Social partner dance is all about true lead and follow. This means that the man and woman have to communicate with one another without using their words. It's a lot harder than it sounds!! Leading and following uses an entirely physical language consisting of pressure and elastic tension. This allows the man to completely guide and shape the woman's movements as long as he is communicating efficiently and she is "listening." This is a crucial part of dance that has to be built early so that the more advanced moves can go smoothly. If you're still struggling to walk in a straight line together, with the man leading each step, the tricky moves will be that much trickier.
Pro tip: Always go back to connection and communication exercises, even after you've been dancing for a while. Sometimes we can get used to our partners and build bad habits of assuming and second guessing instead of listening
Consider the foundations like the alphabet of our dance language. These steps can seem basic - well, maybe not when you're first learning them - but they are the foundation of everything to come after. The basics give you your general rhythm and the shape of your dance. Even if you're dying to spin a girl 12 times, you have to learn how to properly spin her once first! By drilling in the basics, you can get comfortable enough in the dance to play with it and learn new moves much quicker.
Pro tip: Learning to Salsa dance? The crossbody lead is your new best friend. Seriously. You hate it now, but it's your best friend.
FRAME FRAME FRAME!!! I can not state enough how important frame is to successful partner dancing. The frame is literally your only source of communication between one another, so instructors (at least at Dance FX Studios) tend to really harp on it. When it is first learned, frame tends to be a little stiff. It is allowed to soften over time, but only if you maintain the structure and stability that frame is supposed to provide. Don't be surprised if you get frame adjustments even after years of dancing. Even the best dancers can get lazy sometimes, so we have to keep an eye on it.
Pro tip: Posture makes a big difference in a proper frame. You may think you're standing up perfectly, but pay attention if your instructor tells you otherwise.
There are plenty more to work on when learning to dance, but these are the biggest things you'll work on when you first start out. In all likelihood, you'll be working on all of these skills for longer than you think. Don't worry, it doesn't mean you won't learn other stuff, too! There's just always room for improvement. If you're looking to grow in dance and live near Mesa, Arizona, join us at Dance FX Studios. After 13 years serving the Valley, we still have incredible instructors offering private dance lessons to bring you from basic to incredible! Our goal is to get you comfortable and smooth on the dance floor, in whatever style of dance you like. Want to get started, but want to get your feet wet first? Our September group classes are starting next week, so you can get a feel for the studio with other dancers of all levels!