How to start ballroom dancing

How Do I Get Started With Ballroom Dance Lessons?

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FAQ:  How Do I Get Started With Ballroom Dance Lessons? 

Answer:  Without question, the best way to start with ballroom dance lessons is to learn in a dance studio.  As easy as it may seem, dancing can, unfortunately, be miscategorized as an activity that is only for those born with "dance skill", which couldn't be further from the truth. The road to ballroom dance skills begins with finding a studio, scheduling an appointment, and taking your first steps onto a dance floor, and into a world much more accessible than you may have once thought. 

Reputation over Convenience

When looking for the right dance studio, it is essential to find one that has a great reputation, first and foremost.  Sites like Yelp, and Google Reviews, make that much easier and more accessible than ever.  While it may be easy to go with an option that is close to your home or office, a reputable school that is a further drive will create a much better experience in the long run, than a convenient school that isn't.  

Compare this to your favorite restaurant, a great hair salon, or your favorite kid-friendly museum - there are places that are worth the drive because they deliver a memorable experience. 

Being Real About Resources

No amount of alcohol, faking it, or "feeling the music" can take the place of instruction from a professional instructor in a reputable dance studio. Unfortunately, many of these situations have to be experienced, in embarrassing fashion, for corrections to be made.  

If this were a game of golf, driving a car, or cooking a meal for dinner guests - the same advice would be true.  There's a reason why there will always be some that struggle with any given activity, and that reason usually was the result of a decision to dismiss the idea of lessons.  

The Truth About Dance Videos

There are resources like manuals and videos, but instruction works best when it is a collaborative and interactive process.  Beginning with consistent private lessons will develop a foundation in your dance skills, and muscle memory to make them an eventual habit.  

A Test to Add Value

Since ballroom isn't an activity that people generally grow up doing, it's important to try out a lesson before making any purchasing decisions. Any product, not just ballroom dance lessons, has no value if you lack interest or experience in it.  This is precisely why most studios will start with a complimentary lesson.  So you, the prospective student, can see and feel the value first hand before making any commitment of time or resources. 

The First Steps

Your first steps into your first dance lesson may take a bit of courage.  It's a new activity, and it may have all the same adrenaline spiking attributes as walking in to your first day of a new job, a new gym, or a new school.  As is the case with most things outside of your comfort zone, there are internal rewards for crossing the physical threshold of your chosen dance studio.  

Next Article:  Should I Choose Private Lessons or Group Classes?  

Answers to Difficult Ballroom Dancing Questions
The Side Effects of Ballroom Dancing
Ballroom Dancing Wounds and How to Recover From them
Are You a Ballroom Dancing Conspiracy Theorist?

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How to Get Started Dancing


The vast majority of new dancers will remain social dancers all of their life and will reap many benefits from this activity. A competent social dancer is always welcomed and in great demand at social events.

Besides the valuable social benefits of dancing, your participation in a regular program of ballroom dancing will produce significant mental and physical health benefits. Dancing is a great stress reliever. It stimulates the brain. It builds confidence, alertness and a good attitude. It also has been proven to be a great physical benefit as it physically tones the whole body in enjoyable exercise. In summary, dancing will add a new and very beneficial dimension to your life.

Getting Started

So, how do you get started as a social dancer? The first step, determine if there’s a USA DANCE INC Chapter in your area. If so, you can attend a chapter social dance, introduce yourself to one of the chapter officers and ask for help in getting started as a ballroom dancer. They will be happy to help you get started on the right foot and become familiar with options in your area for instruction and social dance opportunities.

Chapters have frequent social dances and most of them start with a one-hour dance lesson. Many chapters offer affordable weekly group dance lessons, especially for beginners. Those classes will be an excellent place to commence your dance training. You will learn rapidly and will have the time of your life while learning.

The Newsletters issued by chapters include useful information regarding local studios and independent dance instructors that offer group ballroom dance classes and private instruction for beginners.

If there is no USA DANCE INC Chapter in your community, do not despair! Many colleges provide ballroom dance classes as part of their continuing education programs. Also, the programs of many city or county recreational departments include ballroom dance classes. Some organizations such as the YWCA, Community Centers, Elks or Moose Lodges offer dance lessons to their members and guests.

Your best approach will be to seek out opportunities to take group lessons in the particular dance in which you are interested. The Calendar of Events and Entertainment sections of your local newspaper may provide information on scheduled dance classes and other dance events.

