If you follow me on social media, then you probably noticed I was on a lot more than usual this past week. I went live on Facebook almost every day to tell the story behind the Solo Practice Guide. The funny thing was, as I was sharing the story so others could learn more about the Guide, I was realizing that my solo practice strategies have had a much greater impact than just improving how I practiced.
When you learn ballroom, you learn that there are rules. There are specific guidelines on how to execute a crossover break or a twinkle step. There are a million little details to remember to ensure your dancing is “right.” Different styles have different rules. You have to remain in closed frame when dancing Standard. You’re supposed to arrive on a straight leg in Latin. The follower’s left hand hooks under the lead’s arm in Tango and rests on top in Waltz.
So many rules to learn and abide by. I don’t mind actually. For the most part, I am a rule follower. I like the structure that the rules of ballroom dancing provide because I like to have a way to know if I’m “right” or “wrong.” Call it a leftover impulse from being a good student in school or a symptom of my need for external validation.
I’m excited to welcome Laura as a guest writer today! She had the exciting opportunity to be an audience member at this past Monday’s live taping of the Season 27 finale of Dancing with the Stars (the one that’s causing a bit of commotion on the internet!). If you were surprised at the final results watching from home, then read on to find out what it was like in person!
This past Saturday, I spent pretty much my entire day at the studio to attend an American Smooth dance camp. My studio holds these all-day camps at least once a quarter, and usually two in a row – one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Both amateur and professional ballroom dancers attend the classes, sometimes sharing classes and sometimes splitting into separate groups. All have their heads filled with dance knowledge from top-level coaches.
Have you had the opportunity to attend workshops like these but wondered if it would be too much for you or you weren’t “good enough” yet?
Even at the risk of being overwhelmed, you should definitely include these kind of workshops or dance camps in your dance training, in my humble opinion. Here’s why:
First, a confession: I did not go to the studio for my Sunday solo practice today.
Whether you started your dance training at 3, 30 or 70, one trait I’m sure we share as dancers is we are some of the most self-critical creatures on the planet. That means small disappointments can have big impacts on our psyches.
Check out my guest post on The Whole Dancer about how I’ve learned to dance through disappointment.
If you’ve been dancing ballroom for awhile and especially if you’re a competitor, then you have a decent-sized library of routines and drills that you can use in your solo practice. Your content is plentiful; you just have to decide what your focus will be based on your next event or longer term goals.
But what if you’re just getting started in ballroom? You’re on your first or second lesson package at your studio, you’re still breaking in your first pair of real dance shoes, and not in a million years can you imagine yourself wearing a costume covered with rhinestones. You don’t have any choreographed routines. Heck, you’re still trying to remember the difference between “cross body lead” and “crossover break.”
Have no fear, young grasshoppers! You too can reap the benefits of solo practice. You just need a slightly different approach while you build up your ballroom dance knowledge base. And don’t worry, I mixed up the names of the “cross” steps too.
So ironically, after writing my last blog post about recovering from a bad day, this weekend, I find myself having a tough time. If you caught my social media on Friday evening, then you know we experienced the very-rare-for-Orange-County thunderstorm! I love a good summer thunderstorm (we’ll ignore the fact that it’s October because it’s still in the 70s/80s here). But unfortunately, I also live with seasonal affective disorder, so gloomy weather makes me gloomy. It was gray and rainy all day on Saturday, and by Sunday morning, even though the sun started to come out, I was also feeling quite gray.