Ever been dragged aggressively around the dance floor by your leader, or your follower keep missing your leading signals? Maybe you sense that your partner doesn’t seem to be enjoying your dancing, or perhaps you’ve even accidentally hurt yourself or your partner?
This might be because you are repeating movements that have not been refined or not wholly understood.
When playing a sport, tennis for example – there is a right way to hit the ball, rules that must be obeyed to play a good game and to win, there are important tips and technique to improve your playing experience and prevent injury, mostly importantly this does not only apply to “professional” players!
The same can be said for learning to dance – you want to FEEL and LOOK GOOD on the dance floor, most likely you want your dance partner to relax and enjoy the experience with you, this can be achieved with the use of technique. Mostly we are talking about Salsa and Bachata but this is also relevant for other types of social dance as well.
First - what is Technique?
Technique is defined as the way in which you carry out a task in a skilful and efficient way, in the arts that often means achieving a certain aesthetic as well.
In terms of dancing, this is translated into learning how to control the body to conserve energy, avoid injury, as well as when dancing in a partnership – understanding and guiding the balance and steps of your partner and giving or receiving clear and efficient signals to and from your partner to give the desired effect. All with the goal to achieve a natural and beautiful looking dance.
Through the use of technique we can achieve freedom of expression – freedom of expression means that dancers are able to stop worrying about staying in time, about what routine to do next or why their partner isn’t doing what they envision – instead, dancers who have mastered a certain level of technique are able to focus on how to interpret the music with their body (arms styling, body movements) and enjoy dancing to the maximum!!
And for some of you reading – that also means you will be able to do all the wonderful things you see in the videos you are constantly watching on instagram or youtube. Everything is possible with a strong foundation made up of the basics and high level of following/leading technique, coordination development and dance preparation.
To be more clear, this means that the dancers have not memorised a specific choreography that they have to remember depending on the song (there are so many songs it would be nearly impossible for the average person!), instead dancers are left to play with the music and that’s when the magic happens – you might have also heard it called “musicality”.
The good news is this is not measured on talent but actually on conscious practice and self-analysis. Ladies will be able to perform beautiful styling or advanced body movements that do not interfere with the lead, leaders will be able to style and move their partner in exactly the way they want, and both sides of the dance couple will be able to enjoy their connection that lasts as long as a song.
Tips for Experienced Dancers
As an experienced dancer it might actually be more easy to fall into bad habits, especially if you are not attending regular group lessons or private sessions.
Believe it or not, dancing with followers or leaders often who have none or bad technique can actually rub off onto you, disrupting your development or giving you bad habits. And remember bad habits are much harder to unlearn than doing it right the first time!
My biggest tips is to always remain humble with your level. Often I have seen higher level students attend Beginner level classes and continue to ignore tips that are relevant to them because they are not consciously listening, just going through the movements.
Always revisit your foundation steps and be conscious with your practice by not just by repeating the motions but by using mirrors and self-analysis to start to define your personal style and keep your technique in line.
Another great tip is learning to dance in freestyle (also known as shines), dancing solo allows your balance and coordination to develop and not to rely on a partner, it is the best place to develop your personal style and not to mention it improves your confidence, musicality, timing and more!
Tips for Beginners
As a beginner it is easy to get swept up in the excitement and thrills of the dancing world and “fancy” moves, sometimes we tend to get ahead of ourselves without developing strong foundations for how to step, how to lead or follow or even develop the proper coordination and posture for more advanced movements.
If you don’t feel confident with your dancing or your dance partners don’t look as though they are enjoying themselves, it’s possible you are jumping ahead to moves and routines you are not ready for or have not learnt properly, you might notice yourself losing timing, or dragging the lady around the dance floor or missing leads or even worse – causing an injury to yourself or your partner.
In this case, private lessons might be what you need to improve your basics, make sure you do your research as to find good teachers in your area or online. If you can’t afford private lessons, there are plenty of tutorials online that you can practice along with and pick up tips, use a mirror to check you are doing things correctly. The difference between you and an advanced dancer is how many times they practice their basics – Remember practice is the only way to improve!