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Technique VS New Steps: What to Focus on?

You’ve probably heard the saying: ‘Beginner dancers take intermediate classes, intermediate dancers take advanced classes, and advanced dancers take beginner classes.’

Put another way, most of us start our dancing journey with an interest in steps. We like the variety, the tangible feeling of accomplishment as we commit each one to memory.

Gradually however, you may find yourself growing bored with this method of learning. Where is the feeling of exhilaration, the smoothness and sexiness of dancing you were looking for? And some of these new patterns are starting to feel downright awkward.

Dancers who make it beyond this point grow increasingly interested in technique. Put another way, what you know becomes much less important than how you do it. And it is here where the true joy of dance can be captured.

Of course, getting there often requires a considerable investment in time and money, and not everyone wants to go that far. Here are some important considerations for you, depending on the type of dancer you are.

Social Dancers

In social dancing, like ballroom dancing, you don’t need many technical skills to have a great time! Sure, there’s the occasional misstep, but it’s fun to combine what you know in creative ways, while enjoying each other’s company.

Over time, work on honing the essentials, like balance and posture, maintaining a light but responsive connection with your partner, and smooth continuous movement. You may also find yourself experimenting with trickier combinations to see what works.

Performance Dancers

Whether this is a wedding dance or a studio showcase, you are planning your choreography in advance, and want to execute it to the best of your ability. That means a lot more focus on technical skills, at least as far as they relate to the performance.

As soon as you know where to put your feet, start learning how to give the dance the look and feel that makes the crowd ooh and ahh. The goal is move sharper, smoother, stretch farther than you did last week, so you can better support your partner, or your dance crew.

Competitive Dancers

Dancers with a competitive streak love the excitement and tension of putting their skills to the test, especially with the potential reward of a trophy or prize money. Nothing feels better than beating your personal best in front of judges and a cheering crowd.

If you decide to embrace the competitive circuit, get ready for hours of punishing drills that will strengthen your mind and body. Every move must be polished to perfection. Injury is a much greater risk as well, so be sure to rest, stretch frequently, and cross-train when possible.

Of the three paths above, there is no ‘best’ path to take – or rather, the best path is the one you enjoy the most. Just know that there’s always another layer that can be peeled back to make your dancing more fun, rewarding, and challenging. Good luck!


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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