Do You Need More Lessons Or More Practice?

I was talking to another student at my book signing at SM Dance Fashion yesterday. In about a year, she’s taken on learning three different styles of ballroom and has competed in two of them. She’s been able to do so much in so little time because she takes about eight lessons a day, five days a week! The one thing she hasn’t really done is practice on her own.

Then there’s me. Over my six-plus years of dancing ballroom, I’ve also learned three different styles and competed in two. I usually take two lessons a week, and I practice at least once a week for at least one hour.

The extreme differences in our dance training journeys got me thinking. I’ve said before that lessons with your teacher and your solo practice are like two sides of the same coin. But is one side more important than the other? If you’re struggling in your dancing, do you need more lessons or more practice on your own?

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Staying Committed To My Goals, Not Attached To How I Get There

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I saw this graphic on Instagram this weekend. Aside from the small grammatical errors (I can’t help myself), it’s quite hilarious. New Year’s Resolutions, especially those related to physical fitness, have become a cliche because of how easily they’re made and then forgotten.

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Dancing Without Music

Dancing is literally defined as moving rhythmically to music. Many of our lessons and practice time in ballroom, however, happen without music. Even when we do get to dance to music in our training, it’s not going to be the same music that we’ll dance to at competition. It seems to be a challenge unique to ballroom. I remember explaining this to people who had experience with the more mainstream dance competitions, where dancers compete with routines choreographed to specific songs, and being looked at like I was crazy.

You don’t know what music you’ll be dancing to??

Nope. And if you enter a Jack and Jill event, you won’t even know who your partner is going to be!

How do you prepare for that??

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You’re Making More Progress Than You Think

Do you ever feel like you’re going nowhere fast? Like you’re stuck in a hamster wheel or walking the wrong way on one of those moving walkways in the airport?

That’s how I feel on the tougher days. Those days when I feel like it doesn’t matter how hard I work, I just can’t seem to make any progress. My to-do pile at the day job is growing faster than my done pile. I practiced over and over, but I still can’t seem to get that move right in my dance lesson. I’m doing “all the things” to grow my business, but the return still feels small.

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Learning to Bend the Rules of Ballroom

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.

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Guest Post: Behind the Scenes of the Dancing with the Stars Season 27 Finale

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!

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