Everyone makes mistakes, but they can turn into teachable moments when people acknowledge their mistakes and change their behavior. In dance, many errors and misconceptions are made, but with continuous training and learning, dancers become aware of certain slip-ups and learn how they can improve their skills.
Physical mistakes aren’t the only thing dancers have to worry about. They also may find themselves wound up in certain habits or mindsets that are not conducive to their growth as dancers. Below, we will go over some common mistakes that dancers make and some misconceptions they may also have. New students usually end up falling into a few of these habits, but dancers of all levels have surely found themselves relating to these situations at least once or twice.
Only Dancing One Style
Focusing on one style of dance is fine if you are learning for a specific event or if your goal is to learn one particular dance, but if you aim to be a well-rounded dancer, learning multiple styles will be a great help for your development. Good dancers know that it’s beneficial to study multiple styles because it gets them outside of their comfort zones. This also makes them better dance partners at social events because they are able to dance with more people and participate in more dances. Learning a new style can also be a good source of motivation, and it could reignite a passion for dance if you feel like you have plateaued with one style. All in all, studying new things can just be a refreshing experience!
It is very important to practice your dance steps. This should go without saying, but many people still do not get enough practice in. Learning and rehearsing steps while you are in the studio is great, but in order to retain the information from your instructor, you must practice outside of the studio. Practicing at home will only help by allowing you to eventually get through your steps with ease. It also saves you time within a lesson because the instructor will spend less time reviewing and more time teaching new steps and techniques. You will get the most out of your lesson because you’ll have plenty of time for growth and development!
Learning from a Video
Videos can be useful references if you are trying to review steps from dances you are already comfortable with. However, if you are trying to learn a completely new dance step from a video, it could end up being more of a challenge than a helpful resource. There are details that dancers can’t get from a video that a physical dance lesson with a teacher can provide. In a lesson, instructors offer correction, real-time guidance, and feedback. They can also demonstrate moves from multiple angles so their students get a clear view of the steps. Trying to learn from a video can possibly add more confusion to your learning processes. Instead of wracking your brain while trying to figure out which foot goes where and constantly pausing and rewinding videos, rely on your dance instructor and we promise you’ll learn new steps in half the time.
Dancing as a lead can be quite difficult. They have to think of steps ahead of time and utilize proper technique while also being mindful of their partners. Common mistakes leads will make are initiating certain patterns improperly and using incorrect holds while spinning or guiding their partners. For example, leads should always refrain from aggressively pulling or pushing their partners into certain patterns. Strong leading is important, but if a dancer has to literally drag their partner across the floor, then too much force is being used for a follower who may not be at the same level as the lead. Many leads also fall into the bad habit of verbal leading. Leaders should be able to gently, clearly, and non-verbally direct their partners. If they just tell them what moves to do, it sort of contradicts the follower’s purpose reacting to the leads movements. If you are just starting out, you may not even notice that you are verbally cueing your partner (especially if you dance with them frequently), but this is a good habit to break as early as you can.
Following without Footwork
A common misconception is that a follower’s role is easy. A follower’s job is react to their partner’s leading, but many make the mistake of not learning or paying attention to their own footwork. Some believe that as long as their partner leads them efficiently, they will be able to get through a dance. In some ways, a follower can probably skim through a dance without actually knowing specific steps, but this mindset unfairly lays all of the responsibility on the leads. Ballroom dancing requires partnership and part of what makes it special is the fact that two people work together to create a dance. If the lead does all the work, they might as well dance alone. If the lead does end up stumbling or leads ambiguously, the follow would likely be able to continue the movement if they know their part. It’s also important for followers to learn their proper footwork when it comes to things like spins and turns. The average spectator tends place more attention on followers (hence the flashy dresses), so to make sure they look their best, it’s important for them to be comfortable with their steps.
Happy Dancing! ^_^