Monthly Archives: January 2013

Opening My Eyes

open eyes

Time to start opening my eyes…

Last night, I finally opened my eyes to what should be natural and common knowledge in partner dancing:

To make eye contact and smile at your partner and have fun are just as important as how well you follow or lead.

You see, because the only dance I have a decent amount of actual training in is salsa, I am never really comfortable enough to make solid eye contact with my partner or even look like I am enjoying myself, because I am too busy counting beats and trying to make sure I am following properly. (It’s nerve-wracking following advanced moves when you only actually know how to follow a few basic steps!) It’s always a mix of fun and “don’t eff up”-thinking. In dances where there is no count, I close my eyes to heighten my sense of connection, and rarely even “see” my lead during much of the dance.

Today I looked up and saw my lead look directly into my eyes and smile at me. I smiled back, and it turned into a genuine smile, as I was able to relax a bit and worry less about screwing up.

It’s the most common knowledge and natural behaviour ever (to smile and make eye contact with your partner while social dancing). Two follows have even addressed this directly and told me how important it is.

But it took that one split second during that one dance for me to “get” it.

The most important connections come when you open your eyes, really pay attention to your partner, and make the dance fun for everyone.

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How to Fast-Track Your Social Dancing Progress

robson square ballroom dancing

I will forever prefer to get my start learning new social dances in this way: free 1/2 hour to 1 hour lesson, followed by a night of social dancing. Thanks, UBC Dance Club and Sunday Afternoon Salsa for starting me off on the right foot. 🙂

Alright — so I have been uber-bad about updating this blog, because I’ve instead started using long Facebook posts to record of my dance progress.

Today’s post, I thought, was worth re-posting, because it’s important advice that I think anyone who is just starting out social dancing (or who is learning a new social dance style) should keep in mind,

Here is the post:

“Today reinforced my perspective that social dancing is super-important to do as soon as possible in partner dancing. Unless you can afford private lessons, you will very likely only learn how to back lead during your first set of lessons (and second, third, fourth, etc. — if you continue to retake classes without trying moves out for real). You will also potentially develop bad technique, because, as a follow, you are essentially limited by the progress of your lead (leads too, if you get a full class of back leaders).

For example: No lead in any beginner tango class I have ever taken has ever been able to make follows cross properly, and I am now always the retarded follow who refuses to cross until leads learn how to make me cross, rather than doing it myself as part of a pattern. Learning your half of the move means nothing if you don’t understand what you should be feeling in order to be expected to execute a move.

And it is next to impossible to understand the connection and posture in WCS unless you dance with people who already know what they are doing.

I say all this because I know there are so many people out there who just keep repeating lessons over and over and over again, thinking that doing so is “preparing” them more each time. During my tango class rotation, I danced with a lead who had taken the class multiple times with his girlfriend, and his leading surprisingly did not feel very different from all the other leads who were taking the class for the first time. I think the reason why leads never learn the cross properly is because EVERY follow back leads the move after they learn where they need to do it.

Long explanation short: START SOCIAL DANCING ASAP.

Get your basic step/basics down so you are not completely ignorant, and then set aside a full afternoon or night of dancing to feel what it’s like to social dance the dance. It will help you connect the dots and prevent/stop bad habits from forming.”

Yeah, I write effing long Facebook posts. 😛

 

Also want to point out that becoming a part of a dance’s social scene also makes it possible for you to start asking for feedback or tips on little things you need to work on or don’t quite get.

DON’T ask for or expect full out teaching, however — that is what your lessons are for. 😉

Robson Square Sunday Afternoon Salsa

Here’s me social dancing salsa before I even knew how to dance. Wouldn’t change a thing, if I could go back and do it again. 🙂

 

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