If your budgets permits, and you are so inclined, a local commercial dance studio will be happy to arrange a full program of private lessons, group lessons, weekly dance parties, trips to special dance events, etc. The local USA DANCE chapter and your new dancing friends are a good resource for obtaining information on pricing and quality of instruction, as these often vary from one place to another.

Selection of Your Instructor

Your most important decision after you decide to become a social dancer is the selection of your instructor. The instructors now working with your local USA DANCE chapter are a good source of qualified instruction.

Chapter Newsletters usually include a list of the local dance studios and independent instructors.

Ask each prospective instructor for a resume, including professional tests and examination credentials certifying the level of teaching qualification attained by that instructor. Such credentials, when accompanied by actual experience in teaching beginner dancers, such as yourself, offer a good measure of assurance that you will not waste your time and money learning things that at a later stage you will need to relearn.

Dance Styles

It is often a good idea to start with group lessons in the American style Bronze syllabus. This will give you a basic foundation for social dancing that will be useful all of your life. The odds are that after you become involved in group classes and witness dancing events, you will soon “pick” a favorite dance or dances in which to seek special training.

Partner Versus No Partner

Ballroom dance includes any dance performed with a partner. However, it is not necessary to have a regular partner when you first start dancing. Most group classes accept singles and you should not hesitate to commence without a partner.

However, if you already have a partner, it will be best that you learn together. You will quickly find that learning to dance together adds an entirely new and beneficial dimension to your relationship.

Private Lessons Versus Group Classes

Which are best? It depends on you and your budget. Private lessons are more expensive but they also provide individualized attention that can greatly speed up the learning process. On the other hand, group lessons are inexpensive and are a good way to try out a variety of dances and meet new friends.

Most beginner dancers find the environment of learning together as a group stimulating, challenging and lots of fun. Also, group classes provide social interplay and the opportunity to both meet and dance with other beginners. We recommend that you start your adventure into the new and joyful world of social dance by attending group classes with other beginners.

Some beginner dancers may feel the need for more privacy as they strive to untangle two left feet. In such cases, a few private lessons may give them the confidence to then join a group class.

If you are taking group lessons and find you are unable to keep up with the group, miss some lessons or are having difficulty with a particular figure, it may be advisable to purchase a few private lessons and use them to catch up with your classmates. Group lessons tend to focus on steps and patterns rather than on technique, so a private lesson every few weeks to refine technique can be quite beneficial and enhance your progress.


Some studios and some independent dance instructors ask students to sign a contract for a specified number of lessons with a price that may include private lessons, group lessons, dance parties, workshops, dance weekends, cruises, etc. Just remember, none of it is free and you may not need or be able to take advantage of, or be able to afford all that is in such packages.

The best approach is to learn the basics of dancing without becoming involved in formal contracts, at least until you are familiar with what is offered in your community, what your needs are and what your budget allows. There are many excellent independent instructors and studios that offer dance instructions on a pay-as-you-go basis with no formal contracts. Seek them out and use their services whenever possible. USA DANCE chapters are normally familiar with the wide range of instructors in their service area and can help you do that.

Key Elements

Becoming a good dancer always includes three key elements; expert instruction, practice and frequent use of what you are learning. If your training program does not include an appropriate amount of all three you will be wasting much of your time and money.

Take a few minutes each day to practice what you have been working on in class. Spend 15 minutes each day to focus your mind and body on executing the figures to reinforce the learning process and give you the confidence to then apply those skills in a social dance setting.

Last, its vital that you attend a social dance at least once each week and put into use the things you have learned. Remember! “You use it or lose it!”

The Payoff

It will not happen overnight but as you learn and put into practice the things you learn in class your confidence in your dance abilities will increase and you will begin to capture the joy of dance. Soon other dancers will be seeking you out and asking you to dance with them. You will have arrived!

A Special Request

Please copy this article and give it to all who are interested in learning to ballroom dance. Urge them to give it a whirl! Tell them that dancing will add zest and joy to their lives.

Youth and College Dancers

Are you a youth or college student? If yes, please visit Youth and College Dancers for information on special programs that may be available to you.

where to start the journey into the world of beauty

Once upon a time, ballroom dancing was taught from an early age, not knowing how to waltz was considered shameful. Today, the classics are back, the ability to dance will come in handy at the reception, and at a romantic date, and at a wedding.

