Be a Better Dance Partner in 10 easy steps
Just before I was scheduled to write my next blog post, I got this email from my student Lynn. Lynn and have danced together as student/teacher for a long time (over 10 years) but she recently started practicing with an amateur partner. She jotted down these tips that she has learned through her recent practices. I added a little to what she wrote and what resulted is a pretty great list titled “How to be a better dance partner in 10 easy steps!”
“I have been dancing pro-am for ten years, but have only recently started practicing with other amateur dancers (outside of social dancing.) While I am far from the perfect dance partner, I have noticed some things that make practicing a lot easier for both dancers.”
1. Prepare before your practice.
Don’t walk into practice without a plan! Have a plan on what you want to achieve in your practice. Watch your videos ahead of time and make sure you have done your drills and any other things on your own so yo can maximize the practice time together!
2. Show up on time
Simply showing at your schedule practice time shows your partner that you respect them and their time. It also shows that you are taking your commitment to practice seriously.
If you can, showing up early! This helps lead your partnership by example. Show up a bit early so you can change your shoes, warm up and begin practicing some of your solo practice. You’re saying to your partner “hey I want to be the best for you that I can!”
3. Have everything you need when you arrive: dance shoes, music, practice clothes, water, snacks.
Dance shoes are an obvious one, but make sure you bring any music or changes of clothes you need too. Also planning on having water and snacks on hand will help keep your energy up during practice. Keeping these things in a dance practice bag might help you remember everything!
4. Be flexible
Sometimes when we are really excited we get tunnel vision and want to blast through our practices to achieve our goals. Remember that you and your partner are real people with real lives outside of dancing. Sometimes moods will be less than perfect, or one of you may have to cancel practices to take care of some ‘real life’ stuff. Remembering to be flexible and roll with these things will help you maintain a long term partnership.
5. Check your ego at the door.
Lets face it, a lot of the problems that arise in practice come from our own egos. No matter if you are more or less experienced than your partner, check your ego at the door and prepare to be able to give and accept helpful correction.
6. Minor mistakes can be fixed after the song is over.
Don’t stop an entire routine due to a small mistake that can be compensated for and dealt with later. If you are at a point where you are dancing to the music, prepare to work through an small mistake that you can. There will be plenty of time later to go back and correct the little errors when the music is off.
7. Video is your friend.
Recording your practices so you can watch them together and see areas for improvement can be invaluable. You don’t need a coach to see obvious flaws and things in your dancing that bug you. Use your own video as the first level of feedback.
8. Know when it’s time to stop.
If one of you is too tired or too frustrated to continue, take a break. You don’t have to make everything perfect in one practice session. If you can’t work through your problems during one particular practice, don’t sweat it. It might be time to apologize for the bad day and make plans to practice another time. You will be MUCH more productive calling it a day early from time to time rather than getting overly frustrated and leaving in a bad mood.
9. Ok, so this one may seem obvious or weird, but try to smell good.
Consider it a public service to anyone who has to get that close to you. Wear deodorant and brush your teeth and watch out for those onions or garlic that you had for lunch!
10. Smile, this is your hobby!
You dance because you love it and you’re healthy enough to do it! Make sure you act like it. You should be in a great mood because you get to dance today. Don’t take your health and talents for granted!
BONUS: Begin and end your practice with a positive note.
Sometimes we walk into the studio with some ‘negative stuff’ from real life. Leave it at the door and begin your practice on the positive side. Then, no matter how practice goes, end on a cheerful note. Even on the worst of days you have accomplished something. Be thankful and thank your partner for their time and efforts!
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