or workshops. (Oh yeah, there's also that pesky full-time job and the associated three hours of commute ... which kinda makes everything else possible.)

It doesn't mean we have stopped learning ... far from it. It's just that we're not getting individual attention. We're still getting plenty of things to work on, particularly in the WCS and Hungarian classes (and belly dance for me). We're not as challenged in folk dancing because it is easy for us. We're not learning much from ballroom because only one of the ballroom teachers at the venue we spend most time at gives much information beyond patterns. (Side note to that one teacher, who occasionally glances at DF ... we'll take privates from you and our WCS teacher before we take them from anyone else!)

As several people have mentioned, the funny thing is that as you learn more, the "aaahh" moments come about as often (or as rarely) as before. It seems that as you advance to the next level, you get the highs of that level, but you lose the highs of previous levels. I don't mean to say that dancing at a basic level is not enjoyable for me, but that it's harder to reach the flow state when dancing at that level. So if the goal is a minimum number of "aaahh" moments, we could probably stop learning now.

Except .... we like learning and challenging ourselves.

We dance for many reasons, even if the ultimate measure is the feeling of flow. For me, the first reason is kinesthetic awareness, the pleasure of movement. The second is response to music, particularly if it really speaks to me. The third is social / connection / sharing. The fourth is variety, both between and within dances. Finally, there is the feeling of accomplishment. I'm not sure what part of the flow feeling is due to accomplishment, but I'm sure it's a major contributor.

The feeling of accomplishment takes several forms. One is just knowing I can do something I couldn't do before (internal approval). Another is reactions of other people: when I see them enjoying watching me, when they compliment me, when they seek me out as a partner, or when they smile at the end of a lovely dance. Another is approval of experts: when a teacher heard the rhythm of my drmes steps over the fifty other people in class and said "that's it", when another teacher said I danced like someone from his country (OK, so my best compliments are from folk dancing, not ballroom ...:p). Bottom line, I don't think I would feel the same sense of accomplishment if I stopped trying to learn.

On the other hand ... I never thought I would say this, but the nights when we can't go dancing for some reason, my reaction is sometimes relief instead of disappointment. I can always use the time to catch up on something else I should be doing. I can't bear the thought of cutting back on dancing at all, but I know something is going to have to give eventually ....

In the same vein, last December I gave up trying to keep up with DF! I now read only certain threads when I have a spare moment. I know I'm missing some entertaining or interesting discussions on the "general theme" threads, but I had to admit I just can't keep up any more. This also accounts for my current lack of presence on the boards ... I usually try to read before I write ... So I'll still be around, just not very active.

My first words on this thread expressed my gratitude to DF for helping me understand the world of dance and dancers ... that is still applicable. Thanks to every person who has shared their thoughts on these forums.


Well-Known Member
Zhena, very rarely do we get to hear from somebody regarding a thread they posted after a good amount of time. It's so nice to get an update on how it all worked out for you.

I'm happy to hear that you will keep a hand in here at DF, and do chime in when you get the time!


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Staff member
i ditto LG's sentiments...and i think that dance and DF both work alot like friendships...the shape of them changes and ebbs and flows...and even sometimes ends...all of life is change....
Zhena - lovely honest and interesting post (and yes i did read all of it ;)). It seems you have reached a nice equilibrium of sorts where you have dance variety over dance specifics. I though your point on the aah moments particularly pertnent - I find that ahhs are greedy things - once you get one it demands you go to a higher level for the next one ;) Good thing for dance teachers I suppose, I mean if we got total ahaa states from a box step who would ever take another lesson?

Glad you are sticking around - not many people can write as simply, directly and honestly. :)


Well-Known Member
This was my first thread on DF ... in fact it started with my very first post. Three years have now passed, so it's time for an update.

Not much has actually changed since a year ago. I ended up dropping belly dance because it was becoming a "must do" rather than a "want to do" and I really need a little non-dancing time at home. We still do folk dance, Hungarian, West Coast Swing and ballroom on pretty much the same schedule as last year. We STILL haven't found time for private lessons ... it's always "maybe next month when we're not so busy."

We've had to skip a fair amount (maybe a third?) of the ballroom classes/socials in the past few months because of DH's work demands (travel and late nights) and a bunch of random events (e.g., train delays, etc.). It seems odd to me, but I don't miss it as much as I thought I would. We'll see if that changes when DH is really out of commission ... he's having minor surgery in a couple of weeks and he may not be able to dance for most of December.

We're still learning by actually paying attention in group classes ... a new pet peeve is people who AREN'T paying attention but instead are making it hard for me to concentrate. Strangely enough, this seems to occur mainly in the ballroom classes.

DH has commented on the fact that I'm still addicted to DF. I haven't been posting much, but I still read most of the threads. I occasionally want to comment on something, but while I'm considering what to say someone else makes the same point. Also, it seems new members come up with questions that have been discussed before because they're going through the same process as everyone else ... but I'm less interested in addressing questions that I've already thought through (as I mentioned somewhere, I often use writing to help me organize my thoughts).