Which of the girls in childhood did not dream of sliding along the parquet in a waltz, like Cinderella or Natasha Rostova? The era of balls has passed, but there is always the opportunity to feel like a princess. And this is not a fairy tale, not a fantasy, but ballroom dancing, where to start learning depends on your preparation, age and place of residence, but desire should always come first! Plunge into the world of charm and you will see how life will be filled with new notes. nine0003

  1. Dance history
  2. There are no old couples - there are seniors
  3. What is needed for classes

Dance history

Ballroom dancing, according to the classical definition, must be paired. A man and a woman communicate in the language of movements: either passionately and passionately, as in the Latin American rumba and samba, or stiffly and coldly - in the European standard.

The familiar term "ballroom" came from medieval Europe, where it referred to non-professional secular dances. And only in the twentieth century did dances with African and Latin American roots penetrate into the ballroom group. nine0003

In 1920 in England ballroom dancing turned from a pleasant pastime into competitive dancing. It was then that, at the official level, the Ballroom Dancing Council divided them into groups: sports, in which contests and competitions are held, and social ones. Until 1950, five Latin American dances were gradually added to the European fast and slow waltzes, foxtrot and tango.

Since then, two directions, two competitive programs have been actively developing: European and Latin American. And to this day they are the base in the training of dancers. nine0003

There are no old couples - there are seniors

You can start dancing at any age. Of course, you can become a professional provided that you got into this sport in early childhood. However, as in sports, there are Olympic champions, and there are those who practice for themselves, for the soul. In this case, the main thing is desire. If you want to dance, dance!

If you live in the city, contact the Palace of Culture, clubs, fitness centers. Surely there are several different studios, sections in which lovers of waltzing are engaged. Groups in them, as well as in competitions, are divided by age. nine0003

Children start dancing at the age of 4-5, and this group corresponds to the standard "Children 0". And the “oldest” ones dance in the “Seniors 4” group, in which the youngest partner is 80 years old or more. There are twelve age groups in total.

Of course, it's great if you have a training partner. Its absence is most often the stumbling block, due to which the impulses of the soul remain unfulfilled. Good dance schools will help you find a partner, or they will offer you to study with specially invited professionals. Most likely, this service, like others, is not free. nine0003

By the way, ballroom dancing is expensive. Gorgeous concert costumes, professional shoes, well-groomed appearance, chic hairstyles and makeup - all this takes time, effort and money. But it's worth it.

An indescribable feeling when in an exquisite ball gown emphasizing femininity and fragility, you slide along the parquet to the enchanting sounds of a waltz. Or you “light up” in the jive, completely surrendering to the rhythm and pressure of the music.

What you need to practice

So, if you want to practice ballroom dancing for the soul, you first need to find a dance school. Next, you will need shoes with a medium stable heel. Of the clothes in training, it is better to have not trousers, but a classic short skirt and a light, tight T-shirt. Even at rehearsals, you should feel like a lady, and your partner - a man. For concerts, if any, dresses can be borrowed from the wardrobe of clubs, theaters, or rented.

Another thing is if you live in a small village, town, where there is not even a dance club. No problem. Buy or download video tutorials and practice on your own at home. Involve your friends in this, it will be more fun. nine0003

Of course, in a small room, in an apartment, it is difficult to perform a full-fledged waltz tour, but the Latin American program is danced practically on the spot. And "Cha-cha-cha" or "Jive" is a great solution if there is no pair.

Thanks to ballroom dancing, like oriental dancing, plasticity, a sense of rhythm, and self-confidence develop. Even walking will be different. Reminds me of the Dirty Dancing movies. Here is an example of how non-professionals became the stars of the dance floor due to their desire to dance.

Start by learning the simplest movements. Mandatory warm-up, then learning individual elements. And you combine everything into a single complex of movements, the dance itself.

By the way, competitions have strict rules regarding “access” to program movements. Some elements are allowed to be included in your program only when you are at a certain level according to the classification of dancers. The same goes for performance clothing. For violations in appearance at competitions, points can be deducted. nine0003

If possible, be sure to attend contests and competitions where you can watch the performances of professionals. Often at such meetings, master classes are held for amateurs with learning various elements, they talk about new trends. The teaching staff is also trained.

Ballroom dancing is a noble sport and art at the same time. This is a story of the relationship between two people, told through gestures, body plastics and, of course, music. Perhaps this is your calling, and you will expand your capabilities over time, for example, master incomparable dances with dogs. nine0003

15 tips for those who don't know how to start dancing

After six years of dancing, Masha Botvinina found out whether it is possible to lose weight while dancing, and which part of the body usually hinders a dancer the most. Her advice to beginners is invaluable.
A few years ago, I enrolled in a dance school. Just. Quite by accident I saw an ad in the LiveJournal feed. I didn’t have global tasks like “lose weight here” or “pump up here”. I needed a boring physical activity - and I suddenly decided that dancing was what I needed. nine0003

And recently it suddenly dawned on me: I have been studying for the sixth year. I mentally went over the last few years: I changed 3 jobs and 4 guys, but dancing has not gone away!

