If you are a social dancer I believe you are very smart! It's one of the best decisions you could make. Social dancing has so many benefits, but besides being an exciting and rewarding experience, it can also be very challenging or even frustrating. For follows, and maybe even more so for leads.
As a new dance lead, you may face a number of challenges that can make it difficult to progress and enjoy the experience. Here are five common challenges that a new lead may face when starting to dance, and also how to make it all easier.
Learning the Basic Steps: One of the biggest challenges for a dance lead is learning the basic steps of the dance. All dances have a specific set of basic steps that are used to build more complex patterns and moves. Learning the basic steps of a dance can be challenging, but with time and practice, you'll be able to master them. However, the actual steps are not the biggest challenge.
Leading Your Partner: As the dance leader, you're not just responsible for your own steps. You also have to lead your partner through the dance. This can just as challenging, or even more so. Leading your partner requires clear communication and confidence, and there is always room for improvement.
Timing and Coordination: Timing and coordination are critical for a successful dance. You need to be able to keep time with the music, coordinate your movements with your partner, and execute the dance steps with precision. Timing and coordination are truly critical for a successful dance, but the challenges don't even end there.
- Adaptation: When we lead our partner, we don't just send a signal. We also have to listen to the response. We are constantly communicating - both "talking" and "listening". And the listening gives us the feedback we need to be able to adapt to our partner and become better with the timing. Should we take smaller steps? Should we lead with a bit more clarity or presence in the frame? Should we send the "signal" a bit earlier for the follow to be able to react in time? We have to pay attention constantly, to make sure everything works. And if it doesn't, we have to fix it. Adapt our timing and coordination to make it better.
Understanding the Music: Another challenge for new leads is understanding the music. Different dances have their own rhythms and tempos, and it's important to be able to recognize and respond to these musical cues. This requires active listening and a keen sense of rhythm, which can take time to develop. Just as important can it be to feel the emotional quality of the music and convey that through your dance.
Overcoming Nervousness: Finally, many new couple dance leaders may struggle with nervousness or anxiety when they first start dancing. Dancing can be a scary experience in a way, and it can be intimidating to put yourself out there and try something new. It's important to remember that everyone starts somewhere and that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. Nervousness and anxiety can be obstacles to enjoying dance. But there is hope, and sometimes this energy can be used to your advantage.
For leads, practice is key. Without practice we will never get the moves into muscle memory. And we need to get both basic steps and our leading into muscle memory. Otherwise we can never properly lead our partner. We will always be 100 % focused on what to do, and can never focus on how to do it, or why we do it.
Once we have our steps and our leading in muscle memory we can start adapting to our partner. First of all we can adapt our size of steps to better fit our partner. We can work on timing and coordination to make leading more accurate with the partner we are dancing with now. We can adapt what types of moves we do and how we do them.
Once we have it in muscle memory we can also start paying more attention to the music and how to interpret it. For musicality we need both perception and expression. We need to really listen to the music and interpret it, and we need an idea how to express it in our dance, and finally we need the skills to make this idea a reality.
Once we get this far, our confidence can grow and hopefully we become less nervous, which makes it easier to step onto the dance floor. We dare to invite more, we will get more dances, and that gives us even more practice. We can enter this positive upwards spiral, and once we do, there is no stopping us! With practice, patience, and a willingness to learn, we can overcome these challenges and enjoy the many benefits that dancing has to offer.
We just need to get over that initial nervousness. And the best advice I can give about that is to start social dancing as soon as possible. Practice as much as you can, right from the start!
Don't be afraid to take risks, make mistakes (because we all do), and have fun on the dance floor!
Get out there, and remember - consistency is key!
Suggestion - Check the kizomba, fusion, musicality and follow technique courses here.