Bottom line ... we're still enjoying our dancing (and I still enjoy DF), but not with the same intensity.


Well-Known Member
Re: report

Hi Zhena, thanks for your report. I am very interested how other people manage their hobbies: One thing makes me wonder, so please excuse my frank question: seven times you wrote "we". Do you only dance with your partner? I am surprised, because my partner don't want to work/study with me, at all: she has her own dancing partner, and so have I. When we go to a dance party I dance the first and the last dance (set or tanda) with my private partner, but in between we dance with our dancing partners, or other people around. I know a lot of couples that separate privacy and sport, too. So I am pretty surprised, that there are different solutions and possibilities.

wr OD


Well-Known Member
One thing makes me wonder, so please excuse my frank question: seven times you wrote "we". Do you only dance with your partner? I am surprised, because my partner don't want to work/study with me, at all: she has her own dancing partner, and so have I. When we go to a dance party I dance the first and the last dance (set or tanda) with my private partner, but in between we dance with our dancing partners, or other people around. I know a lot of couples that separate privacy and sport, too. So I am pretty surprised, that there are different solutions and possibilities.

wr OD
DH (Dear Husband) and met dancing and have been married 32 years. We enjoy the same kinds of dancing, so the only reason we might go alone is when the other one is not available. The last couple of months when DH has been extra busy I have gone to many classes alone.

We always participate in the partner rotation during class. In addition, I like to dance with other partners during the social portion of the evening. DH does not enjoy dancing with others as much, but he is not the least bit jealous when I dance while he sits. I've been trying to encourage him to dance with others more, but it's beginning to sound like nagging.

We don't compete at all, so our classes are purely for enjoyment. We like working on improving, both technique and new steps. But we don't have specific goals. We just take what we can absorb and don't worry about anything that's over our heads at the moment. We figure we'll either get it eventually or we won't.
The I feel like I am better than what I really am stage normally happens at socials where I am free to fake it and have a lot of people complimenting me (undeservedly).

The I feel so crappy I want to dig a hole and hide in it stage normally happens in my lessons when my teacher bollocks me for faking it and keep on referring to me as beginner. Nevermind I have been competing open level successfully.

As in 'I know you are a beginner but try to move your head/body/arm like you somewhat know what you are doing.' My teacher is a lovely and very diplomatic person isn't he ?

I really get reality check at every lesson !

At the moment I guess I am past feeling 'aaaahhh' simply because in my studio everybody else have won a national championship or two and I am one of dumb beginner ones.

When I am too frustrated with my lessons I go to another studio and do some socials (they don't know what a social is in my studio) to fish come compliment.

I know I am shallow !

Oh I am taking 3-4 lessons a week now with 3 different teachers (one for each style). A bit expensive now I don't have partner but an absolute necessity as my improvements have been tremendous this past year since I have been consistent and they also provide moral support which I really need atm.


Active Member
For me, the 'Ah' feeling is when a concept not only clicks in my mind but in my body; that is to say, when I understand something mentally, and then have the capacity to carry it out, as described to me, physically. What remains is the emotion behind the motion, meaning, I understand the step and technique required to achieve it, I can get my body to do it as instructed, all that is left is to put whatever emotion I desire into it, or the "appropriate" emotion in accordance to the (a) (character of the) dance, (b) steps that preceded it, and (c) steps that follow it. Dance, for me, is two things, really: (1) an understanding of my own body and the concepts presented to me, and (2) the usage of those understandings to control and carry out and achieve the desired result, that being the action that the concept is supposed to represent. The 'Ah' feeling is, typically, an 'I GET IT!' or a 'Well, I'll be darned, that actually DOES work!' feeling that comes out of our own mastery of our body because it had, prior to that point in time, never moved like that. That 'Ah' feeling is the liberation that results from the destruction of some road block that has plagued us for what seems like ever. That feeling is then amplified when these principles and concepts works in a couple, and two people are sharing and communicating with one another to combine their understandings and skills. That -- the connection between the partners, working with another human being, having another person trust you and trusting him/her -- is why I am addicted to Ballroom dancing. I think that there is nothing better than sharing the 'Ah' moments.... which then becomes another 'Ah' moment in itself. These moments may be momentary, may be fleeting, and may take forever to come. We work towards them, without ever really thinking about what they represent, or what they are, even. We say 'I want to get better,' or 'This needs to be sharper,' and maybe through that the 'Ah' moments come, because in the end, the "better" or "sharper" or "whatever" comes out of the understanding and then the application of the concepts explained and shown to us by our teachers (or whomever).

