Thursday, March 21, 2013

Choosing a dance studio or instructor

Choosing a quality Dance Studio or instructor takes some research and common sense. If you are shopping around and are looking for the cheapest thing you can find, keep in mind that you generally do get what you pay for - you may learn a few steps, but you might not be learning how to dance.

Some of the factors you might consider include professional certification. Some studios employ teachers who are not certified. Certification is simply a professional affirmation of a skill level, and is always nice, but perhaps you are not looking for an instructor that will drive you to winning competions in a few months.

One of the things I have noted in the past is that students work best when they are comfortable and relaxed, so be sure that you actually like your instructor! That should be the first thing you decide when you start your lessons. Take advantage of a Trial lesson, which is either low cost or free. (But be prepared for the interview afterward, when the instructor or studio presents their comments and recommendations, and of course the Pitch. After all, the Studio does want to sell you lessons - it has to, to stay in business. But do not let a hard sell trap you - if the studio has to resort to being a used car salesman, it may not have a lot of confidence in its instructors.)

Know what you want, going in. Do you want the personal attention you get in a private lesson? Do you want a slower paced Group lesson? You will learn faster in a private lesson, but group lessons are much less expensive, and can be a lot of fun. Would you prefer to have a small group of your friends come in together and make a private Group lesson? There are always lots of options.

Look for atmosphere. Are people friendly? Is the Studio clean?

And always have fun.

Peter Jones
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The real partner dancing pointer!

The most important thing is to remember to have fun when you're dancing. Specific step patterns and rhythms are just tools you use to make the dancing (communication between two bodies) easier.

Peter Jones
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Ballroom dancing points and positions

Just some general notes

Some basic ballroom dancing points and positions
In traditional ballroom dancing, the male dancer is the lead and the female dancer follows. In all these dance positions, the lead directs the follow with body language and initiates the motion. The follow should never try to lead, nor anticipate the lead's next move.
These moves are all written in terms of the actions the lead initiates.

Dancing in a Closed Dance Position
The lead's left hand should have straight fingers pointing to the left with thumb up. The right hand rests on the follow's shoulder blade.
The follow's right hand should hook onto the lead's left hand. The left hand rests on the lead's shoulder.
The lead's right arm and the follow's left arm should touch at the elbows. There should be a small amount of pressure between the couple's arms so the lead can signal to the follow.

The Promenade Position
The leader should link the left thumb around the follow's right hand. Both dancers’ palms should face out.
The lead's right hand should rest on the follow's shoulder blade, exerting direction/ pressure with the heel of the palm . The follow's left hand rests on the follow's shoulder.
Both partner's hips should face out.

The Open Dance Position
This is a more relaxed position where the lead's hands are at waist height. The thumbs should be up and the fingers should face inwards. Take care not to wrap the thumbs around the follow's hands. The follow should hook both hands over the lead's hands.

The Apart Position
Dancers are not touching each other with their hands, and there is no point of contact between their bodies

Peter Jones
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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

We're married! Thanks for ALL of the dancing help (and pre-marital counseling) at times ;-) As the dip attests (How about those arm stylings!) the first dance went GREAT, thanks to you! All of our family and friends were duly impressed! Thanks for everything!

-Maureen and Tom

Peter Jones
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How do you do the Waltz?

                      Waltz is a dance in 3/4 time. 

If that doesn't mean anything to you, it doesn't matter, because anyone can do a Box Step! 

Step Timing
The leader steps Forward on left foot.
Follower steps Backwards on right foot.
The leader steps to the side with right foot.
Side with left foot.
Close the left foot to the right.
Close right foot to left.
The leader steps back on the  right foot.
Forward on left foot.
Side with right foot.
Side with left foot.
Then closes the right foot to left.
Close left foot to right.

Peter Jones
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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ballroom Dancing can kill you!!!.... NOT.

Ballroom Dancing has become huge in the US and the world in recent years. Tangos, waltzes, swing and foxtrots on (the still going strong) Dancing with the Stars, there was the amazing "So You Think You Can Dance,"and numerous others... In addition to being fun and social, Ballroom dancing also significantly improves both the mind and the body.

So, you wanna dance?

You're probably not going to train full time for months with a top professional dance partner, but you can still get a good workout. And keep in mind, anyone who can walk can dance.... so:
Is ballroom dancing exercise?

Of course it depends on the type of dancing and your skill level, but once you get your heart rate up, you're certainly going to get a great cardio workout, whatever you do. Dance builds bones, and is wonderful for your upper body and strength. If you have a health problem, be careful about throwing yourself into a really fast dance style, but even if you aren't in perfect shape, be willing to go for it! Just start slow and make sure you are comfortable.

Dance is a "moderate activity" say the USDA's physical activity guidelines. The g
uidelines say adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily so it doesn't take much, and it is always so much easier to stick to a weight loss or health program with fun activities. Take, for instance, maybe ballroom or Latin style dance.

You might feel muscles you don't know you have! Ballroom dancing works the backs of the thighs and buttock muscles differently than many other types of exercise.
How can ballroom dancing help the brain?

Increased blood flow to the brain results from any physical exercise and there's less stress, depression, and loneliness from dancing's social activity part. There are mental challenges (memorizing steps, working with your partner) making it a complex activity -- it's not just physical. 

So, how should I get started dancing?

* Look for a good teacher who emphasizes what you can do, is positive and works at your pace.
* Don't think you have to be perfect. Professionals aren't; why should you be?
* Dance is for everyone, so it doesn't matter if you sometimes worry about your size.
* Get into the music, as well as the movement.

Gaining any new skill brings confidence.
So have some fun, and get confident!

Peter Jones
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