March 12th, 2012Steps or Technique?

“Beginning dancers prefer to take
“intermediate” level classes.
Intermediate dancers prefer to take
“advanced” level classes.
Advanced dancers take private lessons
to work on their basics.”

Beginner dancers are often overwhelmed with all the many things they need to learn. The steps, the direction (line of dance) angles etc. All this seems so complicated at first. But then you practice the steps and learn them. So far so good. It is then you realize that something just doesn’t seem right. One indication is that you have difficulty executing the steps to the music, it feels awkward. Another might be that somehow dancing seems so mechanical. Whats’s wrong, you think.

After a few months I realized that majority of instructors concentrate on teaching the steps and neglecting the proper technique. One of the reasons is that they themselves don’t know it. Some of them became instructors after completing some 18 month dance teacher course. And now they’re trying to teach you. And you as a beginner have no idea that this is what’s happening. It is only when you find an instructor that will work with you on technique side. It is then you pick up what you were missing and suddenly everything clicks.

And then you realize, wow, I don’t even need to learn those figures being only a beginner. I can learn the basic step and practice it in proper technique and that’s enough. Just look at some dance instruction videos. Even as pros show the most basic steps, they look amazing! So smooth and elegant. Wouldn’t you rather learn to dance like that first? A Jive basic step, Rumba walk, Cha Cha chasses…

So my advice to you – as a beginner, look for instructor that will teach you proper technique and not just the steps. If you learn the steps then you will learn to execute them with incorrect technique and then later on you will have to un-learn incorrect technique and learn the correct one. That will take time and it’s hard because your body is used to incorrect movements.

So concentrate on your basics first and go forward slowly. Get some quality instruction videos or even a few private lessons. Choose an instructor who was a competitor. Learn to execute the technique properly. When I am in class, I often record instructor’s demonstration on my handheld Blackberry and later watch it and study it. This way I pick up some pizzaz to spice up my own style.


  1. I’ve done so many types of dancing form all over the world. I am from Eastern Europe but I live in the States now. So, here I lreaned American square dance and line dance and Appalachian clogging. I’m also on an international folk dance team at my university and I’ve taken Irish dance and Spanish dance (hota, sevillana and flamenco). I’ve also lreaned Ukrainian. Bulgarian, Russian, Armenian, German, Italian, English, Hungarian, Mexican, Japanese, Scottish, Greek, Israeli, Indian (Bhangra and a tiny bit of Bhahratanatyam) and Macedonian dances and I’ve also performed some of these. So, it’s not that I lreaned the technique but I also lreaned the styling of each country and the traditions and customs behind the dance.Why I’m doing it? Because I absolutely love it. It’s fun, hard, rewarding and social. I have tons of friends because of folk dance. I started approximately a year ago after going to tryouts for my university’s ensemble and not making it to a team. Since then I haven’t stopped dancing. I lreaned a lot and I enjoy it more every day even when it’s hard. I dance a few hours every day and I love it. It keeps me in shape and helps me to feel optimistic and that I have a great life. It even helps me with my school work because it motivates me to do my homework so I can have time to practice the dances. I’m so glad that you enjoy folk dances too. Have fun!

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