How to dance slow down

Learn to Dance Faster by Going Slower » Dance With Brandee

The Paradox: To learn new skills quickly, slow down

I originally wrote this post for my Feldenkrais blog. But it completely applies to learning dance, so I’m re-posting it here. Enjoy!

Some people relish the opportunity to slow down and pay attention to themselves, such as doing a Feldenkrais or yoga class, or meditating. But some find this slowing down to be tremendously difficult or boring. “I like to move quickly and DO things,” I’ve had students tell me.

Feldenkrais classes certainly don’t have the pumping cardio and music of a Zumba class, and may not include the feeling of really exerting your muscles like you might get from lifting weights or holding a tough yoga pose. But the purpose of Feldenkrais isn’t to exercise your cardiovascular system or a specific set of muscles—it’s to learn and to improve all your systems, your whole self.

Learning (at least kinesthetically) happens by noticing differences. When you’re going fast, hard or repetitively, it’s difficult to notice anything other than big, glaring differences. [Notice anything in this photo of stuffed animals?]

When you slow down, you start to notice things that you’d otherwise miss.

I used to have a dance student who wanted to improve his spinning. He’d do one spin after another after another without stopping. He’d be completely off balance from one turn as he threw himself harder into the next. To him, all that energy and trying hard felt like he was doing something, yet he certainly wasn’t improving much of anything. This example is obvious, but we’ve all done this, maybe in less overt ways.

To learn or refine a skill, your nervous system needs trial and error, and to notice difference. Each time you do a spin (or throw a ball or speak a foreign word), you gain a lot of information about the nuances of how you use yourself, such as where the weight is on your feet, where you look and how you breathe. You also get a lot of feedback in terms of the result, such as how much you turned, if you were on or off balance, if something felt easy or strained, etc.

By slowing down and pausing between attempts, each new movement can incorporate adjustments based on all the information you gathered. Then you can also reduce the intensity of what you’re doing—that is, make it lighter and smaller. By going slowly and lessening your effort, you are able to actually start feeling what the heck you’re doing.

It’s this process of sensing and becoming aware that allows you to make the distinctions necessary for learning (e.g., oh, I’m pressing more with my right foot than my left). We notice what works, both consciously and unconsciously, and begin to weed out what doesn’t. When we don’t take this time to slow down and do less, we just repeat our poorly organized movement and excess effort over and over, as my spinning dance student did.

Sensing differences will improve your dancing.

This natural way of learning—by making distinctions and differentiating—is utilized in Feldenkrais lessons to achieve optimum results. As humans, we have very fine senses capable of distinguishing surprisingly fine differences. However, this requires development and practice that most of us don’t get in today’s modern world.

There are laws of human perception for how fine a difference we can notice when it comes to sight, sound, weight, etc. For weight or muscular force, the just-noticeable difference we can distinguish is roughly 1/40th. For example, if you’re carrying a 40-pound backpack, you won’t be able to detect a butterfly landing on it or even a small bird. But you will notice if a crow weighing one or more pounds does.

Now imagine you are carrying a 400-pound refrigerator. In order to notice, there would need to be a change of at least 10-pounds. This means that the more weight or muscular effort you use, the bigger the difference needs to be for you to be able to notice it. Another way to say this is: the less effort you use, the finer distinctions you can make.

When you use a lot of effort, you can’t notice much else

You can use this law to your advantage when learning a new skill. The less you do, the faster you’ll learn. Because if you can’t sense differences in your effort or movement, you’re not able to make the refinements necessary to improve what you’re doing.

So while it might not feel as though you’re “doing” a lot, you are actually achieving a great deal. Beneath your conscious awareness, your nervous system is digesting information, getting rid of what’s not necessary, and making a myriad of adjustments to get it right, just like when you first learned as a baby to successfully reach and grab an object, crawl and walk. Going slowly also gives you time to consciously focus on things you notice yourself doing that are impeding your intention, such as holding your breath or fixing your gaze.

