Ballroom Dance Technique Tips
- Start in closed position. That means each partner's right foot is pointing
between the other partner's feet. Each partner is facing the other
partner's right shoulder. Do not turn your bodies to face each
other. Your bodies should be parallel to each other and slightly
offset to the left of center.
- Beginners and novices should NEVER watch their feet
(at dance speeds). Here's why.
- Light travels from your feet to your eyes at 300
million meters per
- Nerve impulses travel from your feet to your brain at a maximum speed
of 200 meters per second, but there are also lots of synapses along the way,
and nerve signals cross these by a chemical means which delays the
signal even more.
- The signals arrive in the processing part of the
brain at different times.
- Light wins every time - by a significant amount of time.
- For novices and beginners it is not possible for the brain to ignore
one of these signals.
- For any of the faster dances this time differences is a significant
portion of the beat time.
- The brain switches back and forth between the two
sources of input.
- Switching between sources changes the timing from being on the beat to
being between beats.
- The result of watching one's feet is the
dancing equivalent of stuttering!
- I find it fixedly amazing how quickly and easily beginning dancers
smooth right out and feel progress as soon as they stop watching their
- So, watch your partner, or watch somebody else's partner, but NEVER
watch your feet at dance speeds (unless you
are an expert).
- Learn "school figures" that are done on
walls and corners. Make your turns and figures that involve turns
conform to the school figures using 45, 90, 135, 180 degrees, etc.
Watch the walls so that after a 180 degree figure you are facing the
opposite wall. This will help you develop the control and precision
that will allow you to go exactly where you want to. Once you are on
the dance floor, you can relax these limits, but following the school
figures always looks better. If you can't do the school figures
"right", you won't be able to control your dancing very
- Teach on consistent compass headings.
Teachers should be aware of significant
gender differences between men and women. Women, in general, are better
at seeing relationships; they navigate using landmarks. Men navigate
in terms of directions. This means that, for most men, starting to
learn a new step is just like learning to go somewhere. Change the
direction or compass heading, and it become learning to go someplace else!
There are always exceptions, but, most of the time, changing compass
headings during the teaching of a step results in losing many leaders.
We get frustrated when a teacher fails to account for this basic gender
difference. Advanced teachers I have seen never make this common
mistake.. It is imperative that a good teacher take this into
consideration. Never change the directions used when teaching a new
step to men, until the step is thoroughly learned on one compass
heading. If a part of a new step ends up on a different compass
heading than the earlier part, ALWAYS start the next part on the same
heading that the last part ended. Do not rotate the compass heading
while teaching the step. For example, the cross-body lead in the
cha-cha begins on one direction and finishes facing the opposite
direction. If you are teaching a sequence that includes the cross-body
lead, and then adds a new step, the new step should start facing the
direction the cross-body lead ended on.
- Learn and follow ballroom dance floor etiquette.
- Some dance figure names
- Lead and Follow FAQ