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Seriously, How Long Before I’m ‘Good’ at This?

Not going to lie – I’ve been avoiding writing about this. Not because it isn’t one of the most common questions ever, not because it wouldn’t be a useful thing to know, but because the length of time doesn’t really matter. But I know what does.

You see, there are dancers out there who’ve invested literally dozens of hour WEEKLY in private lessons, with liberal practice time in between. These are the ‘love-at-first-sight’ dancers, the ones who have fallen hard for their art and are determined to become the best, ASAP.

For these dancers, a timeline would look something like this:

Beginner (social) level……………………………………….2 weeks

Intermediate (performance) level…………………………6 months – 1 year

Advanced (high-level competitions) level……………..1.5 – 2 years

Then you have the ‘hobbyists’. These dancers consider dance a relatively lower priority in the life compared to other activities – like watching Netflix, for example. They go to the group classes, maybe even take a private or two, but go back to their non-dancing lives the moment they’re out the door.

And as a result, their timeline will look fundamentally different:

Beginner (social) level……………………………………….2 – 5 years

Intermediate (performance) level…………………………5 – 10 years

Advanced (high-level competitions) level……………..Just after flying cars are perfected

So it really has less to do with the time from when you began lessons, and more to do with the effort that’s gone in to making your dancing dream a reality.

Of course, most of us are in the middle, where we want to become great dancers, but don’t have the resources to devote ourselves to it full-time. So if we really want to get there, we need to answer a few questions:

  1. How good, exactly, do we want to be?
  2. When, realistically, do we see ourselves getting there?
  3. How much time and money are we willing and able to invest?

These three questions are connected. If for example, you realize you aren’t likely to be winning competitions within the year, you either need to leave yourself more time to improve, or take more classes so you can improve faster. Talk with your instructor and other dancers in your field to build a sense of what is realistic.

Most of us would love it if we could just be strapped into a machine that zaps us full of dancing knowledge in 5.6 seconds. Doing so however, would cheapen the experience: Believe it or not, we derive a lot of satisfaction from overcoming a challenge. So set your plan and resolve to implement it – it’s well worth the effort.


About the Author

Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for over 18 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.

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