The Guide started as a personal quest. Embassy Ball 2017 dealt a huge blow to my ego, and after I sulked for a bit, I was determined to take more control and ownership of my dancing so I wouldn’t have to face that disappointment again with the knowledge I could have done more to avoid it. I couldn’t afford more than the two lessons per week I already took. The only other area I could control was my solo practice, so that’s where I focused.
Amazingly, it only took a couple weeks for me and Teacher to notice improvements. It literally only took one to two hours, once a week, for me to go from knowing most of my choreography on my own to knowing every step without question. My frame improved, my core strengthened, and my styling became more confident. I also found my lessons were more productive because we didn’t have to spend time re-reviewing things. We could build on the last lesson or dive deeper.
Improving the quality of my solo practice also improved my connection with my own body. I was catching and correcting myself when something started to relax or drop before Teacher had a chance to say anything. All of these changes boosted my confidence in my dancing overall and even gave me the courage to learn a new style!
Just like the rest of my dance journey, I shared my experiences on this blog and on the Girl with the Tree Tattoo social media pages. On the back end, I had also been making plans for my next Dance Diaries book. I enjoyed putting together the first two short-reads and got great responses, so I figured I’d keep going with them. I actually had started working on an outline for Book 3.
But this solo practice thing demanded more attention. After hearing from a lot of other dancers who also struggled with getting in quality solo practice, I connected with a graphic designer who helped me create a worksheet that distilled my solo practice strategies into a 5-step practice routine and tips that addressed specific issues like practicing expression or how to practice in limited space. Still, I felt like there was more to do and more I could share about how I had found so much success in my solo practice. So I gave away the worksheet for free and started an interest list for a full-blown practice guide.
I admit, the demons tried to hold me back and came close a few times. I’m not a professional dancer; I’m an amateur. I’m not a teacher; I’m a student. Who am I to publish a Guide on how to practice ballroom dancing on your own?
I’ve gotten pretty good at giving my demons a reality check (another skill that has improved along with my solo practice, actually). I’ve been sharing my knowledge and experiences for three years now on this blog, and people don’t seem to mind what my status is! They still find value and inspiration in what I have to give. I’ve been blessed to meet dancers virtually and in person who have been impacted by my words in a positive way. This practice guide was the next way I could help my fellow dancers find inspiration, gain confidence and perform with joy. And if that’s not freakin’ amazing, I don’t know what is.
I didn’t need to wait until I had the proper title. People needed this now, and I had the ability to provide it.
So why did I create the Solo Practice Guide for Ballroom Dancing? I guess you could say because it was in me and I needed to get it out. Or you could say because others needed it and it was in me to create it for them. I think it’s a bit of both.
Don’t forget to preorder your copy of the Guide! You only have until this Saturday, July 14. Go to practiceballroomdance.com.