Sharing The Joy Of Dancing


Previously, I have talked about how the female dancer learns from the "music down" and the male dancer learns from the "floor up". This is just one of the ways that the female dancer is different. The female side of the two-headed four-legged animal is very different from the male side. The idiosyncrasies that follow, I have discovered while teaching ladies of all ages and back grounds. Approximately 95% of the females I have taught fall into the category that I am going to describe.

Ladies have a tendency to lead in the beginning. This is simply their survival mechanism. If the man doesn't lead she will. Ladies with formal ballet training are the hardest to teach in the beginning because they are trained dancers in another form of dancing and have to re-train themselves.

Ladies like to "spin" as they call it. They turn as fast as they can and all of the spins are the same. They try to rotate through the muscles of the legs instead of being toned in the legs and letting their feet swivel on the floor. There are no "spins" (as described here) in ballroom dancing, but there are many different types of turns. The speed of the turn is determined by the leader and the lady leverages off of the man using his power. This is a trained four legged animal action.

Ladies always naturally bring their feet together instead of passing their feet when moving forward. For example: When the lady walks forward in a Rumba Cross Body Lead she will invariably bring her feet together and change weight on the second forward step. This is easily fixed but there is something built in that makes them do it initially. I haven't been able to figure out where this comes from but almost every woman will do it.

For some reason most ladies have what I call a "wandering leg". When moving backwards in a Bronze Foxtrot Basic, for example, one of their backwards steps will stray out to the side. When it is brought to their attention, it is fixed.

Heel leads are an on-going problem when dancing Smooth or Standard. Most of the ladies were taught at an early age by their mothers to "NOT" drag their heels when walking in high heels. This does, however, help the ladies when dancing Latin or Rhythm because of the toe steps. In this day and age where most ladies don't where heels, they are a little insecure until they get used to the heels.

When I teach ladies, I try to dance them through the pattern or element and get them to feel what to do, then explain how it works later to tune up and improve the movement. The ladies usually pick it up quickly. Here is where the problem starts. The ladies expect the man to learn it just as quickly. They expect it to feel the same as when the instructor leads it. What is going on as a man and ladies in the dance partnership is very different. The leader is trying to make the ladies movements as natural as possible. The leader has to do some seemingly unnatural things for this to occur. So the man has to override some of his natural feelings to make this work. The leader has to know what he is trying to get the lady to do and how to get her there. He basically has to know her part and his part which are very different. He has to be planning what he is going to do next while he is executing the last thing he planned. Then there is the music, floor craft, etc., etc... I know it can be frustrating for the ladies, but the man needs a lot more time to be able to dance the same pattern. Ladies please be patient.

These are just a few of the thing that need to be changed to dance in partnership. Learning how all of these things work and being able to execute them in regard to a two-headed, four-legged animal is the definition of a "Trained Ballroom Dancer". This is not something that is easily accomplished if you only take group lessons. It is easier to do if you at least practice what you learned immediately after learning it to begin to get in muscle memory.