Ballroom Dance > Close to giving up.

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by dgarstang, May 10, 2013.

  1. dgarstang

    dgarstang Member

    I just thought I'd provide an update san this is still a challenge for me.

    Putting asking to dance outside, not so much of an issue.

    I still enjoy the lessons (when CBD isn't cutting dropping them all the time). However, unless I've got some new things, picked up from lessons that week, to practice at the party that week, I'm bored. In addition, if I haven't had any lessons in a particular dance for a few weeks (which happens a lot, again because CBD keeps dropping classes), then I forget everything except the most basic steps, and my confidence at parties takes a dive. I've been dancing three years, and you know what, I guess I'm just not a fast learner.

    The more I learn in lessons, generally speaking, the greater the gap between what I want to try (remember, to keep the boredom away), and what the average follower knows increases. This makes attempts at leading these new things more likely to go awry, which in turn increases my frustration and decreases my confidence.

    I know it's been said that a good dancer can make a follower to anything, yet no one, not even multiple private instructors has been able to impart this magical ability on me. Unless conditions are ideal, and I am dancing with a good follower, who knows the same steps as me, having gone to all the same recent group classes as as me (which rarely happens because CBD's group class attendance rate is terrible, and very few of them attend the parties), then generally speaking, that dance is not going to be a pleasurable experience. I'm generalizing of course, but there's enough of that happening to make the parties really frustrating.

    Surely everyone goes through this stage? How do you break out of it?

  2. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    I've been dancing about three and a half years, so only a little longer than you. It's not that following is easy--it's not--but I think leading is even harder. A huge amount of technique goes into leading well and from talking to guys, the women instructors vary a lot in how much emphasis they put on teaching leading skills. My teachers know I want to be able to follow well and they emphasize that in my lessons. So, no magic bullet, but be sure that that gets emphasized in privates and ask questions about leading during classes.

    I dance at a franchise studio, but I also go to large open social dances elsewhere. I took some of the "learn the steps" classes connected to the social dance place just so that I would recognize more faces, have people to chit chat with a little, and have some idea of what the repertoire of the leaders from there might be when the lead/follow thing wasn't working out so well.

    What I have discovered is that social dances go best with leaders noticeably below or above my level. The more advanced leaders have the skills and judgement (in terms of what to try to lead) to lead me through figures that I don't know. With the more beginnerish dancers, I can figure out what they are trying to lead even if there's a little something missing. I enjoy those dances: I get to work on basics of technique and it makes me a better dancer in lots of ways. With a leader pretty much AT my level--well, there are a lot of crash and burn opportunities. For the safety of everybody concerned (leader, follower, innocent bystanders….) I would not consider doing a Viennese Waltz with a leader at (or below!!) my own level, yet I can look great in a VW with an advanced leader. With dances that are less train-wreck prone, when I dance with a leader at my own level, he either takes it down a notch from what what he might do with a more advanced dancer, or we need to have good senses of humor and an ability to roll with whatever happens.

    What I usually do at the large social dances is 1) feel free to ask guys to dance--some don't like it and I try to remember who they are so that I don't ask again. 2) Find a couple of the less advanced, newer leaders and be sure to ask them to dance 2 or 3 times (after ascertaining what dances they are most comfortable with). 3) I ask the more advanced leaders to dance ONCE per evening--they are in demand, they have their own sets of followers that they like to dance with, but they are usually very nice about dancing with me and tell me to feel free to seek them out and ask them again (I take that to mean ANOTHER evening, however). I like it when I also find intermediate dancers with a good sense of humor--we have a lot of fun.

    I am generally excruciatingly uncomfortable at these events, but nobody knows it except me (and the people I have told). I set goals for myself--dance with x number of leaders, etc.--and try to do it all with a smile on my face. Oh, the other thing to realize is that a lot of times there are choices as what to dance to a particular piece of music. You can frequently do cha cha to a lot of what is "advertised" as WCS, for example (or sometimes foxtrot, though that can be dicier in terms of navigating the floor….). And finally, practice steps on your own at home--it helps remember them when you haven't done that particularly dance for a while. (From what I have seen, ALL leaders have the issue that there is a gap between what they are "supposed" to know and what they can do on the social dance floor, so probably don't expect to be able to lead the last couple of steps you have learned very well--or at all--at a social dance).

