What’s the first step in dancing?

I received a question about how to get started dancing, especially if you haven’t tried it before.

I think the best way to get started is to attend some different dance places that offer a free beginners lesson. The dances have an admission price (normally very reasonably). Once you try some different dances, I recommend you take some private or group lessons in your favorite dance.

Easy Coast Swing is a good dance style to start off with. It is a lot of fun, and an easy style to start with. You will be dancing in no time.

Sometimes location is a factor.  I have some students that don’t want to travel to different parts of the city.  So if they just want to stay in Durham, I would recommend learning East Coast Swing or Salsa/Mambo.  There are many places in Durham to go East Coast Swing or Salsa Dancing.  If you don’t want to travel out of Raleigh, then West Coast Swing is very prevalent in that area, as well as some East Coast Swing.  But you will not find much Salsa/Mambo.
Check out my website: www.DanceFourFun.com for all the different places to dance and their dance type in the “Dance Every Night of the Week

If you are in a different state, just do an internet search for East Coast Swing in city.  The best and less intimidating dances are often located at Elks Lodges and such. 

I also recommend you stick with one style of dance until you feel confident in it. Then you can add another style. Some places like Fred Astaire or Arthur Murray dance studios try to teach folks 4 or 5 types of dances in a short time span. If you haven’t done much dancing before, then what happens is that you can not retain the different dances, and can’t really get good in any one of them.

What ever you try, take your time and have a great time with it.

If you want to get more dance tips, email me at laurarose@dancefourfun.com. I will put you on my newsletter list.
Have a great time. And let me know how you are doing.

Let me know if this helps.
If you are interested in knowing how to take these  concepts into the professional environment, please sign up for my professional and career management (free) newsletter at               

Feel free to share this newsletter with your family, friends and colleagues. My business relies on satisfied clients as the primary source of new business, and your referrals are both welcome and most sincerely appreciated!

Enjoy!

Warmly,
Laura Lee Rose
  LauraRose@DanceFourFun.com

p.s.  — Please send in your dance tips to share.

5 Tips to increase your enjoyment of a group lesson

Some things you can do to make the group class fun for you, your dance partner and even the instructor.

1)      Stick with the program

  1. Even if you are familiar with the move that is being taught, stick with the pace and material in class.  Don’t do your own version of the move or even a different move.
  2. This distracts your partner (because they are trying to learn the current move being described).
  3. This distracts your instructor (because they will assume they are not conveying the move correctly because you are not following the instructions).
  4. This distracts your neighbors.
  5. You can take private classes (taught at your pace) or a more advanced class.  But when you are in this particular class, please follow the instructor.

2)      Don’t try to teach your partner

  1. As a leader, focus on what you need to do to be a better leader.  If your partner is not following as expected, review what you need to do to lead it better.  Don’t try to instruct your partner on what they are ‘supposed to be doing’ in response to your questionable lead.
  2. As a follower, wait for the lead.  Don’t walk through the move without being lead through it.  It doesn’t help your leader to learn the move, if you are executing the move without him.  Just pause and allow your leader to experiment with the move.
  3. Wait until your partner asks for help.  No one likes unsolicited advice or direction.

3)      Ask the instructor the question, not your partner.   

  1. Some people will have the same question as you do.  So, by asking the question out loud, you allow the instructor to not only give you the proper answer but to the rest of the class as well. 
  2. It also tell the instructor what they need to add to their lesson plans next time, so that they better cover it next time.
  3. It also minimizes distracting chit-chat in the middle of instruction.

4)      Greet your new partner, but at the same time keep chit-chat to a minimum. 

  1. Most group classes rotate partners.  As you rotate, introduce yourself to the new partner but keep additional chit-chat to a minimum. 
  2.  It’s natural to have some chit-chat in a group class, especially when you rotate.  But keep in mind that as you are talking, you are not listening to the instructions.
  3. Remember your classmates and ask them to dance when you are on the regular social dance floor.  Group classes are great places to find practice partners for the regular social dance floor.

5)      Have fun.  Your smile is contagious.  It will uplift your partner, your neighbors and your instructor.

Dance Difficulty Scale

One of the first questions new dancers ask me is “Which dance should I learn first?”

This is a very good question.  There are certain styles that are definitely more difficult than others.  There are certain dances that you can get familiar enough in 30-60 minutes.  Some things to consider before selecting the first partner dance to learn:

1) Before selecting a dance, clarify why you want to learn to dance.
For instance, do you want to perform, compete, or just dance for fun.  There are certain instructors that are focused on performance and competitions.  These instructors will focus on more showy moves that may not fit on the regular social dance floor.   And other instructors that focus styles that work better on the social dance floor and will work with any partner.

