What Would You Tell Beginners?

You are used to seeing the showy aspects of the dance demonstrated by people in top physical condition, or simply dancing with more abandon than care. But the elemental basic should be small, compact, efficient, and understated - it has to be at that tempo. If you can learn to be precise and not waste energy bouncing your body weight or flinging your legs around, you can learn to do the dance. Instead of needing a lot of raw energy and spreading it all over the place, you focus energy specifically where you want it and nowhere else. Then you can scale up the showiness to whatever your body is comfortable with. It shouldn't look like hard work, unless "working it" is part of the particular artistic message you want to convey - which should always come on top of expressing that simply doing the underlying dance would not cause you to break a sweat.

(And I'm really one to talk - I refuse to do the dance, because I know what it should be well enough to recognize that what I'm doing is not it.)
That's a good outlook on this topic Chris! I hadn't really thought of it that way. It gives me something to think about! Thanks! ;)
I've learned some Jive moves, and I can say that's actually very true! I want to learn the Jive better, but I'm afraid that I won't have enough energy for it. I think that instead of instructors being cautious with their students (I mean they should be cautious but yet they should also push their students just cause some students do need pushing etc.), the students need to realize (and will realize) what they can and cannot dance to. I love the Quickstep etc., so I love fast songs. But I think that the Jive is different. So much leg movement etc. I love watching it on television though, because it is one of my favorite dances (which is why I shouldn't be so afraid to learn it)! But I know with me for instance what I can handle and what I can't handle, and I always make sure to let my instructors know if something makes me feel uncomfortable. ;)
We stick with the Jive Chasse basic and do not do the flick basic. That is what most people do in this area. That is much less strenuous. Young people in this area, really like doing Jive, using only the chasse basic.

Competitors do primarily the flick basic, which is a lot of work.
I see a lot of people (women especially) that think they can VW, then their poor partners end up dragging them around. And it can be dangerous, when I was trying to lead it, ran my friend and I into a mirror. (Luckily only the mirror got hurt, but we still argue over whose fault it was, one of these days she'll finally let me take all the blame!) I'll also say, when my husband and I first started learning VW and QS, we were kind of dangerous on the floor (and that wasn't until we'd been dancing for about a year, and that was a year with a lot of lessons and practice). I really think that men need some good experience navigating the dance floor with some slower moving dances. The floor may be emptier, but you have to make your decisions a smidge quicker, or you really can hurt someone. And on that note, women need some good practice following, so they can respond to the lead when he's making those quick navigation decisions. I'm not saying it can't be done by relative beginner dancers. Just that I would agree that some experience be in place before trying to tackle them.
As for hustle, everyone should learn hustle. How else are you going to get your disco fix in?

If the instructor is single as well.

I agree with your comments. Even in Waltz and Foxtrot, if you are taking close to full sized steps, what you said about floorcraft, following and leading
are critical to dancing safely and enjoying the dance.

I could understand if the teacher had said wait until your leading, following and floor craft has improved, rather than just saying they are to dangerous.

We did not start Viennese until we had danced for over a year and our Waltz/Foxtrot was moving like it is suppose to and our lead/follow/floorcraft were ready for it. Our teachers would work with us on anything, provided we were ready for it. If they said no to something, they would give us a reasonable reason.
Our studio seems reluctant to teach Jive and Paso Doble. I think it's just because they aren't really social, but performance dances, and there's no way we'd ever "use" them in "real life". I still want to learn them, just for the heck of it. That's why we learned Polka! Well, that, and Polka just looked SO FUN!
Oh, I've danced Jive with quite a lot of people in clubs before (well if there is sufficient space, obviously), oops.


Active Member
My advice to a beginner: relax, smile and have fun!

And later, when he's progressing: good job! Now start taking notes; you'll appreciate it later :p


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Staff member
beginner in pro am ballroom....as follows;

your pro is not your friend...friendly is not your friend...remember it

you are the customer....your teacher deserves your respect (or get a new one) and you deserve theirs (or get a new one)

beware the studio that won't let you pay for one lesson at a time

beware the studio that blows smoke up your butt regularly

understand that you cannot get better without having to conquer many of your personal demons and that you will have to feel uncomfortable, awkward, and stupid in order to get there

you will not get very far if you do not practice alone...if you don't know how to do that, ask...if you get insufficient information, run.

always choose quality over quantity when it comes to lessons

you will feel like quitting often...get used to it and get over it

results at competitions are very complicated in terms of what they mean....eventually you will get good enough and familiar enough with the system to know what they mean...before that, find people you can trust to give you perspective

dance progress is not like fast food, if you are into instant gratification you will struggle

trust yourself, respect yourself, know what you want, know what you can spend, don't think about your regrets and disadvantages, commit fully.


Well-Known Member
Dancing is a skill that requires time and practice to learn. You will not be good overnight, so let it go and enjoy the process. Put in some effort, and you will have a fun hobby to enjoy and be proud of.


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Never compare yourself to others... everyone has their own journey and their own level of progress, and their own resources, backgrounds and experiences. I remember when I was starting I was always surprised to meet someone who seemed to "catch on right away" or was "naturally talented", only to find out that they were dance majors in college,or professional dancers in their early adult years, or danced for ten years with a previous pro, or could afford lots of lessons and coachings....... just compare yourself to yourself.


Well-Known Member
For competitive dancers:

1. Practice like ten times more than you think you need.
2. Seek the best coaching available, not the easiest available.
3. Chill out. At the end of the day, it's a ballroom competition. Don't take to too seriously, at least until the upper levels.
1. Practice like ten times more than you think you need.
2. Seek the best coaching available, not the easiest available.
Solid advice, even though I'm really struggling with these two points at the moment.
Just because a) we don't have a studio on campus and you can't just use rooms (we don't even have mirrors -.-). So am currently practice outside / in a small common room with carpet (both of which aren't ideal).
b) because there's literally only one studio in this town and while he is alright for Latin I don't want to take privates with him for ballroom (being a student and not having a car doesn't help either)

/rant over (sorry :p)


Well-Known Member
For a rank newbie whose exposure to ballroom dancing may be limited to watching DWTS where every dance looks like every other dance because the performance is so heavily choreographed, real ballroom dancing can be rather intimidating.

I think a lot of mileage can be gotten out of simply watching and trying to get a sense of what's going on. If you can't figure out what's going on from watching, find someone more experienced who is willing to answer questions to ease your transitions over the hurdles.

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