The mark of an advanced dancer is the ability to dance with anyone, no matter what that person’s skill level may be, and make the experience an enjoyable one for all.
Many people have noticed that when you first learn to dance, your focus tends to be on yourself. As you gain experience, you begin to pay more attention to your partner and to the other couple in your minor set. Eventually you notice the broader patterns of the dance and the position of other people in your line, including your neighbors and your shadow. You might start to anticipate certain end effects. Then one day you experience that magical moment when you can see how the entire room of dancers is moving in synchronicity with the music and the calls (and in synchronicity with all the dancers who have come before, who are part of this amazing tradition).
Preserving the Tradition
Experienced dancers play a vital role in preserving traditional dance here in the heart of Missouri and elsewhere.
Being an experienced dancer doesn’t mean you always do extra twirls and spins. Although you may know where you need to be next and which way to be facing, beginners don’t. Let them get the basics before trying to add flourishes. Beginners look to you for an example.
The best way to learn how to dance well with beginners is to practice. Try to dance with at least one beginner at each dance. Be willing to answer questions about the routine or any aspect of the dance. If the new person has obvious difficulty with something in particular, simply ask, “Do you mind if I show you?”
Above all, help the beginners have fun. That’s what we’re here for. Encourage and acknowledge the real efforts they are making. Communicate acceptance and affirmation as much as possible. If every experienced dancer incorporates some of these skills into our dancing, we will help make each newcomer’s first contradance experience much more enjoyable.
Check our schedule for the date and time of the next dance. Word of mouth is our best advertisement, so please invite your friends and family along. Happy dancing!
Things to Think About When Dancing With Beginners
- Make eye contact.
- Show the other people you enjoy dancing with them.
- Make your leads part of the dance (e.g., use a sweeping motion of your arm and perhaps a small bow to indicate that a person should precede you in a given direction).
- Lead your partner gently by the hand.
- Hold your hand out clearly for the other person to take (e.g., on allemandes and right and left across).
- Tap your shoulder (the one to pass by) on heys.
- Swing gently. Many beginners are affected by dizziness at first.
- Men, gently place the woman’s hand where it needs to be for stars and chains.
- Women, help your partners end swings facing the correct direction.
- Women, put your right hand behind your back to help partners complete the courtesy turn.
- Don’t push, pull, point, or shout.
- Don’t force any issue.
- Don’t try to teach moves during the walk-through. Let the newcomers listen to the caller.
- Don’t make faces or get upset when people make mistakes. (Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. Even you.)