2) Decide how you intend to practice between your lessons.
A student could not decide between East Coast Swing or West Coast Swing.  I asked him where he sees himself practicing/dancing. For instance:  Raleigh has lots of places to do West Coast Swing.  Durham has lots of places to do East Coast Swing.  His reply was: “I would never travel as far as Raleigh for a dance”.  East Coast seemed the best choice for him – because that is where he would practice his dancing.

3) If this is your first experience with dancing, then Single Step, Blues Dancing or East Coast Swing would be the dances to start off with.   It’s a little simpler to get started with these dances — although (as with any dance) there are advanced moves in any style.  It’s just you fill find yourself moving around the dance floor within 30 minutes with any of those dances.

4) If you are just starting out – my recommendation is to pick one dance and learn it well (versus trying to learn 5 or 6 different dances in 10 weeks).  By ‘well’ — I mean that you are able to dance it without thinking and without anxiety.  Once you have an intermediate experience level, then you can add your second dance style.  After you have at least 2 dances under your intermediate-belt; then you will find that all the other dances will fall quickly into place.  Many of the dances share the same moves and leads — with just a slight modification of their basic steps.

5) Sample dance difficulty scale (but not limited to) is something like this:
On a Scale of 1-10 (10 being the most difficult)

Sample Dance Dance Difficulty
Single-Step 1
East Coast Swing 2-3
Blues dancing 2-3
Salsa/Mambo 4-5
Line Dancing 4-5
West Coast Swing 5-6
Argentine Tango 7-8

Hope this has helped.

Stop to smell the roses

While I was dancing, I was laughing at the lyrics to the song; and my partner was startled.

“Why are you laughing at me for?”

“Oh – no, I was laughing at the lyrics.  They are pretty funny, don’t your think?”

“You can hear the lyrics?  I hardly notice the music!”

 

We’ve all heard about the quote  “stop to smell the roses”.  We are all familiar with its meaning, which is, to take time to appreciate a situation or slow down and pay attention to what is going on around you. 

This works well on the dance floor as well.

 

Sometimes we’re so caught up in the series of moves and steps, trying to do things perfectly, and trying to get your partner to do things perfectly – that we forget to actually relax and enjoy the dance.

 

Don’t get me wrong.  I totally understand how difficult it is to relax on the dance floor.  And the moment someone commands you to relax, we naturally do the opposite.  It’s difficult to surrender and just go with the flow – especially if we are the leader and are expected to navigate.

 

The first time I truly relaxed on the dance floor was at an away-dance conference.  There was dancing all day and night.  Workshops in the morning, followed by dancing until 4:00am in the morning.  After all-day/all-night dancing, your body hits this plateau where you are between tired and exhausted.  You don’t really want to stop dancing – but you’re too tired to be worried about how you are doing.  You start to just go with the flow and stuff happens.  You start dancing at a higher level.  You are too tired to think too much ahead, and are simply reacting to the movement of the music.  You realize that things work out, even when didn’t go exactly as you had planned.

 

But this is feeling is hard to hit and sustain, especially if you are just beginning to dance.

 

Couple of things that might help:

1)      Remember that dancing is fun.  Sometimes it’s fun to see what happens versus having everything planned out. (One of my favorite leaders complimented me saying that, “I don’t ever have to worry about making a mistake with you, because even when I do you turn it into something pretty cool.  I don’t ever have to worry.”

2)      You have a partner.  Sometimes its fun to just allow your partner does with an ‘allow’.  (An ‘allow’ is a signal that leaders can give to his follower to allow them to improvise and lead for a little while.  If you are interested in learning how to give and recognize this lead/follow switches, please contact LauraRose@DanceFourFun.com ). 

3)      Take advantage of shines and blues.  If you’re having trouble with a dance partner, incorporate shines (letting each other go and doing your own thing for a few phrases of music) and blues (getting into close-positions and just swaying with the music).  Breaking up the dance with either of these two different styles will help reset the mood and eliminate any tension that may have been building up.  If the regular series of moves are note working….breaking it up like this can’t hurt.

 

To learn more about how to signal each other for play or how to handle difficult situations on the dance floor,  please contact LauraRose@DanceFourFun.com

Turning competition into collaboration.

A friend of a friend was visiting from Berlin, Germany.  Although I regularly teach a private group lessons at my friend’s home, she wanted to postpone (cancel) our January group classes — so that her group can take lessons from their visiting friend.  Although I could have seen this as a negative, I didn’t.  It would not make much sense to do so.

