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Archive

This can be an awkward area of discussion, literally. How often have you been in a dance class, or on the dance floor, and your partner's dance frame is all but motivating?

Ladies, here are common woes of being the victim of an uncomfortable dance hold:

1. The gentleman's arm jerks your arm around as you are dancing.

2. The gentleman entangles his fingers in yours as he turns you and almost cracks your knuckles.

3. The gentleman shoves you around and under his arm as he turns you.

4. The gentleman's hand continues to creep lower and lower on your back/waistline or around your ribs.

Gentlemen, you have your own woes. Here are some common complaints:

1. The lady puts all of her weight on your arms so that, regardless of her frame or weight, she is putting fifty pounds of weight onto your shoulders so you are carrying her around.

2. The lady dances extremely far away from you so that it is difficult to navigate her around the floor.

3. The lady does not give you connection so that when you try to lead her, she does not follow the steps.

4. The lady has learned her part independently of you and chooses not to follow you – rather, she performs the stops as if she were dancing independently of you.

There are more potential complaints, but the first thing to recognize in many of these situations, is that some dancers are new to dancing with a partner. It is important to have dance etiquette and not insult your partner - so how can you work with some of these uncomfortable situations? You do have the right to request a person not put their hands on you in a way that makes you uncomfortable. But, if the issue is more related to inexperience on the part of your partner, first take a breath. Realize you were once a newbie too. It’s typically not the best idea to correct your dance partner on the floor and to leave that to the domain of the instructors. That said, here are tips on how to keep your own frame to help you (and your partner) have a better dancing experience.

Gentlemen:

You provide a strong frame that allows you to help lead the lady (no spaghetti arms!). Keep in mind this doesn’t mean you have to be excessively hard or stiff in your arms (you don’t want to dig nails into the lady’s back. You just want tone. Your left hand will be holding the lady’s right hand – point your fingers to the left. The lady will put her fingers over the area between your thumb and index finger. Then you lightly wrap your fingers around the top of her hand. When you turn her, there is a release of the fingers so as not to crack the lady’s knuckles. Your right hand provides the other half of the frame and is in contact with the lady’s shoulder blade. The right elbow is slightly lifted.

Ladies:

Maintain your own posture and weight – while you do rest your left arm on the gentleman’s right arm, you are still essentially supporting the weight of your arm. Your right arm will be bent and your hand will go into the gentleman’s left hand. Place your fingers over the area between the gentleman’s thumb and index finger and he will wrap his fingers over yours. Again, make sure you are holding your own weight with this arm, but also giving him some connection – keep some tone in your arms.

On improving the dance frame:

Private lessons are truly the way to go in terms of developing your dance frame and connection. While the technique of the dance hold can be explained in a group class, nothing compares to one-on-one instruction with a professional in this area. Most successful dancers and professionals were, at one time, molded individually by another professional and that is how connection is learned. It is best learned by being felt and practiced with an experienced teacher who can evaluate your connection. DanceSport professionals are uniquely qualified to provide this instruction, which can be instrumental in your social dance life. A good connection can help you to dance almost any step without actually “learning” it, by just having the ability to lead and follow. Call the front desk at 212-307-1111 to schedule a lesson for connection technique.
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"Treat others as you wish to be treated." We've heard the saying a million times since childhood, yet sometimes we forget that when we're on the dance floor.

A simple phrase to remember: you give your partner respect, and you will get respect in return.

Often in a social dance setting, there is a mingling of dancers of all levels, from basic beginners to professionals. Imagine the scenario: a gentleman has mustered all of his courage to come to his first social dance class, and loves it so much that he sticks around for the practice party, despite having no inkling of what may be to come. He takes a risk and asks a lady to the dance floor. Once on the floor, the lady, who has been dancing for three years, continues to correct him, "This isn't how you turn me! No, that step goes like this." The gentleman's nerves are so heightened that after the dance, he leaves the floor, feels like a failure, and doesn't come back to dance for a year.

This may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it can and often does happen. Often dancers feel a duty to correct others on the floor. While this may stem from the best intentions, the safest and most polite way to deal with a scenario like this is to refrain from correcting the other person, unless they specifically ask you for feedback. Ideally, we should leave the teaching for the domain of the instructors.

While there are exceptions to this rule, especially if a dance partner is acting inappropriate or making you uncomfortable, in general the dance floor is for just that: Dancing! Let's leave the corrections for the classroom.
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Dance attracts people from all different backgrounds and industries. Interacting with your fellow students of dance cannot only increase your social network, but it can open up career and job opportunities as well.

Aside from externally expanding yourself, interacting in the dance world can help your internal self to blossom. No matter how shy you might be in real life, you can be free and open in the dance world. Many people transform when they walk onto the dance floor; it's a safe place to explore being a more outgoing and confident person.

People often feel they have permission to be more outgoing and expressive in the dance setting. I mean, let's face it, we do steps with funny names like "boto fogo," "tipple chasse," twinkles," "wings," "the chase," and we all love it because it's fun! As adults, it can often be difficult to let loose during the work day. We have, in many respects, lost the element of "play," but dancing can often reintroduce that aspect into our lives.

So why not put yourself out there? Introduce yourself to someone that you haven't seen or met before. Maybe you'll meet your new life-partner or best friend? Or your new boss? Or a new employee? Or a great new business partner? These things and more have all happened as results of introductions on the dance floor.

So what are you waiting for? Say hi to someone new at the next Practice Party. You never know what amazing opportunities may arise from that simple hello.
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Have you hit a plateau in your dancing? Do you feel like you take a class and then have difficulty remembering the steps you've learned? What is the key to retaining the information and applying it when you need it?

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!!!

Practice is an essential part of the learning process.

Muscle memory can only happen when you've done a movement often enough that your brain no longer needs to be fully engaged in the process. Your body just seems to do it without thinking about it! This can only occur if you've done the movement enough times that your body is able to internalize it.

We all want to get on the floor and get lost in the music, and our partner. If we are constantly having to think about what we are doing when we dance, we miss out on conversation and enjoyment of the music. Practice allows our minds and bodies to "absorb" the movements, so that we can do them without consciously going through the motions. Once you've reached this point, your dancing can really get to the next level.

DanceSport provides practice opportunities throughout the week and most private and group class programs include the practice parties (a $140 value). The best time to practice is right after you've learned something, and then a few days after as well. So, if you are learning Salsa, for example, attending the evening practice session on Tuesday (after your classes) and then attending the Thursday or Saturday Session will increase your retention of the patterns and fast track your learning experience.

That's not to say that additional practice isn't helpful. In fact, just a few minutes of daily practice done at home can be instrumental in getting you from the cognitive level of learning, to realizing that the steps are really in you. Listening to music that you dance to is another way to train your ear for dance, which can help your mind and body pick up the steps and the rhythm.

Practice Parties are also a great way to interact with your fellow students. Learn more about the dance community and become a part of it while putting your new knowledge into practice!
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When you dance at DanceSport, you share the floor with the stars. ABC's Dancing With the Stars couple Kate Gosselin and Tony Dovolani have been utilizing one of DanceSport's studios for their practice time when they are in New York. Due to her busy schedule, Kate can be found practicing with Tony here at DanceSport in the early mornings. Once the show airs after March 22nd, you might be surprised to see you recognize which studio they are in when they show clips of their practices! Feel pride in knowing that when you come to DanceSport you are dancing on the same floor that the industry considers a high quality dance location. For more information on Dancing With the Stars and to follow Kate and Tony, see the show's website at: http://abc.go.com/shows/dancing-with-the-stars/index

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