Dance Musings

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Where to Dance?

by Jersey Dance Team on 05/27/12

Where to dance?

Learning to dance is a wonderful experience and there are a ton of benefits. (see my previous blog).

One thing that people find fun to do with their dancing is attending social dances. These are parties held (often on the weekend) where people come and dance with their partners or each other. Most people who attend are more than happy to dance with someone they just met. The events give you a chance to meet people, practice what you have learned in lessons and have FUN using what you have been learning. It’s a great alternative to going and seeing a movie and is a lot more exciting (and it’s exercise)! There are many more parties around than you might realize.

Another popular thing to do is showcases. (Editor’s Note.. Think Dancing with the Stars with a few less people watching!) Many students work with their teachers to make a choreographed routine to the music of their choice. These routines are prepared for a special event where multiple students perform. The routines can go in any artistic direction the student chooses, or if they are unsure of what to do, their teacher can give them advice. The events are always fun and it is great to have a goal to work towards and a chance to create something special!

Some students choose to compete with their new skills. There are two types of competition-two amateurs dancing together and also one amateur and one professional dancing together.

Two amateurs (or am-am competing) is divided by level and age category and events are held all over the country almost every weekend. Am-am competitors usually have a regular partner and routines they develop with their teachers. This is fun because the partners spend time together practicing what they have learned and can become better dancers together. Your teacher (or coach once you start competing) will help you decide which competitions are appropriate, what to wear to the competitions and other details of preparation.

A professional competing with an amateur is called pro-am competition. Again, like am-am, competitions are held often and are divided by age category and level. The difference is, in pro-am you would be competing with a professional and only the amateurs would be judged against each other. Many people opt for this because they do not have to find an amateur partner and also it is comforting to have someone experienced on the dance floor with you who can make you look your best and guide you through the experience. Your professional will most likely have several students they bring to select competitions. The experience is amazing. The events are usually held at hotels and make a great day out. During the events, there are dancers of all ages and experience levels. I find even watching other people dance can be very inspiring and educational.
No matter what you do with your dancing always be sure of one thing. The process of learning to dance should be the most enjoyable part. The outlets above provide great opportunities to show what you can do and the goals they create will help you progress faster, but it’s about the journey, not the destination!

Note that Jersey Dance instuctors can help you reach any of your goals above. Talk to us about what you want and we will show you the best path for getting there.

-- Jen

American Vs International Style

by Jersey Dance Team on 03/03/12

One of the questions I get asked most frequently is what is the difference between International and American style dancing. The next question is almost always “Which one is better?"

First, there are two "styles" of ballroom dance. International standard and American smooth. International standard includes waltz, tango, viennese waltz, foxtrot and quickstep. American smooth contains all of those with the exception of quickstep. International standard only includes steps in closed hold while American smooth includes closed hold as well as steps where the frame opens. Viennese waltz is faster in international style and waltz and foxtrot are traditionally slower. There are other nuances that make these styles different, but at first glance, these are the main differences.

In the Latin American style of dancing there is International Latin and American Rhythm. International Latin includes cha cha, rumba, paso doble, samba and jive. American rhythm includes cha cha, rumba, bolero, swing and mambo. Traditionally International latin involves a “latin motion” associated with movement arriving on a straight leg while American rhythm is associated with “cuban motion” where the dancer arrives on a bent leg and later straightens. As both of these styles of dancing have developed over time, we have begun to see examples of cuban motion in latin and latin motion in rhythm. 

As to the question “Is American or International style better?” I have to answer: neither. Both styles are different and serve different purposes.  For example, American tends to be used more in social dancing and international style in competition.  Many people pick one style and say that the other styles is “bad” or “low level” or “for snobs.” Everyone is different and likes different things. My advice is to not worry about which style is better and try them both. You may like one better than another or maybe you will love the nuances of each. Which ever style or whatever dances you like is a personal decision based on personal taste.  It's completely up to you!
Jersey Dance, we have tons of experience teaching both International and American styles.  Ask your instructors for demonstrations of either.At


Why Ballroom Dancing?

by Jersey Dance Team on 10/16/11

Why Ballroom Dancing?

Ballroom dancing has become very popular.  TV shows have brought a ton of positive attention.  Many people, however, are not aware of the many benefits of dancing and people shy away from dancing because they feel that they will not be "good enough" and might embarrass themselves.

As a teacher, I have had the honor of introducing many people to dancing and they all have two things in common. One is that they had the desire to dance for a long period of time (usually a few years) but were too scared to come in and take a lesson. The second is that after a few lessons, they wish they had come to learn to dance much earlier. You have nothing to lose by taking a dance lesson and everything to gain.

First, there is a physical benefit. Dancing is great exercise and is much more fun than going to the gym. A night of dancing is a lot healthier and a lot more fun than going to see a movie, and many trainers say that the best type of exercise is any activity you will consistently stick to. Not to mention, holding correct posture (one of the skills you will learn from dancing) makes you look 10 pounds thinner!

Dancing also trains balance as well as posture. These two seemingly simple concepts have a great deal of benefits. Having correct posture promotes spinal health. Also, when you stand straight, your organs are not cramped and have the proper room to work. You will have a good deal more energy without changing anything else. Balance improves agility and you will develop core strength while learning to improve your balance.

Dancing is a great social activity as well. At social dances, you will meet other students who already have one thing in common with you - an interest in dancing. I know many people who met at dance events and became good friends and sometimes even more!  If you are looking to spend time together with a special someone as a couple, dance lessons are great for that as well. You will not only spend time together, but you are learning a new skill and are creating something together. About 50% of the lessons I teach are to married couples.

Finally, there is the benefit that you will learn to dance. Dancing is an amazing activity. It allows people to learn how to use their bodies in new ways without being intimidated. Learning to dance makes you more graceful and will help build a sense of confidence.

With all these great benefits to dancing, there is no reason for you to wait any longer to take your first lesson!  Our lives are incredibly busy and we often put off those things we can do for ourselves until “later”.  Dancing allows us to start taking care of ourselves.
-- Jen


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