  • My friends have been taking from me forever; and they will continue when their friend returns home.
  • Their friend will only be here through January.  I’ll be here long after their friend leaves.
  • My friends enjoy all different types of dances; and it’s fun for them to learn from different instructors.
  • Although I have connections into the Argentine Tango community, I don’t  teach Tango (which is my friend’s friend’s expertise).
  • When their friend leaves, I can still help them stay in practice with Tango during our regular dance lessons.

So I immediately went into collaborative mode.  When my friend mentioned why she was canceling our January classes,  I forwarded my friend all the Argentine Tango community information that I could find.  I also introduced some local Argentine Tango instructors to my friend’s friend.   Local instructors could then offer guest workshops and private lessons with an international Argentine Tango instructor without much overhead or hassle.  I also connected her with a local Argentine Tango instructor that has her finger on the pulse of everything Tango.  This allowed all sides to benefit from the connection.

Even though making these connections between the guest instructor and others may not directly or immediately benefit me — both sides realize that I was thinking of their best interest.  And like any good dance partner, we look out for each other (both on and off the dance floor).

On the dance floor, we don’t want to show-off, out-do, or struggle with our partners.  We don’t want to make our partner feel uncomfortable or ungraceful.  If the moves aren’t coming out exactly as we had initially envisioned, just relax and co-create a new movement from the blending of your styles.  If your follower isn’t exactly paying attention to you OR if your leader isn’t giving you any play time — just ease into the space and make the best out of this current situation.  You may be surprised  what will develop.  This specific song/dance will only last a very limited time.  But the steps and care that you in invest in this time will give you lasting results. .

If you are interested in knowing how to take these  concepts into the professional environment, please sign up for my professional and career management (free) newsletter at
or cut/paste this into your browser: http://eepurl.com/cZ9_-/

Feel free to share this newsletter with your family, friends and colleagues. My business relies on satisfied clients as the primary source of new business, and your referrals are both welcome and most sincerely appreciated!

Enjoy!

Warmly,
Laura Lee Rose
  LauraRose@DanceFourFun.com

p.s.  — Please send in your dance tips to share.


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It’s natural to trip at transition points.

If you haven’t been to Loafer’s (a great place for dancing) new location at 605 Creekside Drive, Raleigh — please do yourself a big favor and check it out. Deborah and Gary Gibson have successfully transported the fun from the previous location to this new, larger place.

Anyway – I was checking out their new dance floor on Friday and noticed that as the evening progressed the dance floor was “getting crowded”. It wasn’t exactly crowded yet…it was in transition (“getting crowded”). I also noticed that the dancers were still dancing as if they had plenty of space and bumping into each other. I realized that when dancers enter a “crowded” dance floor, they dance appropriately small. When the dance floor is “wide-open” (lots of space), dancers relax and take as much space as they want. But when the dance floor is transitioning from “wide open” to “crowded” — it may take dancers quite a delay to transition (or recognize) that they need to be altering their dance style to the reducing space available.

This is no different than transitioning between different moves in the dance. Sometimes it takes us some time and practice to transition from one footwork sequence to another; from one series of spins back to something more linear; from a slow movement to a faster paced sequence; etc.

And this is no different in life. We all have transitional periods in life: graduations, marriage, divorce, change jobs, etc. And it’s these times that it is easy to mis-step. Below are some techniques that you can use on the dance floor and in life to regain your balance after a slight transition trip.

Don’t dwell on the slip. The music is still playing, the perfect partner is still in front of you — just continue to enjoy the next moment. The longer you dwell on the past slip — the more you are missing of the present.
Approach it with humor. Everyone trips now and again. And it you are advancing in your skill-set (learning new things), this will not be the last mis-step in your life.
Don’t avoid the awkward moves. The only reason it feels awkward is because it’s new to you. Everyone has trouble with new moves. Focusing on ‘not doing it again’ — actually sets the stage for it happening again. Just focus and visualize how you want the move or sequence to flow.
Define the problem transition point, then practice. Create a drill or task that you can use to practice off-stage. Create a line-dance with your favorite song that has these difficult transitions. The more frequently you do this, the more fluid and graceful it will become.
Find a mentor or coach. If you see someone that seems to have this particular transition area under control, ask for their advice on how they accomplished the transition. It was new to them at one point. Ask them how they conquered the tricky step.

These tips work on other things besides dancing as well. Try them out.

If you are interested in knowing how to take these concepts into the professional environment, please sign up for my professional and career management (free) newsletter at
or cut/paste this into your browser: http://eepurl.com/cZ9_-/

Feel free to share this newsletter with your family, friends and colleagues. My business relies on satisfied clients as the primary source of new business, and your referrals are both welcome and most sincerely appreciated!

