Can you learn ballroom dance on your own? Are ballroom dance instructional or training tapes, video cd's and dvd's effective for learning ballroom dance?
These are some of the most common questions that bewilder a beginning ballroom dancer, especially for the guys.
The ladies almost have it easy because it is usually the guy who leads. As the leader, it's him who decides the dance patterns and executes them.
I say "almost" because the ladies do need to know the basic steps and patterns. Not all guys can lead well, and in that situation, a lady's skill in backleading can help too.
How I Started to Learn Ballroom Dance
I've always admired guys who could ballroom dance. It's one of those skills that not many guys have. I think adept dancers are a standout in a social crowd and makes them extraordinary in that sense.
When my old office offered ballroom dance lessons as a recreational activity, I wanted to enlist but was hesitant. Why? I had the feeling that only the ladies in the office would be interested to join the dance lessons.
Well, I was half right.
There were 30 ladies and 3 guys (including me), who showed up. One guy secretly sneaked in at the back of the dance class. The other guy, known for a "toughie" image, was at the center, but was wearing sunglasses!
Goodness. I was sincerely interested in learning ballroom dancing, and so stayed in front. I attended all the lessons especially after learning how healthy and enjoyable it can be.
Joining a Ballroom Dance Class for Lessons
The company took two ballroom dance instructors for the lessons. The first was a Jimmy who was very good in Chacha, Waltz and Rhumba.
He was 60 years old when he was teaching, but looked decades younger. I actually mistook him to be in his early 40's.
He particularly took delight in asking his students to guess how old he was. For his youthful looks and physique, he attributes to ballroom dancing.
In Jimmy's class, I was paired with many of the ladies, which I didn't mind, initially. I was a beginner like all the rest. But soon, I was picking up speed because I was always asked to partner. That always happens when there are only few guys.
The advantage for me is I always got Jimmy's attention. I was interested in breaking down the basic step into its component parts and asked him to explain them.
He'd be there correcting mistakes in the basic steps as he saw them. The downside is that I got tired very quickly with so many ladies to partner.
Another disadvantage is that my skills got stale when newer girls started joining the succeeding dance lessons. I ended up "teaching" the new girls what I've learned.
Although I gained mastery of the basic steps by teaching them, I did not learn newer patterns or moves.
One-on-one Lessons from a Dance Teacher
The second dance instructor was a lady named Mutya. She became the ballroom dance teacher when our office transferred location. Her forte was Chacha, Samba, Reggae and Hustle, which, locally, we call Swing.
She eventually did some choreography for one of the department's hosting for an event.
When she was hired, the ballroom dance class had dwindled to just a few pairs. By that time, I already had a regular partner, Rhoni, who had a passion for dancing the Swing.
Under Mutya's tutelage, my partner and I usually had undivided attention as far as lessons were concerned.
Every week, Mutya taught me a new Swing dance pattern which I was just eager to learn. Of course I took every opportunity to master the pattern by asking her to partner up first with Rhoni.
I would observe her execute the steps with Rhoni and even ask her to do it slow-motion. Then I'd do the step with Rhoni, and Mutya would correct my mistakes.
This is me and my partner Rhoni, performing a more advanced Swing pattern in a company event.
Other Methods to Learn Ballroom Dance
There are other ways to hone your skills as a ballroom dancer. There are instructional media (tapes, VCD's and DVD's) that are now available for your reference to learn new patterns and steps. There were only a few when I started to learn to dance and were too expensive for my budget.
My own assessment, however, is still to get some dance lessons from a ballroom dance instructor. Sure, it's always good to learn new patterns and dance moves from instructional media.
But a dance instructor will be able to SEE AND CORRECT MISTAKES and that's how invaluable they can be.