Ladies. Gentleman. Becoming a good dancer can be a fantastic experience if you ask me. Being a bad dancer can be a horrible thing too. I am probably sure that you have heard the expression… So, can you learn to be a good dancer? Yes, you can!
If you are a lead, you have been taught that you are supposed to compensate for the lady who is struggling with your dance steps.
This might mean slowing down a little bit or changing the moves you are using or being more clear on what you would like her to do. Don’t you agree?
Here is the part where this might get crazy. The fact that you are supposed to compensate for your partner’s shortcomings doesn’t make you at fault for every mistake that happens, in other words, a bad dancer.
Don’t get wrong here, compensation is a great thing to have under your belt. The sad reality is that there’s only a certain amount you can compensate for.
You can’t magically turn a beginner dancer to follow you into a master simply by you having a great lead.
If the follow doesn’t have the technique and or the necessary groups of steps and makes a mistake, that mistake is the follow’s. If they don’t step in the right place, or they lose balance, or they backlead, that is their ‘mistake’.
When I was learning to dance, as a lead, I was told that everything that went wrong was the leader’s fault. Boy was I wrong about this!
The surprising truth in this matter is that mistakes happen – both for leads and follows. You need to learn to take responsibility for avoiding a mistake or helping to fix them if you have the proper knowledge on how to do it, even if you didn’t cause it.
This is one of the great characteristics to have to be a good dancer.
The roots of a Bad Dancer
A lot of people think that it’s only the beginner dancers who have bad habits. In my personal experience, as a dance instructor for more than 20 years, that’s not always the case. I am surprised to find that this is an issue that happens to all levels of dancing ( beginner, intermediate and advanced )
If you’ve been to be dancing for while and you are wondering why people dent want to dance with you, or no one asks you to dance… it’s worth asking the question Am I a good dancer? Am I a bad dancer? It is healthy to do this assessment from a dance partner’s point of view.
What is a simple definition of habit?
It is an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary. Like you getting up early from force of habit.
How does habit form?
No one wants to pick up bad habits but they seem to be easy to form unless they’re picked up early.
Habits form from the 3 easy part habit loop:
1. A cue or trigger, that sends you into automatic mode into the behavior
2. Routine, which is the behavior taking place
3. Reward, something that your brain likes and which encourages the habit to continue in the future.
The more you do a behavior, the more automatic it becomes and the harder to break. Simple right?
Now that we have a glance at the roots of a bad dancer and at the same time the opportunity to be a good dancer it is time to learn what to do or not to do in your dancing
So, let begin
To touch or not to touch
Music is necessary for dancing. Touch is necessary for social dancing. This can be as simple and innocent as an open hand hold to a full-body contact.
All this, of course, depends on the style of dance. It is, also safe to assume, that this physical contact can and most likely change by the response from your dance partner.
These touches, my friends, are dance-touch. These are how you communicate – lead with the other dancer for the purposes of creating a fun and safe dance experience.
A good dancer understands that a dance-touch can change over time.
These changes can be based on several things like:
– what style you dance,
– your personal comfort levels, and
– how long you’ve been dancing.
On the flip side of this coin, the other type is non-dance touch. Non-dance touch is any touch that you don’t feel is part of dancing. That simple.
These can be sexual, or completely platonic. These are the kind that doesn’t serve or contribute to the dance experience.
The art of touch
When I was learning to become a Ballroom dance instructor in my early beginning I was taught that eye contact and having a very good sense of touch is so important for dancing and the more I practice it and apply it, the easier it will be to connect with the dance partner.
Here is another great quality of a good dancer to cultivate specialty if not something you have developed over time. This is the tool that helps you connect, and communicate with your partner without speaking.
A bad dancer will have a bad habit or the tendency to keep your head down when you dancing, or look at other things instead of your partner and forgetting to communicate the proper lead in every step.
The art of touch entails that you understand every person you dance with is different, therefore, you must remember this to help you better connect with others
Try this but only when you, lead, knows the step to a tea
So, learn a new step or pattern, as you practice it, and you feel you are getting better at executing it to the point you own it.
Ladies try to follow with your eyes close and gentlemen try to lead it with your eyes close as well.
By doing it this way you definitely will apply and practice your sense of touch, because you are compelled to feel where your partner is at all times as you try to execute the component or pattern by default.
I always get such a positive response from my student. It is like liberating they would say after being done.
Evaluate your partner's response
This can be hard to tell at times but I think it is not that complicated to see if someone is not comfortable with a particular touch.
I created a small list of the common to look after:
– Your dance partner is pushing away
– No eye contact (where it didn’t exist before)
– Resisting a particular movement or leaning away
– An actively unhappy face or even a smile
– Very, very neutral or careful body behavior
– Readjusting the point of contact (physically moving your hand away)
This is a small but powerful list to keep in mind when you are dancing because it will help you evaluate your partner and help you create a better dance experience with them.
Avoid the bad dancer behavior and embrace the greatness of a good dancer.
