“Why Should I Learn that Ballroom Dance?”
It’s a question all teachers have heard, and you’ve probably asked it yourself-What dances do we need to learn to be a good dancer, and how do they benefit us? In this week’s blog, I want to outline some of the dances that I feel are essential to our learning in becoming a good dancer, and the benefits tied to each one.
First let’s start with the ballroom dances. Those are the ones that travel around the dance floor and are generally what people imagine when they hear someone say, “ballroom dancing.”
Waltz is the grandfather of partner dances as we know them today, but how can it help us as a dancer? Waltz helps you learn how to control your body and your momentum in dancing. It develops your balance, along with your leg and ankle strength as you learn to rise up on your toes and lower into the knees as you travel and change direction. If you thought this was going to be your relaxing dance, think again! As you dance, your thighs will start to burn and you’ll realize this slow dance is actual exercise! You will also learn to maintain your posture and poise as you take larger than life steps around the ballroom. Waltz is like ballet: just like a ballerina engages their whole body in order to look light and graceful, you must be fully engaged in order to make Waltz look light and graceful. A true Waltz master will look like they are floating on a cloud as they fly across the dance floor.
Foxtrot will make you feel as smooth as butter on the dance floor. You will learn to glide across the floor as if you were figure skating in the Sochi Winter Olympics. The smoothness comes from the precise footwork and elongated steps found in Foxtrot, as well as the smooth jazz rhythms you will hear in the music. Foxtrot also teaches you how to navigate a crowded dance floor. (And let’s be honest, some dance floors can feel like the 405 Freeway at rush hour!) There are many Foxtrot patterns that bob and weave around the floor which help you learn to avoid crashing into other dancers on the floor by changing direction at a moment’s notice.
Tango is the dancer’s dance. If you can learn to lead or follow Tango, then you can learn to lead or follow anything. In order to match the strong, decisive beat in the music, a man must learn to think ahead and be decisive with his lead. Women have to learn to completely trust their partner and be in tune with him. (I know it’s tough ladies, but we really need to give up the control on this one!) Ladies need to develop a sensitivity to the lead, be aware of what their partner is doing, and respond quickly. And let’s not forget that sharp, dramatic tango style! If you want to feel strong and powerful, then Tango is the dance for you.
I have a confession to make: I lied! The real grandfather of partner dances as we know them today is the Viennese Waltz. Surprisingly, it’s also still a pretty common rhythm to hear. It’s actually more common than the slow Waltz. Plus, there’s nothing in the world quite like the sensation you get when dancing it. Once you’ve learned Viennese Waltz, you will be able to really move on the dance floor! You will travel, rotate, and have such fast footwork that you’ll need a fire extinguisher close by because you’ll really be burning up the dance floor! You just feel like you’re flying and everything starts to melt away until there’s only you, your partner, and the music. It is absolutely beautiful.
Although I stated some of the essential dances to learn in order to become a good dancer and the benefits tied with them, there are so many more that I cannot simply discuss in just one blog. I hope this helped clarify which dances you should be learning (or justified for those who have already started!) Stay tuned because I’ll be coming out with another blog on reasons we should learn the Latin dances soon!
For next time – here is a preview of why the Latin dances are important in becoming a better dancer..
Rumba is what started the Rhythm and Latin dance crazes. It’s sexy! It’s romantic! It makes a woman feel extremely beautiful and more desirable, and a man feel like a Casanova on the dance floor! The rhythm in Rumba is in most of the songs you dance to, so when you find yourself at a wedding, on a cruise, or even listening to romantic music in your living room, most often it will be Rumba.
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