Learning to dance is a journey, and we want to give you a bit of a roadmap of what lies ahead!
Let’s see what this dancing thing is about, and lay the foundations so you can be a capable social dancer.
Foundations 1 & 2
- You get to know your teacher well
- You start to meet make friends at the studio
- Your brain will be learning how to learn to dance
- You’re setting the foundations in terms of dance technique
- You experiencing many new styles of dance, this gives you variety and helps make you a versatile dancer in the future
- You are learning about music and timing
- You are learning how the studio works and how to get the most of your dancing and your practice time
- You are learning about line of dance and dance floor etiquette
Watch out for…
Learning too quickly! Imagine you’re building a block of apartments, the time, energy and effort you put into laying a quality foundation will affect the longevity & quality of the building.
Skipping levels in groups classes. Each level of class is reliant on members having completed the previous level(s) of dancing. If you have not completed the preceding level it makes it hard for your teacher to teach the correct material and it can frustrate other members that are trying to learn new material. If you’re unsure of which level is best for you, ask your teacher.
Spending too little time on technique. Learning technique is generally not as much fun as learning a new step but it is worth it for long term dance enjoyment!
Waiting too long to get involved with the community/social events or group classes. Every week at QuickSteps there are new people starting. Your first group class or social event might be scary but the sooner you do it the more enjoyment you can get out of your dancing long term and the more people you will get to know in the community. If you’re worried ask your teacher to introduce you to some of the other new members that started the same month as you so you can all be scared together. Safety in numbers!
Year 2 and 3
Learn some groovy new step patterns and becoming more confident and stylish on the dance floor.
Foundations 2 and the beginning of Open
- You will start to use ‘continuity’ in your dancing
- You will have a better understanding of music, and can start to pick songs to match each dance style
- You will begin adding new styles such as; Foxtrot, Swing, and Cha Cha to your repertoire
- You will start to notice more similarities between dance steps and styles and might be able to guess what a step looks like just by hearing the name!
- You are no longer just dancing with your feet but starting to move your body in a way that makes your dancing look natural.
Watch out for…
Learning too quickly! Yes – this one again. If you skip ahead too quickly, your dance foundations will be shakey and you might not last long enough to become a great dancer.
Skipping levels in group classes. If you suffered from this temptation in your first year, chances are it’s becoming an issue in year 2. Be patient. Your teacher isn’t holding you back because they get pleasure at slowing you down – but because they know it’s important for your dancing, and unfair to others at higher levels if you go into group classes that you are not ready for.
Giving up on arm styling. Arm styling is a tricky thing that many people feel uncomfortable with and sometimes give up on it too early. If you do this you may find that you get to your 3rd and 4th year of dancing and feel your balance is off and that you don’t have the polish that other dancers have 🙁
Getting too big for your boots… This sounds like a joke but it can/does happen. With year 2 comes a new surge of confidence and that’s great but remember to be careful of other people’s feelings. Remember how you felt when you first started dancing and be kind to others. Everyone’s trying 🙂
Giving up if your teacher leaves. Everyone loves their first teacher, it’s natural but just remember that no one stays at one job forever, including your teacher. Your teacher will leave at some point in your dancing and you will be forced to move on. Give your new teacher a chance, communicate with them openly about what you do and don’t like and most times you will fall in love all over again… 😉
Getting Comfortable in Open
You’ll start to pick up step patterns much more quickly and easily this year as the puzzle pieces start to fall into place. You’re going to be learning new techniques and body movements that will push you and you can now dance to just about anything with anyone!
If your dream has always been to be dancing in the spotlight you might even start working on a routine with your teacher to perform at the Ball.
Open and possibly a performance…
- You are finding that new step patterns are much quicker and easier to learn, and you already know most of the ‘puzzle’ pieces that make up that step
- Your teacher may invite you to perform a solo routine at the Ball to push yourself out of your new comfort zone
- Technique finally makes sense and dancing things with technique feels better than dancing it without
- Dances that were previously more challenging like foxtrot, cha cha and swing are just as easy as rumba. Thank goodness! 🙂
- Social events are fun and easy and you can confidently dance with anyone that attends
- You are dancing on auto pilot and have finally reached that level of unconscious competence. Congratulations! Not sure what ‘unconscious competence’ is? Check it out here!
- You are able to dance with your feet, hips, ribs, arms, back and head all at the same time. You’re dancing top to toe!
- You will now be able to dance at the drop of a hat for the rest of your life! Woohoo!
- Other dances watch you in awe and can’t wait to dance the way that you do!
Watch out for…
Being too confident and going straight to Specialist classes without completing Open level classes.
As with all levels there is material in Open that you really need to master for Specialist to be enjoyable.
Doing a performance that is too difficult. If it is your first time performing choose a style that is nice and easy to start with such as waltz, rumba or rock ‘n roll. You will have an attack of the nerves the first time you perform and the actual routine will be the last thing you will be thinking about. Make it easy on yourself so you can perform well and come away with positive memories.
Be careful about performing together as a couple. This is a lovely thing to do, but if you have never performed before, trust me, you will want a teacher out there with you on the night.
Getting frustrated with yourself when you don’t get it right the first time. Remember back when you started learning to dance? It was so much fun and that’s the whole point! At this point, some dancers can take it too seriously and judge themselves very critically. Be kind to yourself and continue to enjoy the learning process as you did on day 1 when there were no expectations.
Being a negative influence in the studio when things don’t go your way. Your studio and the teachers that run it want you to be happy… that’s why they’re there! If you have something negative tell them, or the studio manager, please do so in private and they will do their best to fix it. At this point, members can feel a sense of ownership and comfort that can affect others negatively so remember to be kind to those around you 🙂
Ready for specialist?
Members are generally ready for specialist at a minimum after 4 years of dancing.
The time it takes depends on a few factors
- How often you attend group classes and private lessons
- How many routines you have done (routines are fun, but often a distraction)
- How much you’ve gotten stuck into techique
Some members are happy to focus on doing performance routines and Open level classes and never want to push themselves to get to Specialist level.
Others are laser focused, and get there earlier.
We just want to make sure everyone has the same minimum knowledge before joining these classes to ensure the Specialist class teachers can teach at a certain level.
Most members do their exam. WE know some people are scared of exams, so if you’d prefer some more relaxed format, eg a ‘progress check’ that is OK with us.
Specialist and beyond…
- You’ll have a few routines under your belt by now
- You are well versed in most of the partner styles and have a good understanding of what styles look like even if you have never danced them! You’ve seen it all…
- You have been to most of the dance events around Adelaide and go out dancing regularly
- You can dance with anyone and feel confident in following them regardless of the style that is played
- Your technique is excellent and you apply it naturally without having to break it down and layer it over every new step
- You’ve had the pleasure of enjoying the instruction of 2-3 different teachers now and have taken the best knowledge from each of them
Watch out for…
Getting stuck in a performance loop. If you have performed a few routines in a row it is a good idea to spend a good 6 months or so working on your social dancing
Not having a break when you need one. You have learned a lot now! If you feel you are a bit bored or not putting in the effort you used to try not to let that effect other people’s experience – have a break, talk to your teacher about new challenges, or talk to other members about what inspires them. You might find a new angle, or insight, that re-inspires you!