A good dancer avoid dangerous zone
In my social dancing career, I have seen this crazy phenomenon that applies to leaders and followers. I’m going to describe it with these two words: Dips and 5k Spins. OK. It is more like 3 words…
Guys, just because you like doing dips, doesn’t mean your partner will want to do one with you or is capable of doing one.
Be a good dancer by asking upfront if they like doing dips and then listen to their answer. Disregarding their answer and their level of dancing will place you in the bad dancer category.
This is a fact.
If your dance partner is comfortable with dips and or spins, good for you but this doesn’t end there, you must ensure that the follower is in the right position before you actually put them into drops or spins.
Ladies, just because he asks and you say yes… doesn’t mean you are taking the initiative to fling yourself into a drop. Do wait to be led and get into the correct position.
If you don’t feel comfortable or don’t know a drop, then don’t try it.
In terms of the multiple spinning, one of the biggest complaints I hear from the ladies is they get irritated when the guys want to incessantly do this without listening to or feeling the music or noticing their energy level at that particular dance.
They continue to add, not every song calls for a 5,000 spin point and a dip in the middle of the song.
A lot of times it seems like a lot of leads get caught up in trying to do every turn pattern and trick they ever learned in one song and that turn pattern or trick may not be suitable to all the songs ( I’m referring to musicality here ).
Check the article I wrote about Musicality here
Many times it’s not so much the complexity of what you can do- but, how you choose to execute it and fit it musically into that particular song.
If you can execute very simple patterns to the correct timing and are in line with the musicality you will more than likely always be a favorite dance of many follows… aka good dancer. Just saying.
I would like to make this section nice and easy. Let’s share just a handful of things a good dancer knows and do on the dance floor. So, what makes a good dancer?
A good dancer
1. Good dancer is always watching out for the safety of their partner on the floor, and will not be going to have them run into anyone else (he’s not so caught up in his own turn pattern marathon where he forgets that this is VERY KEY)!
2. The lead is attentively listening to the music, and moving their partner with it and not against it.
3. A good lead is giving eye contact and a good sense of touch making the follow feel special during that particular dance.
4. A sign of a good dancer is that he isn’t trying to hold a conversation with you throughout the dance
5. A good dancer understands there is no need to manhandle their dance partner- like being held with a tight grip of the hands, being thrown around the floor, restricted with your movement by being held too tight around the back, etc…
6. and finally, When the leader has picked a style of dancing like on1 or on2 and he stays with it throughout the dance. This is another sign of a good dancer.
A bad dancer
And now I’m going to give you a small list of what is a bad dancer. In no particular order:
1. Bad dancer has a unique habit of death grip, especially while turning. Lateral force plus finger joints = no happy times for their partner.
2. A bad dancer, ladies, like to backlead, over styling, and hijack as she pleases. Please trust me to give me my space to do my thing kind of thing.
3. Giving a half-ash effort. If you don’t want to dance — with me or just in general at that point in time — just say no. You aren’t being kind and doing me a favor by saying yes and then giving me nothing to work with.
4. The letting go effect. This disrupts what it is planned to do. If I don’t need your hand at a given point in time I’ll let it go. Unless you’re trying to avoid injury, maintain the connection.
5. Another one is poor tension. Partially ties into the collision avoidance thing mentioned before but is also important to mention because it tends to correspond with the follower getting too far away.
The simple solution
Now that we have looked at the reasons for being a bad dancer, let’s look at some solutions to being a good dancer.
I want to share with you that in my personal life, as well as my career, as a ballroom dance instructor there is only one thing that you can do that will bring everything to come to place if you just do it…
Here it is… Make the decision to be a good dancer! The keyword here is MAKE THE DECISION to be one.
This is by far the very first step to make that will bring enormous power to fulfill everything you want to achieve as a dancer. It is in this moment that your whole being will be aligned with what you have chosen to do.
Your next step to becoming a good dancer is: Find a dance instructor that knows and has the experience but, most important, he or she has the way you want to look on the dance floor. Right! Having a mentor will help you become a better dancer. I promise you.
When you feel sick, you go to the doctor. When your car has problems, you go to a mechanic. If you’re struggling with being a good dancer, you might need some training, you need some lessons.
If you’re ready to take the plunge, visit our Course page here.
The next step is very simple but requires you to have a good but healthy habit that will allow you to get there fast.
The habit is to Practice Intentionally. By doing this, every repetition you’re doing will cement the information in your brain and body ( aka Muscle memory ) and, as a result, this is how you’ll build confidence in your rhythm, balance, expression, and much more.
Tada! There you have it The simple solution I promise.
Guys. Becoming a good dancer or a bad dancer can be an awesome or really bad experience for you and your dance partner.
So, What makes a good dancer? Well, learn to be mindful of the concept from this article like:
1. Understand the roots of a Bad Dancer.
2. Learn to know when to touch or not to touch.
3. Make sure to avoid the use of the Dangerous zone.
These are just the start of a solid foundation, but practice and determination will be your best friend as well AND this will be how to become a good dancer at home if you chose to give it a try.
Strive to be a good dancer always