Enjoy!

Do people appreciate being escorted off the dance-floor?

As both a business coach and a dance instructor, I see many things we can learn from both dancing and the dance community itself.
This “Dance Thru Life Tips” series is an attempt to share those observations (and the observations of others) with you.

Early on the social dance floor, leaders would escort the follower onto, and off the dance floor between dance numbers.  What is the recommended procedure today?

Often times, the ratio between leaders and followers are mis-aligned (more followers than leaders).  Because of this, followers are encouraged to ask the leader to dance (if the follower actually want an opportunity to dance).  This changes the game a little.

1) The follower may not appreciate being escorted all the way back off the dance floor, because then their next dance partner will already be asked for the next dance.
2) The leader may not get the opportunity to escort the follower off the dance floor, because as he attempts this — another follower taps his shoulder for the next dance.
3) If the followers waits off the dance floor for the leader to come to her for the next number, another follower may tap for a dance request before the leader can get off the dance floor.
4) Assertive followers may even position themselves directly behind the ‘future leader’, in order to easily access the next leader before someone else asks them to dance.
5) Even if the follower asks the leader ahead of time (i.e. save me the next dance), it may slip the leader’s mind as he is focusing on his current dance partner and as he is inundated with an immediate request for the next dance with someone else.

I even witnessed the results of two ladies tunnel vision for a dance from a particular leader.  They were on opposite sides of the room, focused on a particular leader-partner.  When the current song ended, they promptly proceeded toward the leader (without seeing the other).  They eventually collided and were literally floored.

What are some of your observations in this regard?

Reset after each dance and dance partner


I was dancing with a friend and he was uncharacteristically pushing, pulling and jerking me around the dance floor.  I took this opportunity to maneuver me into a closed position with him and asked him if everything was okay; was he doing okay; or if there was something bothering him.  He said, “No?  Why do you ask?”
“Well, you are being uncharacteristically rough.  I am only mentioning it – -because it’s not normally like you.”
His brow wrinkled as he tried to figure out what was going on.  He then suddenly laughs and apologizes.  “I know what happened.  I was just dancing with a very, very beginner.  I don’t think she even had a dance lesson.  I guess I was still programmed to push you through the moves.  I’m really sorry.”

The moral of this story:  Reset after each partner.

  • Each partner will be different:  a different experience level; a different style; a different music interpretation; a different dance conversation.
  • Even if you have danced with this person before; reset because they will always be getting better (more moves and quicker response times).
  • Start every lead with a soft-touch and easy moves.  Starting with a soft-connection and easy moves allows you to quickly determine the skill-set of your partner.  If they are experienced, they will easily and quickly respond to the light leads (and you can increase the complication of the dance sequences).  If they need a stronger lead, you can than incrementally increase the firmness of your lead appropriately.
  • Avoid starting every lead with a strong or firm lead.  A strong or firm lead (or hold) actually constrains and limits the more experienced dancer.  It actually limits what your partnership can co-create on the dance floor.  On the other hand, a strong and firm lead supports the beginner dancer.

Reseting your mind, assumptions, and dance techniques after each dance — allows for the fullest expression of both partners.

This is the same in life.  Reset or release previous assumptions and intepretations of previous conversations.  You are not the same person you were when you had that previous encounter.  They are not the same person they were when you have that previous encounter.  Both sides have personally and professionally developed.  Both sides have increased their network and connections.  By keeping ahold of your old thoughts of this contact, you may be limiting your co-creative and collaborative opportunities.

Try that trick and see what happens both for your dancing and your life.

If you are interested in knowing how to take these  concepts into the professional environment, please sign up for my professional and career management (free) newsletter at
or cut/paste this into your browser: http://eepurl.com/cZ9_-/

Feel free to share this newsletter with your family, friends and colleagues. My business relies on satisfied clients as the primary source of new business, and your referrals are both welcome and most sincerely appreciated!

Managing your instructor

Comment for the week:  I recently moved out of state and found a group salsa class that I am enjoying.  The problem is that the instructor doesn’t spend much time on technique and the class time runs out before he can complete the move.  He also selects new moves each week, without completing the previous week’s move.  I don’t know if I am learning much from him because I am often stuck in a middle of a move without understanding how to exit properly.

First — congratulations for arriving in a new town and jumping onto the group class setting.  Taking group dance classes is a great and non-intimidating way to introduce yourself into a new community of people with the same interests and personality.  My hat goes off to you.  Kudos!

