Solo practice is essential for anyone to develop their dancing, and to be a better partner. Depending on your situation, solo practice may also be a practical necessity. Whatever the reason for doing it, these are 6 ways to get the most out of your solo practice.
When many of us think of practicing, we think of practicing with our partner. For many, that is not always very easy.
- Your partner might live a good distance away.
- You and you partner might have schedules that do not always work well together.
- You might be in a pro-am partnership, where the availability or cost of practicing with your pro limits the opportunities.
Even if you do not have any of these challenges, solo practice provides a different type of development opportunity than your couple practice, so it should never be ignored. Set one or more goals for the practice before you start: It is very easy to waste time or get bored and quit early when you do not have the interaction with your partner or a coach to keep you focused. If you have one or more specific goals, this will be less likely to happen. If you commit to achieving your goals by the end of your practice, you will absolutely not waste time or get bored.
Focused Foot Rounds
Review your choreography and the specific placement of your feet relative to the line of dance. Do this from different starting positions on the floor. Both leaders and followers often learn and remember choreography based on the cues from their partner. Understanding the routine without these cues will make it clearer in your mind, and will allow you to be more adaptable to any floorcraft variations that may be needed in a competition. This type of practice also provides an important opportunity to be very specific about your foot placements, and make corrections where needed.
Picture Perfect Lines and Body Positions
Go through your steps and transitions slowly, while watching yourself in the mirror. You can also videotape yourself using a smart phone. This will open your eyes very clearly to any needed adjustments to your posture or position. This need for adjustment may not be as evident to you when you are with a partner. Ballet and other solo dancers sometimes struggle with partnering when they first learn ballroom dancing, but they excel in understanding how to show clean lines and technically accurate positions. This is because for them, solo practice in front of a mirror is the main type of practice. Ballroom dancers also benefit from this approach to practicing.
Show “Show-Stopping” Balance
Solo practice is a great opportunity for you to work on your personal balance. A great exercise is to stop yourself at various points in your movement, to test your balance and control. Unless you are in mid-air, or at a point in your choreography where you would be leaning on your partner with most of your body weight, you should be able to stop and hold yourself in balance at any point. If you can’t, repeat the move until you find the positioning and body stability required to stop on a dime. Doing this repeatedly for the parts of your routine where your balance is weakest, will give you amazing muscle memory for balance in general. Your dancing will also look much cleaner because it will train you to be fully engaged and in control of your body at all times.
Perfect the Pain Points
Everyone has a few things that are a bit challenging to do well consistently. Your solo practice time is all about you, so you do not have to work on anything other than that which will help you the most. It is a great time to go over those one or two challenging steps and tricky points of technique until they feel like they are your personal points of strength. Try different approaches to the moves until you feel strong, accurate and comfortable. Go through them slowly at first, then aim for double speed as you improve. With both ends of the speed spectrum feeling solid in your solo practice, they will feel like a breeze when you do them at the right speed with your partner.
Dance Your Routines at the Right Speed, to the Music You Don’t Like
It is interesting how much we unconsciously depend on the momentum of a partner to manage timing. This is especially true for fast ballroom dances such as Viennese waltz and Quickstep. It is also interesting how much terrible music can impact your dancing. If you can connect to irritating music when you are alone, it will be easy to connect to good music when dancing with your partner.
Explore Dancing in a Creative and Unrestricted Way
This is an amazing and wonderfully beneficial thing to do with your partner. When you do it alone, you may feel even freer, and may get even more out of it. Forget steps, choreography or even the fact that you are a ballroom dancer and just move to the music. Undoubtedly, you will find expression inside you that will feel wonderful, and will ultimately help you to find your unique spirit, so you can show it in all of your dancing.