The beginning Ballroom Dancer enters a completely new environment of music, movement and terminology that is unlike any other sport. The challenge is to participate in an environment where there is nothing else that is comparable. The closest other sport would probably be Ice Dancing (skating), but Ballroom Dancing is very different from a partnership perspective. The following are just odds and ends that the new dancer has to adjust to and accommodate, in order to evolve into a competent Ballroom Dancer.
.Sports generally fall into two categories, individual sports and team sports. Individual sports are basically one person. Examples would be skiing, bowling, running, weight lifting, swimming, fly fishing, javelin catcher, etc. etc. Team sports involve more than one person. Some examples would be basketball, soccer, football, volleyball, synchronized swimming, hockey, etc. etc. Ballroom Dancing doesn't really fall into either category. It involves two people regarded as "one", so it isn't an individual sport and it isn't really a team sport. Ballroom Dancing combines two individuals into a "Singularity" of movement. There are no individuals and there is no team. This can be hard for a new dancer to get his or her head around.
Ballroom Dancing doesn't fall under the same physical rules as an individual's movement or of a teams play. This is a whole new physical environment for the new dancer. When we are an individual we have two-legged rules and when we are a Ballroom Singularity we have four-legged rules. All of us abide by two-legged rules although we generally don't think of them as rules but in fact they are basic rules of physics. A two-legged rule would be: "If I would like to walk across the room each foot step must progress toward the other side of the room. If my foot steps are in-place, I won't progress across the room." A four-legged rule would be: "In order to move across the room being four-legged (as a partnership), each foot step must progress and I must also move my body weight from the supporting foot because this the only foot my partner can feel. My partner cannot feel the free foot." Four-legged rules accommodate the movement of two human beings attached to each other. There are many four-legged rules.
In addition to four-legged movement and becoming a "Singularity", there is also music. Now music has to be added to the Ballroom equation. Each dance also has its own characteristics, feel and style. The goal is to synchronize the movement of the two partners (the Singularity) to the music with the feel and style of a particular dance.
It is a major challenge for the new dancer to think and act four-legged. This is an environment that doesn't exist anywhere else. It's like a new frontier. It is advantageous for both of the dancers in the partnership to be four-legged trained. However, a four-legged trained leader can be very effective with a lady with no four-legged awareness. This is because women in general, learn and move by "feeling". If the leader can create the four-legged feeling, the lady will most often respond automatically.
The new Ballroom Dancer is first concerned with "foot patterns". The man and lady are trying to figure out where the feet go. Both are walking through the same sequence of footsteps. As they progress, an awareness of lead and follow starts to enter their movements. This can be a confusing time because sometimes one instructor says one thing and another instructor may say another thing that seems to be conflicting. Most often both instructors are correct. It is just a difference of opinion. There may be many ways to do a particular thing. Remember, "There is no wrong in Ballroom Dancing, there is just better". You can have just as much fun messing it up as you can doing it right. You don't have to be perfect to have fun dancing. However, the better you dance the more satisfaction you will get out of it.
There are no absolute rules in Ballroom Dancing. Everything that is taught is just someone's opinion of how it is done. Better ways are discovered all of the time of how to do something. This is the way that the sport of Ballroom Dancing progresses.