Secondly — instructors that teach multiple classes at multiple levels every week tend to forget which move they taught in which class.  Often times the classes are not progressive and seem more of a hodge-podge of whatever move the instructor is thinking about at the time.  There’s nothing wrong with this method of teaching.  But is can be sometimes very frustrating, especially when they run out of class time to complete the move.   There are several things you can do to “Manage Your Instructor” (as well as your boss, your family, your life).  Even though he/she is the instructor, they are essentially working for you.  You have paid them to teach you certain moves and techniques.  Diplomatically speak up when you have questions.
Here are some ideas:

1) Jog their memory:
“Mr. Instructor, I have a question from last week’s great move.  Last week you introduced the XYZ move (–or if you don’t know the name of the move, ‘a move that went like this’).  Can you quickly review how to exit out of that?”
Your instructor genuinely does want to help. The instructor still knows the move he taught last week.   He just doesn’t automatically recall that he taught it last week.  This will jog his memory and you are on your way.
2) Ask permission to video a summary of the class.
“Mr. Instructor, I want to be able to practice this move correctly.  Can I ask you to demonstrate the entire move once for my camera?”
Your instructor genuinely does want to help.  He does want you to practice.  This way — even if he/she hasn’t covered the entire move in class, the demonstration will illustrate how to get out of the move.
3) Get the name of the move.
“Mr. Instructor.  Tell me the name of this move again.  What is this called?”
Jot the name and some clues to jog your memory.  Then go onto YouTube and search for this move.  Often times you will find other instructors illustrating that same move.  You will not get the technique or the proper lead mentoring — but you will discover how to exit from it.
4) Keep a Dance Journal:
Keep a small diary of all your moves.  Take notes directly after class.  This way you can take it will you to dances and flip through the pages to job your memory of all the moves you already know.  Often times we remember the last few moves that we have learned.  This means that we are allowing several really great moves (that we learned last season) to fall off our radar.  If you log them in a dance journal, you can radomly open the book to any page and deliberately decide to dust off previously practiced (but forgotten) moves.
5) Complete group lessons with privates:
Many of my students top off their group classes with a private lesson with me.  Often time the pace of the group lessons can not accommodate detail technique discussions or fit the pace of everyone in class.  Even though you get the jest of the move in the group classes, it may fall short on the real dance floor because  the proper follow/lead technique did not fully come across.  By this I mean that — since many of the people on the real dance-floor DID NOT take that same class, the move may not get the same response as it did in class.  So, many students come to me (in private lessons) to smooth out the rough edges and increase their percentage of success in leading or following this particular move.  I also show them variations of the same move (provide additional entrances and exits, modification for beginners and advanced, etc) — so the same move has many different looks to it.  Having a different instructor for the group and private also gives you multiple perspective and styling options.   It’s a really good way to play.

My private class rates are extremely reasonable (certain package rates are as low as $25/hour).

Try some of these tricks and let me know what happens.

Disengage from results.

You will get much further in life if you relax and disengage from the results. Results are often delayed and sometimes unexpected. Results are neither good or bad. Results are just results…just more data to which to play. The faster you make a decision and execute on it, the faster you will get a result and more data. You can then take your next step based on that new data.

The thing that trips us up, is the false premise that we can misstep.  This is impossible; for every step uncovers more data.  The revealed data either illustrates that you are closer to your desires OR that you need to alter slightly to get closer to your desires.  This false premise often delays us from even taking that first step.

This is the same with dancing. You will have more fun on the dance floor, if you relax and disengage from the results. In the dance class, the instructor will correctly focus on technique, proper posture, frame, and steps.  This is because the class room is utopia. Everyone is doing the same things, the dance floor is spacious, your lesson partner is cooperative and the instructor is cuing the sequence of moves. In the dance class, you will most likely get exactly what you expect. But the social dance floor is different.

If the dance class is utopia, then the social dance floor is a battlefield. You will have flickering lights in an otherwise dark space, strangers flowing in and out of you dance slot, dance traffic moving all around you, different conversations over the music, and your partner expecting you to smile and talk as well. You get the picture. It’s not exactly the same at atmosphere as in class. Therefore, it’s ridiculous to expect the same results as in class.
The planned  moves may get executed properly (but who really cares). More likely than not, you may have to short cut a move because another couple has unintentionally moved into that space.  Your partner response is slower or quicker than partners you had  in class. Or maybe your lead was a little  slower or a little sloppier than the partner expected and they executed or interpreted a different move. Either way it’s okay.  Either way the experience created a new move or new direction.

Release your control over how exactly the move is supposed to take flight.  That’s where all the fun is.

Dance Thru Life