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3 Steps to Removing the Blocks in Your Dance Technique

Who can build the best car, an auto mechanic, or an unskilled labourer? They both can build an equally good one, IF the unskilled labourer is willing to put in extra time and materials. Learning how to improve your dancing is much the same way. Sure, you can learn more easily from the experts, but you can take more from their classes if you play with what you’ve learned and find out what works best for you.

Many instructors will warn you against ‘wrecking yourself’, by picking up bad habits from learning outside of the studio. And indeed, if you preparing for the competitive level, it might be best to stick with their advice. But to say a student cannot learn from experimentation begs the question: where did the first dance teachers come from? They had to learn the same way, through trial and error. Of course, the way we approach each trial can save us a lot of errors – and therefore, a lot of time.

Step #1 – Identify the ‘pain points’

No one goes to the doctor and says ‘I feel weird, fix me.’ We wait until we at least know where the pain is coming from, or some of the symptoms, or whatever. When you dance, are there places where it could be more comfortable? Is there discomfort or loss of balance at any point?

Example: ‘On my basic underarm turn in salsa, I find I lose my balance and fall sideways.’

Step #2 – Discover the cause

What you did just before the pain point is at least as important as what you did during the moment. Consider any possible explanation that comes to mind – start with the most obvious, but omit nothing. This process is a bit of an art, but once mastered, it’s the best way to ‘stumble upon’ a better way to do something.

Example: ‘Maybe I’m losing my balance because I’m turning too hard, or not hard enough? Could I be leaning into the turn, or looking down at my feet (which throws off my balance?)

Step #3 – Experiment for the solution

Every scientist knows you can’t ‘prove’ anything without testing. Test your hypothesis by attempting the opposite of what you think might have caused the pain point, then search for a balance between the two. Test each theory many times – you want to know you are getting consistent results, without just ‘getting lucky’.

Example: ‘If I’m turning too hard by leaning into the turn, I can step into the turn while holding my body back, and see if I fall differently. If I tend to look at my feet, I can use my nose to look at the midsection of the room during the turn…’ and so on.

Be patient. Sometimes you can improve the step in a few minutes, sometimes it might take hours. In return, what you learn from your effort will stay with you for a lot longer then something you were told. Plus, there is power in knowing you can improve your dancing – all on your own.

About the Author

Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for almost 20 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance and his endless seeking for ways to reach new audiences eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches ballroom at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada

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