Spacial Awareness in Ballroom dancing

Social Dancing

Spacial Awareness

This is an interesting topic as it affects all dancers differently. Spacial Awareness is knowing where your body is in space in relation to objects and other people. Good spacial awareness is an ability to understand and respond to changes in position from objects in the environment.
Do you find yourself unable to dance your routine from the opposite side of the room? I sure do. Often when learning choreography in dance, we use the objects in our environment as a tool to help us navigate the room. Facing the kitchen, backing the reception desk, end facing the exit sign, these are all visual aids we use when learning or teaching dance routines so we can get a sense of where we are in the room.
Static visual aids work great when you always start your routine from the kitchen corner, but what happens when you need to start from the DJ desk? If you have great spacial awareness, it wouldn’t matter if you were dancing on the moon! You would still be able to dance your routine with accuracy as you are not dependent on visual aids. For the rest of us, the routine often falls apart.
So how can we overcome limitations in spacial awareness? There are a few techniques we can use. One is to practice the routine from the other side of the room until you are just as proficient starting from there. Another is to mentally overlay the orientation of the room you are used to - visualising the kitchen, DJ desk and lounge in a layout you are comfortable with. This works great on unfamiliar dance floors and for comps. The more advanced version is to bring your focus inward, experiencing the feel of the dance rather than focusing on the environment.
If you struggle with spacial awareness, don’t panic! At the old DK studio, the floor ran wall to wall, so there was no stepping “up” onto the dance floor. Within the first few weeks of opening the new studio, all the dancers kept falling off the floor! It was just a matter of time and practice until we were all dancing confidently in our new environment.