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Articles of Interest » Dance Tips » Importance of Changing Partners

Importance of Changing Partners

Mark Traynor

Dance With Everybody! The importance of dancing with beginners
Mark Traynor, Dance Instructor and founder of the Floorplay Dance Club

Perhaps, you think that dancing with an experienced partner makes you "look" good. You can concentrate on styling details because the lead/follow does not demand so much attention. But, it is not the best way to develop lead and follow skills! If you dance with great dancers only, your lead and follow skills gradually deteriorate, because you are not 'exercising' them. If you dance with beginning dancers, perhaps your lead and follow skills are tested and your weaknesses stand out. Each time you analyze why a figure doesn't work with a beginner, you improve your lead and follow and become a better dancer.

Are you someone who wants to dance with higher-level dancers because you believe those partners are the only ones who can match your skill level? Maybe those "Gold level" dancers are actually working hard to compensate for your mistakes and idiosyncrasies. If none but the best can follow/lead you, then your dancing needs some work. You may be overestimating your ability and not studying proper lead or follow technique. Consequently, it will take you longer to reach the next skill level.

If you dance with the same person, all of the mistakes and bad habits each of you has will soon become automatic, and comfortable, but you won't be able to lead/follow others. So for your own good, and for the good of the art and sport of dancing, dance with Everybody!

Courtesy Rules for Gentlemen:
1) Never,never attempt to out-dance your partner! If you are dancing for the first time with a new lady and unsure of her knowledge or ability, start slow with relatively simple and easy movements.

2) If you see a lady you do not know, but would like to dance with, make certain she is either alone or with her friends. If she is sitting with a gentleman, the accepted courtesy is to inquire of her male friend, "Do you mind if I dance with your lady?"

3) Always politely ask a new lady if she would like to dance with you. Do Not walk up and stick your hand out as though you expect her to jump up and follow you to the floor.

4) Always walk the lady back to her table or seat and thank her for the dance.

5) If you've found a lady you wish to do more than one dance with consecutively, at least have the courtesy to ask her (during a break in the music) if she would like to continue.

6) It's almost no longer necessary for the gentleman to ask the lady to dance. Once you've become a better dancer, you will often have ladies come up and ask you to dance. If asked, you should never refuse a lady unless you're absolutely"bushed" or have to go to the restroom. Dance with her before you go onto the floor with another lady. The good male dancer dances with all the ladies - regardless of her looks, size, age, or ability level.

7) In a mixer, Never pull a favorite or sought after lady from the line. The idea of a mixer is to dance with whoever is at the front of the line so no one's feelings are hurt and everyone has the opportunity to dance with as many different partners as possible.

and now for the Ladies....
While traditional etiquette stipulates that the man asks the woman for a dance, it is becoming increasingly common for women to ask men. People who ballroom dance are there to do one thing: to dance. In other words, you don't need to feel pressured into doing anything more than dancing.

1) Tired of those silly one-liners? Well, in ballroom dancing there is only one-line, and it never gets old: "May I have this dance?" And ladies, you can ask the men to dance with this same one-line, pretty simple, isn't it?

2) When you get more than two people out on the dance floor, collisions can become a problem. So here's another rule of etiquette. Ladies, if you see an oncoming couple about to collide into you and your partner, simply tap your partner gently on the shoulder. This is known as the 'international dance panic signal.' Remain calm! Do not grab for your life, if you do, you will probably end up startling your partner and collide into the oncoming dance team.

3) The last and most important point of etiquette is this: No matter what happens, have fun! Ballroom dancing is meant to be enjoyed - like a fine wine or an afternoon walk in the park. Mingle. Get to know other dancers. Watch the way they move and improve upon your own dancing. Most of all, enjoy yourself.