But this “moving slowly and doing less” business isn’t a prescription for how to be in your daily life (although many of us could use more of this, myself included). Rather it is simply a learning strategy you can employ at certain times to clarify and refine movement or other skills.

Once you’ve got the thing well organized and smooth, you can do it at any speed and with as much power as you like! Just think of how much better and more efficiently you’ll be able to do the action when you need to if you’ve taken the time to slow down and learn it well.

5 Simple Steps to Master the Slow Dance for Beginners

There are many occasions to slow dance such as weddings, proms, and just wherever there is a music of a slow tempo. But, maybe you are intimidated by a slow dance. You don’t know where to put your hands, or don’t know how close to stand to the other person. What steps do you do in the slow dance? We’re not talking about a specific dance step like the Foxtrot; we are just talking about the slow dance in general. Are you a beginner-level dancer and looking for easy dance moves? In this article, we will give you five simple steps to master the slow dance so you’ll never again be fearful of being out on the dance floor when the music slows down.

Slow Dancing Arms

There are two options for your arms when you slow dance.

Option 1- Slow Dancing Arms

In this option, you can think of slow dancing as an extended hug as you and your partner sway back and forth. The female places her arms on the guy’s shoulders or hangs them loosely around his neck. The guy puts his hands on the female’s hips or wraps them loosely around her lower back. Leave enough room between you so that you both feel comfortable.

As for head placement, this depends on you and your partner’s height. If you are a couple and are dancing closely, you can rest your head on your date’s chest or over his/her shoulder. Or, you can look at each other.

It’s important to stay relaxed. Try to control your breathing by inhaling and exhaling steadily to maintain an even heart rate.

Option 2 – Slow Dancing Arms

Holding your partner’s hand is the more traditional way to sway in a slow dance. If you aren’t dating or don’t know each other well, this position can be more comfortable. The guy puts his right hand on the females’ hips or on her mid- or upper-back. If you’re dating and close, the guy can wrap his arm loosely around her waist. Then, he uses the left hand to take her hand or lace his fingers into hers. The female should put her left hand on her partner’s shoulder and hold his hand with her right hand. With this stance, your heads will probably stay forward, so you are looking at each other. Be sure to smile at your dance partner and maybe start a conversation to help relax.

Slow Dancing Feet

It’s good to be cautious of where you put your feet when slow dancing so as not to step on each other’s toes. When you first join together to dance, look down at where you and your partner’s feet fall. This gives you a general idea of how far over you can move your feet without stepping on his/her toes. 

If you are close together in the slow dance, you can put one foot between your partner’s feet and your other foot on the outside. If there is more space between the partners, you can put your toes in front of your date’s toes and about an inch off to the side. Don’t get too technical on this aspect. When your bodies come together to dance, your feet should naturally fall in place.


It’s traditional for the guy to lead a slow dance. If this is just way too traditional for your taste, then the female can change it up and lead. But, someone has to lead. To lead, gently push your partner’s hand in the way you want to go as you also move your body in that direction. Follow the music and move to the beat. To follow, just follow your partner’s moves.


The basic slow dance doesn’t require much footwork at all, so it is an easy dance for beginners. You can keep your feet planted in one place, make sure your knees are loose, and then gently sway back and forth using your hips and knees. If you are confident with this, you can gently lift your feet off the floor just a bit. These small lifts can turn you in a slow circle. Remember to keep your arms and elbows loose. This will make it easier to breathe and sway comfortably.

The Twirl

If you are leading and are feeling confident and a bit adventurous while you’re slow dancing, you can invite your partner to twirl. This is a common move so your dance partner will probably know what to expect. Take a step back from your embrace and hold your partner’s left arm up in the air with your right arm. After guiding her in turning 360 degrees, you simply return to your starting position and resume swaying.

