How to Achieve a Balanced Dance Diet

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Whether you are thinking about taking dance lessons, have just started, or have been dancing for years, it is important to have a good variety of dances in your program. Many times students come in with a specific dance in mind, and they only want to work on that ONE dance. Although there is nothing wrong with that, having a “healthy” and balanced dance diet is going to not only make you a better all-around dancer, but each dance has distinct benefits that will help you with your other dances as well. Just like you wouldn’t go to the gym and only work your arms, or you wouldn’t be eating healthy if you’re only eating broccoli.

I want to discuss some of the more popular social dances, and the different benefits you can gain from each (Now don’t send me hate mail if I didn’t include your favorite)! Take notes and see what’s missing from your dancing, then talk to your teacher about adding some new dances to your curriculum!

Swing – This is probably the most uniquely American dance of them all. It is fun, amazingly upbeat, and some might even say “contagious”! Learning the Swing, and especially focusing on variety with single, double, triple, Lindy Hop, etc., will give you the skills to dance to different timings, and allow you to adjust to different music tempos. You will learn how to move comfortably in all directions and work on quick motions in your footwork. This dance is a MUST LEARN if you ever want to find yourself on the dance floor.

Rumba –The Rumba should be a part of everyone’s dance repertoire. This is a great social and conversation dance that will help you develop momentum control and keeping weight off your heels. The Rumba is a Latin dance, which can be done to Latin & American music, oldies, and a lot of contemporary songs, too. If you’re not working on Rumba, you are missing out because it is THE slow dance!

Cha Cha – The Cha Cha has similarities to other Latin dances like Rumba, Mambo, Salsa, and even the Swing. Cha Cha is going to help you with self-expression, and arm and hand styling. You can add a lot of variety by adapting patterns from related dances, and using a combination or variation of patterns. Like the Rumba, you can dance the Cha Cha to a variety of music, new and old. When I go out dancing, I can Cha Cha to any song with a funky beat. Learning to dance without it, is kind of like ordering a BLT without the ‘B’.

FoxTrot – If you’re ever in a place with big band music, you will be dancing the FoxTrot all night long! When I think of the FoxTrot, the first thoughts that come to mind are cool and jazzy. This “smooth” dance will help you work on ankle flexibility, chasses and smooth walks. You will develop timing and control, and have the ability to combine steps easily and smoothly to all tempos. Learn the FoxTrot and see how easy you can transition from Swing, to FoxTrot, and back.

Salsa –The Salsa is an upbeat and hot social dance, and probably the most requested dance since the turn of the Century! Learning this dance will help you move your hips, and work on your sex appeal. You will become more rhythmical and see improvement in your footwork. Don’t think you need to be Latin to know this one, because students of all ages and ethnicities are learning this style of dance today.

Tango – The Tango is a very dramatic and passionate dance, with strong and powerful movements. The sharp movements and quick changes of direction are especially crucial to helping fine tune your lead and follow skills. If you want to work on your lead and follow, this is the dance!

Waltz – The Waltz, only the most recognizable dance in the world, will teach you grace and poise better than any other dance. Due to its slow tempo, long steps and rise and fall, you will gain strength in your ankles, and develop flow and movement on the floor. We all know that the Waltz is very specific to Waltz music (played in 3/4 time) and may not be danced as often at social events. However, when the moment arises, imagine how amazing it will be to take a lady in your arms and whisk her off her feet. This elegance will be carried with you to all your other dances, and everyday life, too.


Thank you,

Christy Melgoza

Arthur Murray Dance Studio Owner,

Certified Adjudicator, and Mother of Two


Share this Post