Dance parties are for fun, lessons are for new steps...
Studio dance parties are ideal opportunities to enjoy social dancing, practice steps learned during classes or lessons, meet new people and relax from work-related stress.
In attempting to be helpful, sometimes dancers correct their partners or show them new moves during parties. They may feel this is beneficial, but it can also make the evening less pleasant. If dancers simply remain aware of the following guidelines, their weekend social dancing may turn out to be the most fun they've had all week:
• The leader is expected to accommodate the skill level of a follower and convey a sense of complete acceptance for that level. The job of the leader is to lead, not instruct.
• A good leader assumes the right dance position (or "frame"), makes a gentle connection with the follower, and within the first few steps determines patterns that will be comfortable for both of them.
• Similarly, whenever followers who may be more advanced than their leaders graciously follow basic steps and patterns, they are ensuring a more positive experience for everyone.
• When observing standard ballroom courtesy, leaders should avoid dancing "above" a follower's level of skill. One of the goals at any dance is to make partners look good on the floor. That will not happen if the steps or patterns are beyond their level.
• If you're not sure about a follower's skills, start dances with the basics. If your follower quickly picks up on what you're doing, you might gradually increase patterns from beginning toi ntermediate, watching closely how the transition progresses.
• Appreciate the enthusiasm of beginners. They will get better with time – without hearing unsolicited dance tips from fellow dancers. If you're more advanced, dancing with beginners offers a valuable chance to focus on your own technique, your timing and your frame.
• Usually beginners make up the largest percentage of social dancers at a studio party. Most of the others are intermediate dancers. Advanced dancers are traditionally the smallest percentage. Treating everyone equally is actually "social dance insurance." Today's beginner could be your favorite dance partner next year, a champion dancer in several years – or your dance coach a few years later!
• Accepting instructions for new footwork or relying on corrections by fellow dancers at a dance can be risky. The best source for reliable suggestions has always been a professional instructor or an experienced coach.
Trust your instructors, trained to spot mistakes in group classes and private lessons, to make corrections and introduce trickier patterns at an appropriate time.
Meanwhile, please remember: Parties are for fun, not instruction.
Hope to see you on the dance floor!
Cheryl Burke Dance Studios are located in two California locations: Mountain View and Laguna Niguel. For more information, see cherylburkedance.com and click on the studio "Contact Us" or studio Facebook pages.
© 2012, Cheryl Burke Dance, LLC. All rights reserved.