But practice is boring...
It's common to admire Ballroom and Latin American champions as they dance and pass off their extraordinary dancing as 'talent'. But you couldn't be more wrong.
Underestimating the amount of time and effort, of personal and family events missed, of the hours and hours spent at the studio sculpting each body action, slowly and deliberately culturing each figure so that it goes exactly as they want it too - over and over - week after week, year after year, is common. The dancers you admire the most have - without a doubt - dedicated YEARS or practice to perform what you see.
So how much should you practice?
At a minimum aim to practice at least 2 hours for every one hour class or lesson you have, more if you can. And that's not rehearsal, that's the repetitive action of breaking down movements to their skeleton so you can improve the base action, then layering the subtle artistic flair on top. Over and over and over. Here's a quick practice plan for a novice 'practicer'!
- Choose which dance you are going to practice and dedicate 30 minutes to 1 hour to the dance.
- Dance you entire routine - with or without music.
- Choose one or two figures - or a small group - that were worked on in your recent lesson.
- Break down these figures and deliberately attempt to achieve what your teacher asked you to do. Choose one aspect of the figures to work on at a time e.g. did your teacher ask for a change in foot position, or posture, or head movement, or hip action. Then practice but going over and over that figure focussing on ONE of these for 10 - 20 minutes. Repeat and repeat the figure again and again until you feel you are on your way to mastering the action. Do this WITHOUT MUSIC.
- If necessary, choose another aspect of the technique and repeat the above.
- Add the styling slowly back to the figure.
- Dance the entire routine - preferably to music this time - with the new and improved technique in the figure you've just practiced.
- Move on to another dance, or choose another figure.
Monica Fincham is a ballroom champion and the owner of Dancesport Kingdom in Lilydale, Melbourne, Australia.
"I believe that many couples feel that talent is all it takes to become a great dancer - when in fact they couldn't be more wrong. Time and time again I've seen the talented do little with their dancing - and those who religiously practice become the most admired. These are ones the novice spectator assumes are 'talented'.