As a ballroom dance instructor, I have found that the most difficult thing for people to learn is to unlearn a bad habit. Changing the way we always do certain things takes time and effort. Whether you are a seasoned ballroom dancer or just started dance lessons in Herndon, we all have some bad habits that we are trying to break. Below are the five most common mistakes or bad habits that students make:
- Looking Down – Many beginning ballroom dancers tend to look down at their feet, unsure of where they should move, and afraid to step on their partner. This can be a difficult habit to break. Looking down affects your posture, causing shoulders to hunch forward and weakens the dance frame. The goal of social dancing is to use your body to communicate everything to your partner. Try to feel where your partner is moving in order to determine where to place your foot, rather than allowing your gaze to fall to the floor. A good way to practice looking up is picking a focal point that is high up in the room, such as a clock, a window, or your partner’s smile.
- Weak Elbows – The dance frame is the most important part of ballroom dancing. The frame is the main way leader and follower are able to communicate on the floor. Both partners need to maintain strength in their arms and backs. If dancers let their elbows lose tension, the lines of communication are broken and partners are unable to relay messages. A good exercise for this is to stand facing a wall. Lift your arms in front of you, place palms on the wall and lean forward slightly, shifting your weight toward the wall (almost as though you were doing a push up).
- Raised Shoulders – A lot of us carry our tension, stress, or anxiety in our shoulders. While we dance, sometimes we start focusing so much on footwork, frame, looking up, etc, that the stress of it begins to show in our shoulders. It is very common for shoulders to tighten and raise up, creating a scrunched upper body. If this happens, take a moment to breathe and relax, rolling the shoulders back and down.
- Big Steps – This is a hard habit to break, especially if you have long legs! Often, beginning dancers take very wide steps. This makes dancing difficult because it can throw you off balance and cause you to move too slowly with the rhythm of a song. Plus, if you step too far it can be hard for your partner to keep up, or you may step on their toes.
- Getting Frustrated – Sometimes during a dance lesson, it is easy to get caught up in perfecting each step. However, some steps are complicated and troublesome to learn. When you encounter this, it is natural to feel frustrated. Many dancers hit a wall when they are unable to improve a step or don’t catch on quickly.
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