    Hope this helps some, though it from somebody on the other side of the partnership!
    Warren J. Dew likes this.
  3. dncergrl

    dncergrl Active Member

    "Surely everyone goes through this stage? How do you break out of it?"
    If you spent as much time thinking about and working on your dancing as you do complaining about things, you would be a great dancer. I can't imagine how anyone who really wants to dance can ever be bored. Admittedly, I am am outlier, but when I was lying on a beach, I was thinking about my samba whisk and thought I found a way to troubleshoot what is happening with my hip on my "(One_) and" count. There is nothing, absolutely nothing magical about dance. As someone one said, dance is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. If you want it badly enough, you will work. On the other hand, if you don't "need" to dance, maybe you would be more content with a different hobby. If you wait for conditions to be "ideal", you won't get anywhere. That's the kind of skier I was and I never got off the bunny hill.
  4. llamasarefuzzy

    llamasarefuzzy Well-Known Member

    Right- private teachers can't magically give you the ability to lead. There is no special pill they give to their favorite students that magically impart the ability to do stuff. The best way to do this is to practice- a lot. If you were trying to improve your math skills, you would do homework. If you were trying to improve your basketball game, you would shoot hoops. If you want to become a better leader, you need to practice leading.

    Note that the best way to do this is to lead a lot at social events. If your ultimate goal is to become a good social dancer, you probably want to include a lot of social dancing in your practice. If your goal is to become a great student, you probably want to go to a lot of lessons. I'm not saying that lessons aren't a great way to learn things, but if you really want to be a proficient social leader, what you need to be doing is a lot of social dancing.

    It does sound like things have gotten a bit better- you mentioned that nobody can tell if you are nervous unless you tell them.. great! From your previous posts, this definitely seems like improvement. Maybe you should take some time to think about how far you've come- that always helps me feel a little better when I haven't been able to make as much progress on goals as I've wanted to.
    Gorme, chomsky, stash and 1 other person like this.
  5. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    Every time you are 'bored' in a dance situation, think of what would make you 'unbored'. If it does not include practice, please add it to your life; along with introspection and focus, this is a big part of the learning process. I can guarantee that you have a lot to learn even from a class that, to you, seems to not offer 'new' insights. Many teachers, for instance,find that teaching beginners like yourself gives them so much to think about, so much to understand, that many find that teaching beginners is a major part of THEIR dance education.

    Thinking that just showing up is how you learn is a recipe for failure.
    dancelvr and fascination like this.
  6. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    here's the thing...and it comes down to a link that Larinda posted on a thread I started about working through not having talks about the fallacy of defining passion as what is essential...that people people who are truly successful are able to keep on keeping on even when they are bored and the scenario is not that, which is what a good deal of adult life happens to be...this is true of all things...dancing, marriage, job success...there are a ton of things immediately more gratifying than practice...and there are a ton of things that are more consistantly gratifying than social dance....nevermind that I think it takes at least five years of private lessons with someone who is really good to even be reasonably, it's best to stop being traumatized over the fact that it isn't ideal all of the time...and do the few things that will make it better whether they are fun or not and to expect slow progress....just like most everyone else
    chomsky likes this.
  7. Partner Dancer

    Partner Dancer Well-Known Member

    Well, the 3-year mark is where lots of dancers hit the make-it or break-it point, dropping out if they really see no point to it all, perhaps taking up other hobbies.

    If you still want to keep partner dancing, and want to be a good leader one day, then you should realize that you can't be a good leader without being a good dancer. A good dancer knows how to move well, irrespective of the "pattern of the day." Are you able to do turns and spins by yourself, especially while holding your hands/arms in positions necessary for leading and interacting with the partner? Do you know how to execute Latin/Cuban motion well enough that you can move to various music tempo, using body isolations to stay in control? Can you travel and flow reasonably smoothly doing left and right turns in the travelling dances? Even more basic, do you enjoy the types of music in the dancing you do? Do you get any joy in movement itself?

    Have you taken technique classes in spin/turns, striding, etc.? Do you go to the gym to practice the solo-movement things you learned? Have you considered taking Ballet/Jazz/Modern/Tap classes to improve your movements and body awareness?

    Everyone has his/her own learning pace, as well as individual interests. You have to find your own. Lots of things to try and conquer. Or you can just sit there feeling lost and sorry for yourself, being bored.
    chomsky likes this.
  8. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Doug, I really think you should be working more on technique rather than learning new patterns in order to keep yourself from getting bored. When you dance, focus on connecting to your partner and trying to feel where she is, how her balance is, and how she responds to you as well as your own technique. There is so much you can be thinking about other than trying to lead a million patterns unsuccessfully.

