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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Staying Present

Dance has this wonderful power to make everything else disappear. There’s just you, the music, and if it’s a partner dance, the person you’re dancing with. Whatever was bothering you earlier in the day is gone. Unpaid bills, stress at work, unfinished tasks – it all just fades away when you move your body to music.

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Guest Post: Non-Dancing Dance Lessons – Melissa Cyr | DanceSport Place

I’m pleased to welcome Melissa Cyr of DanceSport Place for a mid-week guest post! Pay attention because this article is packed full of value and answers a few questions I know you’ve been wondering about. Meanwhile, I’ll be practicing my drills.

You’ve had a long day. It’s finally time for your dance lesson and you quickstep it to the car and head to the studio. You can’t wait to lace up your practice shoes and be transported from paperwork and drudgery to footwork and self-discovery.

Your coach starts the lesson but to your dismay, halfway through you’re still working on solo rumba walks across the floor. By the end of the lesson, you’ve hardly been in dance position at all, and haven’t danced together once to music.

The lesson ends and although you learned something (like how can rumba walks be so complicated?!) and your legs will be sore tomorrow, you feel unsatisfied.

“What happened to the dreamy laps around the floor, communing with my partner and the music? What about reviewing the new choreography we were working on for the showcase? It feels like I didn’t dance at all today. It felt more like a mind numbing session on the rumbawalk stair master.” 

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What does your dancing need now?

Hello lovely dancers! Just a quick question for you today. I’ve been fighting a migraine all weekend, so I’m trying to minimize my time in front of the computer screen.

At my last dance lesson, Teacher and I were discussing feedback we got from another coach regarding my performance at Emerald Ball. The feedback was really positive; she noted a lot of improvements (yay!). But one thing that stood out to her was my vertical position wasn’t completely vertical. I looked like I was leaning back while I was dancing. She also noted that I wasn’t finishing my arms in their styling.

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Eyes Up! Fighting My Own Nature

“You dropped–” 

“I KNOW!”

That was Teacher and me at my last lesson. I was the one yelling in frustration. 

It was the first lesson after the practice rounds on Saturday. Teacher had gotten comments back from the studio owner. I love getting these critiques and to my relief, there was nothing surprising. There is something comforting about learning that there isn’t anything major that you’ve been doing wrong that both you and your partner were unaware of. All of the comments were things Teacher and I have discussed and worked on before.

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I’ve Got Rhythm

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before: along with lessons with Teacher, I also take private lessons once a week with Teacher’s friend in exchange for working at a bunch of social dances he ran last year. He is all about social ballroom dancing, so we work on American rhythm dances like rumba, cha cha and east coast swing, plus salsa, samba and occasionally bolero, all with that social focus. There are no specific routines or discussion of technique, it’s all about following and musicality.

Quite different from my lessons with Teacher.

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