– Friedrich Nietzsche
Last night while talking to a student of mine at the Salsa Night at Slaughter County event, she said something to me to stuck out as peculiar at first but made sense very quickly afterward. In a nutshell she told me that her and her husband wanted to quit doing Ballroom group classes and just continue with the Salsa classes because she didn’t feel like the Ballroom classes weren’t sticking with her and that made her feel discouraged and frustrated while she felt like she was making actual progress with Salsa.
For those who aren’t aware, my Ballroom classes change every five weeks. For five weeks I focus on one dance and then change to a new dance. However with my Salsa classes, I stick to roughly the same formula for five weeks and then repeat it with new (and returning) students and this is exactly what I explained to her.
Focusing on one dance for one night a week for five weeks is not going to make you an expert in a dance. It’s barely enough to make you a beginner. I’m not saying that group classes are bad but if you go into a group class (especially one that works within a set time frame) expecting to walk out as an expert who never has to practice that dance again, you’re going in with the wrong attitude and mindset.
This isn’t a pitch for anyone to sign up for private lessons with anyone (including myself) though. This is a pitch to all students around the world to focus on the keyword of the previous paragraph: “practice”. It’s a cliche to say but practice really does make perfect. If you come across a dance in a group class setting that sparks excitement with you, go out and practice it as much as you can. Find Ballroom dance events in your area and dance that dance with as many different people as you can. THAT’S how you make real progress with your dancing.
I started this post with that quote from Nietzsche on purpose. Dancing is fun and is meant to be something to be enjoyed but as with any other skill in life, if you don’t go out and practice what you’ve learned it will slowly fade away until there is nothing left.
If I, as a dancer and an instructor, were to give anyone one piece of advice it would be this: I implore you to not let yourself feel frustrated for not becoming an expert in just a few weeks. Dance is something that you learn to do and love over a lifetime. I might plant the seed inside of you with my classes but it’s YOU who gives that seed light and love to help it grow into something beautiful and special.