Tips for Beginners

Tips for Beginning Dancers

  • The more often you dance, the faster you will learn. Ask about other dance classes in your area.
  • You cannot learn to dance sitting down. Stop watching from the sidelines and get in there and dance!
  • In the beginning, don’t worry about styling and grace. Nearly every dancer started out clumsy and three- footed. Concentrate on learning the steps first.
  • Relax. Smile. Contrary to what you may think, all eyes are not focused on you. Everyone on the floor is rooting for you because they have all been where you are.
  • Buy a pocket-sized notebook and keep a list of the dances you are learning. Identify each dance in some fashion: “fast, lots of turns,” or “slow and waltzy”.
  • Bring a portable recording device with you to class and record the music. Listen to the tape during the week. It doesn’t have to be high-fidelity: the idea is just to become familiar with the music.
  • During the request dancing, ask for dances you know and like, or ones you want to learn.
  • If you are not familiar with a dance that’s being done, don’t get in the line unless you have a ‘guide’ (a friend who knows the dance well). Otherwise, stand behind the line of dancers and follow the steps.
  • If the person next to you is not your guide, do not try to follow that person. Instead, watch a dancer four or five dancers down the line, to the left or right. Don’t try to copy anyone across the circle from you until you’ve gotten more practiced at it.
  • Use your head while you dance. As you learn a dance, try to identify the steps and say them to yourself (“grapevine… right Yemenite… turn left…”).
  • On the rare partner dances, it is best to dance with someone who is more familiar with the dance than you are. Next best would be to dance with someone who is equally familiar. Don’t sit out just because you don’t have a partner. Stand off to one side and copy your part. (Sometimes a friendly dancer will notice you and offer to be your partner.)
  • Be Patient. Fred Astaire wasn’t all that great his first week either!
  • Welcome to the folk dance family!

Gratefully reprinted with permission from the author: Loui Tucker