I know what you're thinking, "Ballroom Dancing is not a sport!", but you'd be wrong. Ballroom Dancing uses the same muscles as golf, tennis, softball and many other sports including the most important, the brain. It takes as much upper body strength to dance as leg strength. In other words, unlike many other sports or exercises, it is a whole body experience. If you are looking for a way to get in shape and stay in shape, there is nothing like Ballroom Dancing. The great part is that you're having so much fun, you don't know that you're exercising! The National Olympic committee is considering it for inclusion in the Olympics!
There are two (2) major levels of American Style Ballroom Dancing, social and competitive. While both are enjoyable, we will be discussing social dancing. What, you might ask, is social dancing? The answer is simple, it is the kind of dancing you do at weddings, anniversary parties, tea dances and local dances. It requires training to get the desired "feeling". Dancing at its best is what happens between the steps. In other words, it's not the number of foot patterns you know but what you do with them. This is what we call the "feeling" of Ballroom dancing.
American Style Ballroom dancing includes two (2) types of dances, Smooth and Latin. The Smooth dances are Foxtrot, Waltz, Tango, Quickstep, Viennese Waltz, etc. The Latin dances are Rumba, Cha Cha, Samba, Mambo, E.C. Swing, etc. The difference between Smooth and Latin is very simple. Smooth travels around the floor in a line of dance and Latin does not travel and has Cuban motion (hip action).
Ballroom dancing is done by all ages and levels. You can learn to Ballroom dance at 13 or 100 (or any age in between). Doctors will tell you that it is a great cardiovascular non-impact exercise and any Chiropractor will tell you that it is great for the spine because it stretches it out to its fullest without causing pain. The great thing about social dancing is that you can dance at the level you feel comfortable with; i.e. beginning, gentle and easy, or advance, athletic and complex.
Although you might be able to watch and imitate other dances, you can not become a good Ballroom dancer without lessons. This is because Ballroom dancing is 90% allusion and this can not be imitated it must be felt. Every good dancer will tell you, no matter the dance, that a good instructor can save you years of frustration because he/she can show you how to obtain the "feeling" that is dance. Partnership is a key element of Ballroom dancing in that it takes two to dance, however, if the man can not provide the "feeling" both will miss out on the incredible joy that is Ballroom dancing at its best.
The goal of partnership in dancing is to become one with your partner. The dance frame, which is the basis for lead and follow, accomplishes this goal. Although both partners must understand this dynamic, it is of utmost importance that the man understand his role in making this happen. The man creates, initiates and plans ahead while the lady dances one step at a time (the one she can feel). The lady dances with the man's body and the man dances with the music. This is lead and follow. If a gentlemen has a good lead, he can dance with any lady at any time or place and she will want dance with him time and time again.
In my experience women are always openly eager to learn to dance but can't get their male partners interested. Most men secretly have always wanted to dance but they feel that dancing is something you are born with or that it is a mystical skill which is not learnable. This could not be further from the truth. Ballroom dancing is very logical and based on physics and geometry. With this approach is it easy to understand but like any other sport it takes repetition to make it comfortable and fun.
The next question you might ask is where do I learn to dance? The one place that I am aware there is an on going dance is the first four Friday evenings at the Adult Center in Prescott. Check your local paper for times and places of current and future events. In writing this article, I am hoping to encourage an interest in Ballroom dancing which will not only support these dances but encourage others.
Then you might ask, where can I learn to dance? I currently teach a four week series non-credit course for Yavapai College on Thursday nights. These classes are held at Washington Traditional School, Gurley Street, Prescott. I also teach a four week series group class at the Adult Center in Prescott on Friday night prior to the dances.