Get Started Learning How to Slow Dance at Fred Astaire in Raleigh

Are you ready to get started learning to slow dance and other kinds of dancing? You can begin today learning these easy dance moves and enjoy the many benefits of dancing! For information on our dance classes and dance lessons, call us at (919) 872-0111 or fill out our online contact form below!

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How to Learn to Slow Dance Properly

Life Hacks

How to Slow Dance Properly: A Guide to Action

Slow dance begins with an invitation. Traditionally, the guy should invite. Sometimes the host of the event announces a white dance. This means that the girls are invited. However, in modern society it is not particularly important who invites whom, so if you want to dance with a guy, but he is not too active, feel free to go to him yourself. Invite you to a slow dance with a smile, and then your partner will definitely not be able to refuse you.

How to dance a slow dance so as not to embarrass yourself in front of your partner?


Get in position to dance. Traditionally, the girl's right hand should lie in the guy's hand. The girl's left hand is on the guy's shoulder, and the guy's right hand is on the girl's waist. Sometimes it is acceptable to put both of the girl's hands on the guy's neck, and both of the guy's hands on the girl's waist. Put your feet in a comfortable position, at a distance of about 30-40 cm from each other. The distance between the couple should be at least 15-30 cm. Only if you are in a relationship can you get closer.

Any slow dance is led by a guy. To do this, he must slightly pull the girl by the hand, showing her where he is going to move. A girl needs to feel a partner and follow him. All movements should be smooth and soft. Sharp movements in this dance will be inappropriate.

How to slow dance: useful tips

If you don't know how to dance, it's okay, everyone learns sometime. Before the dance, you can ask your partner if he can dance. If yes, let him teach you. There is nothing to be ashamed of. You will be happy to help. Here are some more helpful tips.

  • Do not lift your feet, but slide them on the floor. This way you won't step on your partner's foot.
  • Periodically make eye contact with your partner to show your interest, but don't stare at them all the time.
  • Have casual conversation while dancing.
  • If you step on your partner's foot, apologize and be careful in the future. If you have been attacked, do not be angry.

And don't forget to thank your partner when the dance is over. This old-fashioned gesture is very cute and quite appropriate.

Slow dancing is a good way to get to know your partner better, to get to know him better. Perhaps it will be the beginning of a long relationship.

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How to slow dance at school discos: advice for guys

This question is equally important for both girls and guys. Only here it is necessary to pay attention to several different points. As a rule, a guy invites you to dance. It must be done correctly. The young man approaches the girl and asks if she is dancing. If your throat is dry from excitement, you can simply stretch out your right hand with your palm up - this is a generally accepted inviting gesture. If the girl agrees, she bows her head and puts her hand over the guy's outstretched hand.

A young man, before dancing a slow dance, should learn that in the process he should not cling to the girl too much. Feeling her figure, trying to grab her hips is not the best course of action. It is much more correct to smoothly lead the partner, embracing her by the waist with her left hand, and the girl’s right hand should be held in her hand, slightly bent at the elbow. It would be nice to get in time with the music (at least not try to "overtake" the rhythm). In order not to doubt how you look in the eyes of a partner, it would be nice to rehearse in front of a mirror how to invite a girl. And in how to move to the beat of the music, it also does not hurt to practice!

What should a girl know?

A girl, before being interested in how to slow dance, needs to learn how to accept an invitation or refuse it correctly. If you agree to dance, bow your head and take the outstretched hand. If not, do not shake your head frantically and loudly declare that you do not want to dance with this individual. Just shake your head and apologize.

In the dance, you should not hang yourself on your partner's neck, lay your head on his shoulder (unless, of course, you are an official couple). It is definitely not worth taking on a leading role and trying to lead. It's the guy's prerogative. That's all! There is nothing complicated about how to slow dance with a guy, no! You just need to demonstrate the femininity that is characteristic of girls.

For both girls and guys, in order to understand how to slow dance, it is worth watching a couple of films - this will become an object lesson.

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