Dancing Tips from Fran
Tips for New Dancers
You came to learn so don't be afraid to jump in and try.
Attend the class that is right for your level of dancing. Once you learn a few basic steps, such as the grapevine, you will find it much easier to pick up new combinations.
Be comfortable. Wear something casual, such as jeans, that allows you to move freely and stay comfortable. Don't forget about your feet. Wear a pair of comfy, flat, closed-toed shoes.
Stand in the middle. As a new dancer, avoid standing in the back, even though you think that's the best place to be. Because dancing involves lots of turns, you could at some point find yourself in the front of the entire group! Stand somewhere in the middle, the safest place for beginners.
Always start with your feet together facing the same way as everyone else. Figure out the step you are going to do first and have your weight on the correct foot.
If you attend a dancing night at a local bar or other venue, find out if there will be an instructional period at the beginning of the event. Reviewing the steps at a slower pace can make it much easier to catch every nuance of the dance.
General Dancing Tips
Leave a few minutes early for your dance lessons and give yourself some time to warm up your body before class especially if its cold outside. Dance injuries happen usually due to the muscles not being warm before using them. It happens more easily than you might think!
Ideas for stretching and warming up include: slowly rolling your head around to loosen up neck joints, rolling shoulders in a backward and forward rotation as well as pushing them down and back for a feeling of proper dance posture, moving arms up above your head and behind you, circling ankles in and outwards so you don't twist them, moving legs from the hip joint forward and back to loosen those joints up as well.
In cool weather wear a sweater or light jacket to start the class off and take it off after you have warmed up.
If you are thinking about buying dance shoes, there are a couple of things you might want to consider first. Are you sure you are going to be taking lessons on a regular basis? If you are just starting lessons you might want to wait and make sure you like dancing first and then go out and buy a pair.
If you are already dancing regularly at lessons and socials, you may want to purchase some. Depending on what dances you are taking, will determine what type of shoes you should buy. If you want dance shoes that are good for any kind of line nuline or couples dancing, you may want to consider "ballroom practice shoes". Be careful though, there is a good $20 dollar price difference between shops for the same shoes. You can't return or exchange any shoes after you have worn them. Some shops have no returns at all!
Practice makes perfect
Well, I don't know about perfect but it sure helps the memory out. When you get home it makes a big difference if you just try to practice some of the steps or even the dance that you just learned in class. You may not get it all but you will find that it will have helped you immensely when you attend the next class. And don't worry if you mess up, that's why everyone else is at the class as well, for the practice!
Don't be afraid to ask for help
If you don't get a step, feel free to ask right away. Often the instructor will ask, "Do It Again" or "Move On" or "Play The Music". Now is your chance to speak up. "Do It Again" always supercedes Move On or Play The Music!
Dance Floor Etiquette
Dancing involves lots of people. Dancers, from the ripest beginners to the seasoned advanced, stand in lines together, performing steps at the same time. To avoid possible mishaps that often occur when large groups of people squeeze together and move their bodies, a few rules must be followed by all. The following etiquette tips should keep the dance floor running smoothly.
Never carry anything onto the dance floor. Drinks, food, chewing gum and cigarettes should never enter the lines. Not only is it unpleasant, it is also quite dangerous. If a drink or food is spilled in the middle of a dance, someone is bound to slip and fall down. Furthermore, hardwood dance floors should always be treated with care to avoid warping or staining. Leave your snacks on the table.
Always be polite to other dancers on the floor. If the dance floor is crowded, take smaller steps to avoid colliding with other dancers. If a collision should occur, be courteous and apologize, no matter who was at fault. Also, keep conversations to a minimum. Other dancers are trying to concentrate and listen to the music.
Relax and enjoy yourself:
Dancing is meant to be fun...don't be intimidated if you are a beginner. Remember that everyone started at the beginning. Practice is key. Look around the dance floor and you will probably see people stumbling, tripping and stepping on toes...but they're probably laughing about it!
Dancers of all levels should remember that although there is typically a common way to perform each dance, there is always room for interpretation and local flair. Don't be surprised if you enter a new dance venue and find everyone inserting an extra hand clap or making quarter turns instead of half turns. Just go with the flow and enjoy.