Therefore, if you are also starting to dance or are thinking about it, here are practical tips that have been tested on personal experience.

1. By exercising 1-2 times a week, you can completely tone the muscles, pump up some, and even pump up some very well. But not all. Systems that are not involved in dancing (for example, biceps-triceps) will stand out deplorably against the background of those that are involved. nine0003

2. Lose some weight - yes, you can. But radically, you can't. Dancing is not a gym, so you, cheers, will have excellent muscles, and on top, alas, your own fat.

3. All beginners are usually worried about the question “Will I be able to dance cool at the disco later?” It all depends on you and the dance. If you learn to dance hip-hop - and go to a hip-hop club - yes. But my Irish dances will help only in a pub)))

4. Everyone can learn to dance. You too. If your teacher says that dancing is not for you, you can safely burn him with a look: this is not your teacher, and indeed not a teacher at all. nine0003

5. It's never too late to learn how to dance. In modern schools there is no age limit. Even ballet schools have groups for adults. So what do you have to lose?

It's never too late to dance!

6. If you came to the first lesson and your group was full of people, don't be alarmed: a third won't come to the second lesson, because they won't like the unusually large workload. In a month, another third will not come, whose desire to study will be broken by the realization that “like in Riverdance” something did not work out in a month ... Then from those who remained, there will be another third - the rest will stretch something for themselves, break, move to another city or just get killed. This is how natural selection and reduction of groups to normal numbers is carried out. nine0003

7. You will surely have a part of the body that will constantly get in the way and strive to do what you do not want. For example, in my Irish they are hands. Here they are needed to tie shoelaces, but the rest of the time they are not. You may sometimes want to tear them off. At such moments, remember that tying shoelaces with your teeth is not at all comme il faut. And there is also a chance that you will gather for group Irish dances. There are rumors that they move their hands there too.

This is me. I think how hands interfere)))

8. You will most likely need special footwear. If, again, you go to the Irish dances that I go to, you will need at least 2 pairs of shoes: step shoes and soft leather slippers. If you bought shoes and they seem comfortable to you, go to class in them. If you still think that they are comfortable, this is not your shoe. When looking at exactly your shoes, you should want to wrap your legs with a band-aid up to the knee. If these sacrifices are not for you, try dancing in sneakers or even barefoot. nine0003

Step shoes, they are also "hard", they are also step shoes

9. After six months of training, you will learn how to pathetically jump over puddles. This is one of the biggest bonuses. However, in a couple of years you will carefully sidestep all the puddles, because for jumping you need to warm up, be in the right shoes, and in general this is a street, not a stage.

10. The subway is the best place to practice turning your toes. In addition, at the sight of your face during this activity, even pregnant grandmothers will give you a seat. nine0003

11. If you saw a colorful glittery dress at a competition and thought that you would never wear such bad taste in your life, just wait. In a year or two, you yourself will choose rhinestones for the same.

Dresses for Irish dances are always “very”: very bright, very shiny and very short

Ballroom dancing also has its own fashion, very peculiar)

12. Dancing competitions are practically the only place where adult aunts can wear crowns, tiaras and rhinestones, and also paint her face so that mom does not grieve. In the end, isn't this a reason to participate?))

13. Judges at competitions are very cunning and can reduce marks because of all sorts of garbage. For example, if you have slipped one sock. Cunning Irish dancers for the sake of medals even came up with glue for socks! Now you have seen everything)

Glue for socks is not fiction, but a harsh reality

14. No, not all. The wig and bun are also an important part of the costume. Do you want to dance on stage with a ponytail?

There are special wigs for Irish dancers with crazy curls

Ballroom dancers make bunches and fill them with a couple of bottles of varnish

15. You will know the taste of victory and defeat. Why not stand on a pedestal, if possible? True, only you will know how hard these places get.

At these moments you understand why you need all this

By the way, if one day you decide to participate in competitions, you will most likely have to forget about ordinary rest - your entire travel schedule will be subordinated to the competition schedule. That is why I have been going on vacation in April for the third year, and have not been to the warm sea for about the same amount! And all because in April my dance association - the World Irish Dance Association - holds a big event: World Championships, European Championships and Grade Feis (“Big Competitions”) - and all this cake with candles at once in 3-4 days somewhere in Europe.

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