    I have a friend I absolutely love dancing with. He's been dancing for about 10 years and is the most delicious latin dancer. And you know what? he does mostly basics on the social floor. But he's so focused on his partner and we both work on our technique when we dance together, so it is never, ever boring. And we both know hundreds of patterns up through gold and open. But those basics are fantastic.
    Gorme, Purr, FancyFeet and 4 others like this.
  9. freeageless

    freeageless Active Member


    I note that you state in the above post that it takes "at least five years of private lessons with someone who is really good to even be reasonable competent. " I am curious as to how you define "reasonable competent"? I note that you are a competitive dancer. Are you defining it in terms of being a competitive dancer, a social dancer or both?
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014
  10. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    I think I might answer your question, F. Reasonably competent in the group of people you are in.

    Five years is not a long time in dance education, and altho many social dancers feel they are accomplished after only a short time compared to a competitive dancer, by no means does that mean that they are competent. The skills for any dancer are acquired over a long time arc, and after 5 years, your body and mind are different than in one or two years. A competitive dancer has an advantage in learning curve since there is a syllabus and also regular measurement of skills (the competition) which always trumps random or possibly haphazard classes.

    Yes, if you spend most of that time dancing poorly, or not training, you will be incompetent, true. But assuming all is equal, the dancer of 5 years who is honestly attempting to dance with technique and skill will easily out dance someone who has danced less - or who has danced longer but with less technique training.
  11. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Do you see the contradiction here? You're bored if you don't get anything new, but you can't remember the old stuff.

    You need to practice more. A LOT more.

    About three hours per hour of lesson is the absolute minimum IMO. Practice by yourself - no, not just when you can't find someone to practice with; you need to turn things into muscle memory by yourself without the distraction of another person. This kind of practice is easy enough to do at home, if you have the dedication; you can also give yourself a good 10 minutes of drills before lessons and partnered practice. And you should find a practice partner to meet with once a week to review things.
    Gorme and chomsky like this.
  12. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    my statement about amount of time has not got anything to do with has to do with what is neccessary for Doug to dance well enough for Doug to feel successful in the expactations that HE has...the amout of time required such that he would be able to successfully lead most women most of the time and to have internalized enough information to be able to execute it well enough to also recieve the new information he craves without it being overwhelming or as easy to forget once he truly grasps the commonality in good technique
  13. Phooey

    Phooey New Member

    I hope you meant perseveration or perseverance. 99% perspiration is kinda gross... unless I've been doing this whole ballroom thing wrong the whole time. ;)
  14. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    no...she meant perspiration....and she's right
    stash likes this.
  15. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    The original quote is from Thomas Edison: "Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration", so you can consider the perspiration to be metaphorical if you prefer…. In my case, at least, it depends on what we are working on.

    (And before twenty people get upset, I have seen the quote credited to Albert Einstein as well, but a sloppily performed google search seems to indicate that it was in fact Edison.)
  16. Warren J. Dew

    Warren J. Dew Well-Known Member

    Look for a studio which has older extra ladies who go to the socials who already know most of the figures you know plus a lot more. You'll be able to practice leading your figures more easily because the ladies already know them, and they'll still be happy to dance with you.
    Loki likes this.
  17. Warren J. Dew

    Warren J. Dew Well-Known Member

    Agreed. You're not going to learn the ability to lead people through figures they don't know from an instructor that teaches "learn your part, and let your partner do her part". You need an instructor who insists on your leading her part as well as doing your part - and who is also willing to trust the lead of inexperienced students, despite the temporary negative effects on her own dancing.
  18. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    It was Edison. Unless the Henry Ford has been wrong for years....
  19. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Well, he was wrong about painting cars only black. ;)
  20. dncergrl

    dncergrl Active Member

    I head that quote as a teenager, from my ballet teacher, who was a colleague of Balanchine. Served to screw our silly teenage heads on straight. Never bothered to do the recce to investigate the source. Thanks.

    "99% perspiration is kinda gross… "

    I do mean perspiration. OK, easy to understand for jive and practising batucadas at speed, but when I finally understood how to practice rumba walks full out, I was damp in a minute and my side/back & feet muscles ached the next day. My goal is to try to attain that level of "full out" for the each and every step.
    RiseNFall likes this.

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