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WHY You Should “Dance it Slowly” in Your Dance Practice

“But it’s so boooooooring!!!” I hear you shout. And you’re right – it’s WAY more fun to go full speed during dance practice (or even double-speed, if you’re really excited). Thing is, assuming the purpose of your lessons is to actually improve, you have to know what in your dance practice you need to improve on. And that means dancing it slowly.

Let me suggest something radical; that this body that you have occupied and put to work for the last 20-to-60 years, is still largely a mystery to you. You know the basics – walking, running, jumping, etc. – but not how the body accomplishes these amazing feats. 

So congrats, you’ve passed Movement 101 with flying colours, but you’re a long way from earning that honours degree. Think of dancing as Movement 201-410: You still move your body in similar ways, but increasing precision and detail is needed in your dance practice. Hey, this is the most fun you’ll have studying for something.

We need to know those nitty-gritty details to help us understand anything better. Or put another way, you can’t paint the next Mona Lisa without knowing a few things about shading, perspective, angles… And that’s about all I know about painting.

Coming back to your dance practice, moving slowly does a bunch of stuff to help you understand what your body is up to during the movement:

  1. It gives you more time to feel what the body is doing.
  2. It gives you more time to spot when something feels uncomfortable, tight, loose, dizzy, unbalanced, weird, etc…
  3. It tests your balance, showing where you need to adjust your posture and weight transfers.
  4. It’s harder to keep the momentum, requiring more precision to avoid wasting energy.

“But I never feel unbalanced when I do it quickly!” Sure, and if all the doctors were fired, there would be no reported sicknesses. The problem is still there – you’ve just blinded yourself to it. Then you wonder why you have to hang onto your partner at times, or can never seem to complete that move fast enough for the music.

Try it – next dance practice, take something you’ve been having trouble with, and do it slowly. Heck, take notes if you’re feeling inspired. I guarantee if you pay close attention, you’ll start spotting the clues to correct it.

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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