This is a very common situation that ALL dancers have had to tackle. The simple answer is... JUST DO IT! Though simple doesn't mean easy, going out dancing does take a bit of courage. When you're having your lessons with your Instructor, or taking group lessons with fellow students, it's comfortable. This is understandable to everyone. We are VERY FORTUNATE in the Pittsburgh area to have Many great venues to go out and truly experience a great night of dancing. Most of the dances have a basic class prior to the dance, so you can meet other dance enthusiasts. You might not dance the entire night (There are only so many partners) but after going to a few of the dances, you'll get antiquated with many people and that will translate into having more dances. The more dances you attend, the more comfortable you will become. That's why we take dance lessons, TO DANCE! So get out there, Trip the light fantastic! You are a DANCER!
The Value of PRACTICE !
Many of you have decided to take lessons to learn to dance. For that I applaud you ! But just like anything, lessons are just that first step in your progress. Practicing what you have learned is the only way to truly develope your dancing. But what to practice? When to practice? And where to practice? Are just some of the questions that will arise. Well let me help to answer a few of those questions. Based on my expierence, the first thing to practice are your BASE components. Patterns are awesome, but its the componets found within the patterns that are most important. Chasse, or triple steps. Rock steps, or BREAKS. Even the basic box steps, etc, are the areas that should garner the most attention. And these componets do not need a partner, or space to practice. Getting these componets into your muscle memory will allow you to keep your mind free to concentrate on your patterns, and your ability to manuever around the dance floor. This leads to the next question, WHERE ! Well at Steel City Ballroom, active students are more than welcome to come in and practice at the studio. Your living room is fine, but a studio is better :) Group lessons that are below your level of dancing are also a fantastic way to practice. Not only will you already know the material being taught, but you will be able to develope your lead/follow by dancing with students under your level. And the bonus is you'll be helping them to get better at the same time ! Pretty cool to give back a little. But the best place to practice is at a dance ! Yes out in the real dance world ! That was the goal anyway, so go out and do it. Its perfectly fine to go out and dance a few patterns to a dance. You will get used to the crowded floors, and different levels that share the dancefloor that much quicker. And everytime you dance, you will add more material. But you will be out having fun with your dancing ! Enjoy what it is you can do comfortably, don't compare yourself to others. You have no idea how long those people have been dancing, whatever you do now is great, tomarrow you'll be better ! And so on and so on............ Everyday, WE get better at dancing! So this leaves when to practice. Well first I should say, not until you totally understand what it is you are practcing. No need to develope a bad habit by practicing something incorrectly. If you have a question, STOP !!!! Ask your instructor to make sure you are correct, Then practice away. I believe that practice should be fun, and for componets a few minutes a day is a great start. As for patterns, and timing, a few songs at a time is the way to go. But at a party, dance as much as you can. I hope this helps you, I know practice helps me :)
The TRUE value of the BASICS
Hello to all the Dancers in the Pittsburgh Area, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about something that has become a bad word......... THE BASICS ! The term basic just brings out the bad thoughts that we are regressing, when in fact its through our basics that we can truly progress. The basic patterns that we learn are the fundamentals, or components to all of our advanced patterns. But more important, they are the very best patterns to use when you are working on technique. I am fortunate that I'm an instructor, because I'm always working with new students. So I do my basics hundreds of times a day. It gives me the daily opportunity to hone my technical skills, like rise and fall, shaping, Cuban motion, footwork, etc. When working on these intricate technical items, the more basic the patterns are, the better. The basic BOX step is probably the best tool there is to develop proper technique. The pattern is so ingrained in our muscle memory that it allows us to focus on the more important elements to our dancing. The advanced patterns are usually so intricate that it takes all of our focus to just do the pattern on time, so that leaves no time for the technique to be executed. Take a moment everyday to just dance your basics with the higher level of technique that you've been working on. You will quickly see that those basics, are now advanced patterns. Its always how you execute your patterns that determines your dance level, not where you patterns rank. I hope this helps.
Remembering your Beginning
As a dance professional for 23 years I have accomplished many things in the dance world. But one thing is the driving force behind my passion. That at one time I couldn't dance! Actually, to be completely honest, I was TERRIBLE !!! I was confused, intimidated, just felt like a fool. But with the help and encouragement of some very special people, I was able to get back up and try one more time. It is this that I share as my tip of the week. Pay your success forward!!! All of you who have achieved success in your dancing deserve all the credit for your hard work, so please don't read this wrong. But I guarantee you didn't do it alone. I'm not talking about your instructors, I'm sure they did a fantastic job getting you to the level you are today. I'm referring to those ADVANCED dancers that helped to build your confidence by encouraging you along the way. They danced with you, were patient with you, and had fun with you when you were new to this wonderful world of dance. They took the time to mentor you on the do's and don'ts, helped clarify the patterns you were dancing, and educated you on the etiquette of the dance world. But yet many of us become somewhat of a SNOB when we finally become an "ADVANCED" dancer. We shun those who are trying to become a member to our fraternity. WHY ? As I stated earlier, I was a terrible dancer in the beginning, I have never forgotten that. I strive every day to be better than the day before. The biggest part of that is to dance with new dancers. Not just as a teacher, but when I go out dancing. I absolutely LOVE it. Yes I enjoy dancing with top notch dancers, but there is something so rewarding to be gained from dancing with someone who is new to dancing. A true sense of giving back. So I ask you, with all sincerity, pay your success forward, dance with a new dancer. Share your talents, you will be rewarded greatly! I know this to be true. I say all the time, AN ACCOMPLISHED DANCER CAN DANCE WITH ANYONE! So be all you can be, leave no one behind, you'll thank me! Happy dancing everyone!
C. Christopher Roth is the Owner / Director of Steel City Ballroom in Pittsburgh, PA. He has been teaching for over 30 years and is an 11 Time Pro/Am Top Teacher