Sharing The Joy Of Dancing


I hear all of the time: "I need more patterns". "I'm bored with these patterns". When in fact the student can't dance the patterns they do know. They don't need more patterns; they need to put some feeling into them. The patterns are boring because they have no feeling and are lifeless. The student needs to think of their dancing differently. If you are dancing and a deaf person walks into the ballroom, he/she should be able to tell what you are dancing. If the deaf person can't determine visually what you are dancing, then you are just dancing foot patterns.

I have said many times: "Dancing is what happens between the steps". For example: There are many box steps. What happens between the steps determines if it is a Rumba, Waltz, etc. If I have Slow, Quick, Quick timing, toe steps, Latin Motion, etc. it's a Rumba. The same box step with 1, 2, 3 timing, heel steps, rise and fall, sway, etc. makes the box a Waltz.

In my opinion, the boredom comes from not having any feeling between the partners. If the dancers are just moving through foot patterns in front of each other, this eventually becomes tedious and mechanical. Any pattern, no matter how basic, can be exciting and fun if the partnership has feeling. I have danced complete songs just using the box pattern, and my partner and I were not bored and had a great time. There is so much that can go on in a box step to create the feeling in the partnership.

Students have a tendency to think that after they can walk through a pattern, they know it. That is just the beginning. The hard part to learn in dancing is what happens between the steps. I don't teach anything that can't be led because the partnership is where all of the feeling resides. Many students think that the lady wants all of these different patterns, when in fact she would rather have the feeling.

All of the responsibility doesn't fall on the leader. The lady also needs to be able to correctly respond to the lead. I actually don't like the term "lead and follow". This implies that the man does something, and then the lady does something. In reality, the man leads and the lady participates in the lead, the lady adds to the lead, she embellishes the lead, she is part of the lead. As a trained dancer the lady understands this concept.

Don't be so concerned about the number of foot patterns that you know in a specific dance. It is more important that you understand how to create the unique feeling of the dance. I have my male students dance a lot as ladies. This gives them an understanding of the feeling he is trying to create for the lady. Once you can create the specific feeling of a dance in a few basic patterns, that feeling will be propagated into the new patterns that you learn, automatically.

The goal should be to learn to dance between the steps and have that partner become "one" with you. The partnership is what communicates the feeling of the dance to your other half, so you both can become "one" entity on the dance floor. The partnership aspect should be developed in your basic patterns as well.

A deaf person uses what he/she sees going on between the steps to determine what dance you are performing. Give that person something to look at!!