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Learn the Rules Before Breaking Them – Social Dance Edition

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Just like in many other areas of life, I think “learn the rules before breaking them” advice can be useful in social dancing. It is necessary to master some things, like a good technique in fundamentals, before moving on to the next. Here are some situations where a solid base would be necessary in order to proceed.

Learn the Dance Before Adding Styling

If your dance fundamentals are not clean, then creative styling won’t make your dance look better, in fact, it will make it worse! Firstly you should make your technique as clean as possible and only then start adding decorations on top.

Learn the Dance Before Developing Your Own Style

In order to develop your own voice and style within a dance style, you need to first learn the dance and its existing substyles very well. You need to know what you’re working with, what the boundaries are and how far you can take it before you turn it into a completely different dance style.

Learn to Dance in Socks Before Learning to Dance in Heels

This advice might seem controversial, but it doesn’t make sense to have people who already have trouble balancing barefoot dancing in heels. Even sneakers can hinder your technique since it’s hard to learn the subtle sliding/projection techniques with your feet. There’s a reason why students in jazz or dance technique classes are in socks or barefoot!

Learn the Dance Before Expecting a Magical Connection

If you don’t know the dance very well, technical issues may get in the way of you finding a good connection with your partner. Imagine trying to do a dip – your expectations are that it’s sensual and magical and musical, but then you don’t do the proper preparation, trip over your own legs, and hurt your back because you don’t know you need to bend your upper back instead of your lower back. Where’s the magic and enjoyment here? Good technique will give you more ways to enjoy the dance.

I believe following the right order of learning will ensure you set yourself up for success and get to do the fun stuff better and sooner. You can argue that a dancer will never stop working on their fundamentals, and I agree 100% – it’s just that dancers may not realise how long it takes to have a solid base and start trying to bring in the cool extra stuff too soon.

Do you agree or disagree? Let me know!

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