Change Partner Policy: It is our policy to change partners often during our group instruction. We find that learning to dance with a variety of partners speeds your learning and best simulates real world social dance situations. Each new partner will teach you something about how to lead or follow. You’ll find that you are much improved by the time you return to your regular partner, if you have one. When couples only dance with each other they often develop arbitrary clues, ie: one wink means go left; two taps on the back means turn right. It is important to develop sound lead and follow skills based on leverage, momentum and weight changes.
Leading vs Following: Leaders and followers should understand how challenging it is to learn to lead. You’ll find that leaders have 5 distinct tasks that they are learning when they begin, while followers have only two. Leaders need to learn how to 1) Execute the pattern 2) Lead the pattern 3) Navigate the Line of Dance 4) Plan the next pattern in advance 5) Stay in time with the music. The follower, on the other hand, 1) Follows the pattern 2) maintains a toned dance frame. We’ve all heard that true “multi-tasking” is impossible. This is why it takes the leader more time and practice to become proficient. Please be patient with the leaders as they learn. Later, more responsibility is shifted to the follower as she becomes, the picture within the man’s frame.
The importance of Courtesy in a Group Class: It is important to give only positive feedback to your partners in group class. You may be tempted to criticize or offer suggestions, but please leave that to the teachers. You may think you’re being helpful but may, in fact, be hurting someone’s feelings, or you may be completely wrong in your critique. The only appropriate response after a dance is “thank you, that was great”!
Benefits of the 3 Way learning System: The 3 Way learning System is the best recipe for success! 1) Group Classes teach you patterns 2) Private lessons teach you styling, technique and comfort 3) Parties are fun and social, and let you practice in a supervised setting. Practice helps you create muscle memory, which leads to comfortable, easy dancing.
Dancers are Made, not Born: The beauty of our system is that anyone can learn to be a great dancer! Most people believe they need to have a natural-born talent to be able to dance, but the fact is that great dancers are made, not born. Even someone who has never taken a step in their lives can dance if they have quality instruction, time, and practice. Imagine the first time you drove a car or played a sport. Everything was awkward and mechanical, and kind of scary. Knowledge and practice made these activities easy over time. And dancing is fun to learn. It’s social. It keeps us moving, learning, interested, and interesting to others.
Some Thoughts About Taking Group Classes: Classes are not just about memorizing patterns – they are about training your body to look natural, comfortable, and attractive on the dancefloor, and making your partner look and feel just as good!
It is possible to become a good dancer only taking group classes, but one must “enjoy the journey” and not rush through the levels. Even with regular private lessons, a student should expect to spend 18 -24 months in Level 1-5 group classes. Without private lessons to reinforce good habits and technique a student should expect to spend at least 3 years or more in Level 1-5 classes. Our best dancers have spent a minimum of one full year in Level 1 & 2 and continue to stay in bronze level (1-5) classes 5 to 6 years later.
Our group class system takes a student through the Dance Vision and USISTD American style syllabi in a structured manner, allowing patterns, technique, form, and style to develop together over time. As Vince Lombardi once said, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect”. We urge our students to allow their bodies and minds to “practice perfectly” by progressing methodically through the group class levels.