Although it can often appear otherwise, great Ballroom and Latin American dancers don't just happen, and it's not all talent we're born with. It takes years of dedication to hone our bodies to develop muscles and movements that then appear to look effortless and graceful to spectators. A key part of a dancers' week is their dance lessons, and preparation for these is essential to set up the dancer for success.
Here are six things great dancers do before their dance lessons
- Arrive early. Great dancers know that in order to achieve the most from each lesson they need to get into the right headspace. That means arriving at least 15 minutes early to each lesson - so that they have time to change, relax and prepare for the lesson.
- Leave the outside world at the door. Life can be hectic, but bringing what's happened during the day into the dance studio, and into a lesson, does not make a successful dancer. Great Ballroom and Latin American dancers often spend a minute or two in their car before coming in to set their mind, or have an imaginary 'bin' at the door in which they dump their day, knowing they can address any issues of the day once they leave. One of the wonderful aspects of dance is the mindfulness it facilitates, and great dancers make sure they stay focussed.
- Warm up. If they do not warm up, great dancers know that the first few minutes of the lesson will be spent on warring up their body, therefore wasting valuable time, and possibly presenting a less than optimal version of their dancing to their teacher. Spend at least a few minutes, I recommend 30, before each dance lesson warming up with dedicated drills and stretches.
- Minimise chit chat. Sure, Ballroom and Latin American dancing are super social activities, and you need to say hello to all your dancing friends. But great dancers know that wasting all their warm up time by talking does not prepare them for the lesson. Save the chat for after your dance session, just before you go home.
- Bring questions. Great dancers prepare questions and concerns to their lessons based on practice during the week. This way they iron out problems that have occurred during practice, propelling them to becoming great dancers.
- Nurture their dance partner. Finally, if you are coming to dance lessons with a partner, then enquiring to their day, asking about how they are feeling, discussing a mutual plan for the lesson are all essential for great dancers. No matter how you are feeling, it's essential to acknowledge and look after your partner's feelings to get the most fro your lesson, and your dancing. Occasionally, bring them a warm drink or a small gift, to show them you care and have been thinking about them.
Monica Fincham is the Owner and Founder of Dance Kingdom in Lilydale, Victoria, Australia and a professional Ballroom dancer and competitor for 17 years. https://dancesportkingdom.com.au/