I think a dancer is "good enough" when s/he understands a concept, can explain it, can carry it out both quickly (that being to music) and slowly (that being in practice and explanation), and can assign emotions to his/her actions so that it isn't *just* a Forward Break or Natural Roll, but the move itself transcends time and space and makes the viewer (student or spectator or scrutineer) 'feel' something, or conveys a feeling the dancer is feeling during that time (happiness, sadness, worry, etc). That is what we strive for with the hours in the studio before a mirror, and the lessons, and the constant self-criticism. I suppose one can call it "Emotion through the motion." And to get there, we must suffer and learn, constantly fighting with ourselves (physically, mentally, emotionally) during every practice, every lesson, and even in the time we're not dancing; challenging ourselves to understand, and apply, and leave the studio even a little bit more capable than we were prior to coming in.


Well-Known Member
I know ... I've been mentally composing for a while now ... how much to say, how much to leave out ... when will I get time to actually write it down?

Our 4th session of the International class is tomorrow afternoon ... it looks like it will be part of our program for a while ... more later.


Well-Known Member
Thanks to TC for reminding me ...

I've been updating this thread on a semi-regular basis since I started it over four years ago. I don't want to repeat TOO much of what I've written over the years, but I'll try to include enough detail that you don't have to read all six pages for this post to make sense.

But do take a look at that first post. It’s funny, but in essence nothing has changed and I could have written it yesterday. We still enjoy dancing a wide variety of dances, but we could still make significant improvements in how well we do them. The post ends with some questions:
What does it take to get that "aaahh" feeling?
As you gain more skill, does it come more often, or is it always around the next corner?
When can you stop working so hard?
When are you "good enough"?

I’m still chasing the elusive “aaahh” feeling, and still wondering about the effort DH and I put into learning.

In the time since then, though, I’ve realized the “aaahh” feeling comes in two flavors. The one that’s easiest to describe is the conscious feeling of accomplishment … “wow, I can actually do it.” This one comes and goes. It’s a little discouraging that we get it with a movement, then we lose it, and it takes another lesson (or two, or five, or sometimes more) to get it back again with that particular movement. But I’ve been on that roller coaster so many times that now I’m used to it, and I know that if the downs are inevitable, so are the ups … as long as we keep working.

The other “aaahh” feeling is unconscious flow, the pleasure of moving gracefully to music with other people. Although both feelings can be thought of as the product of hard work and practice, only in the second type has all the work been incorporated into muscle memory so that the effort is in the past and the present consists of comfortable, natural-feeling movement. But this feeling depends on factors in addition to the one that can be worked on (the skill). The other factors include the music, the other people in the room, and my mood. So I don’t think it has come more often as my skill level has increased, but often enough that I almost always catch it at some point during an evening of dancing.

The answer to the last two questions seems to be “not yet.” DH and I have accepted the roller-coaster nature of our progress. We acknowledge we could get more out of our lessons if we practiced more, but we prefer to use our dancing time for actually dancing. To the extent we practice, it’s out on the social floor, rather than targeted practice at home or in a studio. This means our progress is slow, but we don’t have any particular goals … we just hope for general improvement.

I mentioned in one of the posts that we wanted to start taking private lessons again. We were considering two teachers, one for ballroom and one for WCS. One of the reasons it took so long to set up the lessons was that we couldn’t decide how to fit two teachers at two locations at different times into our schedule. But we finally just went ahead and set a time with one, and when we showed up for our first lesson, the other teacher was there in the same studio! So now we coordinate lesson times so we have to make only one trip. (And we found out there are several other students who take lessons from both teachers … their teaching styles are similar so people who like one will probably like the other as well.)

I also mentioned starting and stopping belly dancing in a couple of previous posts. When my schedule changed a while ago, I started again, but again I found it was feeling like something I “should” be doing rather than something I really wanted to do, so I dropped it again. Maybe someday I’ll try yet again … I’d really like to develop that kind of body control, but for now I’d rather put my efforts into other things.

Another theme that has come up over the years is the search for a ballroom “home”. When we left our first studio, we started going to group lessons and socials in a large gym. It worked for a while, but didn’t really meet our needs. So we tried a commercial studio. It also had its plusses and minuses. Lately we’ve been going to another community venue, smaller than the first, in a nicer room. In addition to the pre-social drop-in group lessons, they offer an introductory series on International dances. So far we like it … we’ll see how it goes in a few months.

It seems to be only ballroom where we have trouble finding a comfortable fit. We’ve been going to the same places for WCS, folk dance, and Hungarian dance for years, and we have no thoughts of trying anything different for those styles. I’m not sure why ballroom should be more of a challenge …

So there we have my thoughts on another year of dancing. TC, is this what you were looking for?
Though I don't think I will compete anymore, I still feel motivated to keep improving because of showcases. Because my dancing will be seen, I want to keep up the hard work and the practice. I feel the same way about any of my endeavors that will be seen by an audience, such as presentations for school.

I also want to dance well in social dancing, and be able to dance a wide variety of dances; and have good technique in leading and so forth. Feeling like I continue to progress adds to my enjoyment and fulfillment.

Actually, I hope that I will never settle and feel that it is "good enough"...

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