I found this list in the 1947 revised edition of Arthur Murray’s book How to Become a Better Dancer. I think these 6 tips will truly help you become a better dancer, just as Arthur Murray promises. It is so amazing how his concepts still stand the test of time almost 70 years later! Read on; I’m sure you will agree.
- 1. Keep a positive attitude – how upbeat you keep your attitude will be in direct proportion to your level of success. Easier said than done, right? When things are going well and learning is on an upswing it’s easy, but what about when you’re at a plateau or saturation point? If you understand the curve of learning, this is where your learning process is the most challenged. If we become frustrated and negative about our learning at this point, we will block ourselves from absorbing the new information, as well as being no fun to be around.
- 2. Try new things that will challenge you – this is where it gets fun and a little scary. For most of you, just taking the step to come in and take lessons was scary and challenging enough, but now what? Now that you are comfortable with your environment, instructors, and dances chosen, where’s the challenge? Perhaps it might be learning from another instructor, working on a new dance, performing in front of people, or starting that new scholarship routine. Wherever you are, you are ready for that next challenge.
- 3. Take instruction from multiple instructors – I know, I just tiptoed into this one. Quite often this is hard initially. You’re comfortable with your teacher and (see #2) you don’t want to be uncomfortable. Dance instruction is very much an education. When you were in grade school and learning your basics, you had one teacher. As you progressed into high school and college, you had many instructors. Each teacher had a different style in instructing, and the combination of different teachers gave you a well-rounded education. Taking dance lessons from multiple instructors will help your skills to progress faster and easier.
- 4. Don’t compare yourself to others – everyone is here to learn to dance, but comparing ourselves to others is a no-win proposition. We all have different backgrounds, abilities, time commitments, etc. The wonderful thing about learning ballroom dancing at Arthur Murray is it’s individualized. Your dance program is tailored exactly to what you want. How many dances you want to learn, frequency of lessons, past experience, and life itself. You came in for yourself, so continue to make it all about you!
- 5. Attend studio group classes and parties – if you truly want to become a good dancer, this is a must! Your individual growth is so important you don’t want to spend all of your practice time only in personal lessons. You want to make sure your body is well practiced so you can absorb all of the fine points you get during those personal lessons. The group opportunities are a great time to learn from advanced students as well as contribute to the dance educations of those who are just starting out, while having an amazing time. We are the most fun people I know!
- 6. Be helpful and friendly to those around you – let’s face it; learning to dance is a community affair. This one of the main reasons most of us started dancing in the first place. We wanted to meet people, make new friends, and have fun. I’ve personally seen terrific friendships formed, and even some marriages too. Don’t get so wrapped up in your own learning that you forget to be friendly and helpful to your classmates, as you would have them be to you.
Live, love, dance, and Enjoy!
This is Part Nine in a series. Be sure to check out Part Eight, especially if you are or dance with a “Tall Girl”.
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