Friday, October 18, 2013

Knight's Take - A Pro's Look at Ballroom Dancing

Forever dancing...

Stephen Knight, FADS Co-National Dance Director

When it comes to learning to ballroom dance, the possibilities are endless. Those who want to succeed at higher and higher levels must possess two very important qualities above all: patience and the ability to follow the learning systems in place.

In my travels to FADS studios all over the country, there’s that question that arises on so many lessons, whether it’s a professional couple or a Pro/Am partnership. That question is: “When am I going to be a good dancer?” My answer to that is: “Your definition of ‘good’ will keep changing because the longer you study, the more knowledge you’ll gain. Therefore, you’ll continue to want to perfect some new technique you just learned.”

Keep reminding yourself of the fact that, yes, you are learning new things! Learning takes learning. And that’s totally positive.  Each small step you make in your learning tells you that you really are getting better, and soon you’ll be ready for new information on your quest to being the best you can be!

My other advice involves following the systems that Fred Astaire Dance Studios has in place for a very simple reason: they were designed to get dancers to their goals. Too many times dancers find themselves backtracking as a result of skipping something earlier that was crucial to the whole learning process. For example, two problems I often see are a lack of ankle and foot strength. 

Dancers should work on their feet and ankles at the very beginning of the Bronze Program. Studying foot and ankle actions eliminates movement issues, balance concerns, commitment problems, speed, and problems with confidence. Too many times when I’m training a dancer, they will say to me, “I have no balance. Why not?” The reason is that their feet and ankles are untrained, so they’re weak.

Again,  this type of frustration that can be avoided simply by following the order of our systems. As long as dancers keep to the systems, they’ll make progress at a maximum rate. 

And never minimize the importance of patience. It’s not only a virtue in reaching for higher levels of achievement:  it’s a requirement!  Think about it: ballroom dancing is so many things to many people. It’s been called an art, a sport, a science, exercise, and a hobby.  It’s complex and it’s personal. Just the fact that dancing can is described in so many different ways tells you it’s going to take some time to find your groove! 

There’s one more very important point. Be your own judge of your own progress.  Forget all about comparing yourself to others because (thankfully) we are all different!

To happily dance, you’ve got to enjoy your own ride.

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