I get new people through the doors every week to my dance classes. Some stay, some go, some go on to be dance teachers themselves, but whatever their reasons for coming along in the first place… surely one of them must have been the thought that they would like to learn to dance. Or maybe it was just fitness or better balance or co ordination?
Whatever the reasons, what makes me really sad is those people who come along maybe twice or three times and then decide that’s it all too difficult and you never see them again. Why? As a baby learning to walk we don’t give up as it too difficult! We fall over, we get up, we try again, we fall over, we get up again… until we can walk. And dancing is NOT all bout the steps. Dancing is so much more than that.
Learning to dance, or to move your body, if you’re not used to it takes time…. I mean, what did they expect? To be able to just suddenly be able to dance? If they turned up at the swimming pool and had never swum before, they would not be able to dive into the pool and pound out 25 lengths, so why do people just expect to be able to dance?
Any new hobby that you decide to do also has a set or ‘rules’ or ‘etiquette’ that goes with it – along with a complete ‘new’ language. Most hobbies have a whole new dictionary of jargon and words that are part of the hobby. Think of golf as an example – there are Fairways, Birdies, Nine Irons…. or how about Martial Arts like Karate? Age Uke, Kibadachi, Mae Geri… Or even Yoga? Tadasana, Uttanasana and Vrksana…
It really is like learning another language! But, the good news is – the more you hear all these new words, you’ll eventually learn the meanings and then it ceases to sound like a foreign language and begins to make sense.
It’s the same with dancing. All the steps have names. If you turn up to a dance class and the teacher says do a Mambo basic or a Pivot turn – if you don’t know what these ‘look’ like – you’re obviously going to be at a bit of a disadvantage. One of the most confusing elements can also be that the same step may have a different name depending on what dance genre you’re learning. A Cha Cha Basic in ballroom dancing for instance could also be called a Chasse.
But don’t worry if you don’t know your ‘Flekerl’ from your ‘Botafogo’, because dancing is not about just knowing what the steps are called. The joy is in the movement, the music and all the other hidden benefits, like increased balance, co-ordination, confidence and the feelings of well being just moving your body can give you.
Learning to dance does take time though. Time to become familiar with the step names, time to recognise the different rhythms and the beats and bars in music and time to relax and let yourself go.
So, if you’re considering going to a dance class to learn to dance – just be be gentle on yourself and have fun!