If you are just starting out in your pursuit of learning to dance, whether it is for social, exhibition or competition dancing, establish a specific, short-term goal for yourself or you and your partner whichever the case. I know it is tempting to just jump in and begin taking group classes, preferably free group classes. That is something you should do only to determine if dance is your “thing”- that “thing” you’re looking to do to take on a new challenge or to provide activity that will take your mind off of the stressful things in life. However, if you discover this is something you want to become proficient at you should seek comprehensive, programmed training.
Oh, I know, “programmed” and “comprehensive” sound like intimidating terms that don’t have that much to do with what dance should be- FUN! Well, these guidelines don’t necessarily take the fun out of learning to dance. By “programmed” I’m simply referring to the goal setting method of learning. Any learning activity that is of an ongoing nature requires goals so you will be able to judge for yourself where you started, where you are and how well you are doing. Establish a short-term goal either on your own or mutually through a discussion with a knowledgeable instructor. A goal can be as simple as, “I want to learn the foundation of Salsa or Swing dancing” or as ambitious as, “I want to learn the foundation of five or more ballroom dances”. So, what do I mean by “comprehensive” training? I’ve learned both through my personal training and by teaching that the best method of learning requires group as well as private lessons and the most important and often ignored component- PRACTICE! No, not just PRACTICE- PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!
As I mentioned before, be adventurous and take some group classes on your own. Once you have been exposed to trying some patterns and watching others, particularly experienced dancers, you are less likely to feel quite so awkward during your initial private lessons and more willing to fully participate in group lessons that are designed to compliment your private lessons. I think you will find that a deliberate and well planned approach to learning how to dance will not only save you money on training it will also contribute to more enjoyment and, yes- FUN!