This post contains additional tips for new dancers who are looking for the right group classes to fit their goals in ballroom dancing, as well as their daily schedules and lifestyles.
"Which is better, monthly series classes or drop-ins?"
Both have advantages. If you want a sense of progress, reaching predicable levels of skill, series classes are the way to go. Consistent learning can't be replaced by picking up classes now and then.
With a series class, you also have a better chance of finding a balance of leaders and followers.
Nevertheless, drop-ins can be valuable for several reasons: You can learn new tips or review a dance you're currently taking in a series class. Drop-ins are a convenient way to explore dance styles you are not yet pursuing in a series. You can experience the teaching methods of an instructor without signing up for that instructor's monthly class.
Traditionally included with the admission price for a night of social dancing, a drop-in can be a bargain, while giving you a preview of the dancers who regularly attend a dance studio, recreation center or club.
If you can't commit to a class at a set time every week, then drop-ins may fit your current lifestyle. Blend these classes with some private lessons, and you have a promising combination for starting to dance.
Certain classes permit students to sign up either on a series or a drop-in basis. However, dance studios usually charge more for each drop-in than you would pay per class for a series package.
"Should I start with one beginning series class or several?"
Some factors to think about: The spare time you have for evening recreation, the cost of classes, your capacity for patiently absorbing new information, overall fitness, and whether you're preparing for a special events in the near future, like weddings or ocean cruises.
Instructors have seen excited new dancers thrive on taking different beginning classes several nights each week. Unfortunately, they've also seen overly ambitious dancers "burn out" during their first months. This is a personal decision, based on interest, stamina, and a willingness to pace yourself.
Never underestimate your capacity to learn, but know your limitations.
You may find it helpful to enroll in two or three different series classes that share similar fundamentals: An example would be Foxtrot and Waltz. Posture, frame, hold, footwork and even many patterns are interchangeable. Of course the music, timing, and "feel" of the dances are not the same.
If you become confused while studying more than one dance style, reduce the load and focus on a style you like the most. On the other hand, if taking two or more classes at a time is helpful, consider continuing that system, as long as you can do it comfortably. Ask a trusted instructor who has watched you in classes or private lessons for an opinion about the number of classes on your calendar.
Whatever your schedule and conditioning permit, it's important to realize that every group class you truly enjoy, whether it's a drop-in or a series—once a week or several times a week—makes you a better dancer.
Hope to see you on the dance floor!
© 2013, Cheryl Burke Dance. All rights reserved.