As a beginner bronze competitor with lofty goals of competing American 9 Dance, I couldn’t help but find it overwhelming that I had 9 different dances to practice outside of lessons. I needed to make sure I came up with a plan to get ready for the competition without spending an abundance of time on just the Waltz or Rumba and my Tango looking like a chicken pecking across the floor. I wanted to evenly progress in all American Smooth and Rhythm dances.
I read an article somewhere about how really great dancers practice dance in their every day life, i.e. posture and self awareness of the body, and I started to think about total immersion. They always say, in order to really become fluent in another language you have to be totally immersed. But, how could I become fluent in American 9 Dance?
I devised these simple tactics so when combined they can hopefully relieve some anxiety in developing as a dancer.
1. Spend 30 minutes/dance actually doing some kind of dancing or studying the curriculum.
2. The remainder of the day you spend thinking about that dance.
Example: On your commute to work, you can put on a few minutes of the Tango visualizing the curriculum or the amalgamations on the dance floor, listening to the subtle differences in music and how you might style your dance differently because of it.
The order is:
Sunday – Foxtrot
Monday – Waltz, V. Waltz
Tuesday – Tango
Wednesday – Bolero
Thursday – Rumba
Friday – Mambo, Chacha
Saturday – East Coast Swing
As you can see the Smooth dances have 3 consecutive days and the Rhythm dances have 4 consecutive days. Monday and Friday are the most vulnerable to forgetting about a dance or crossing technique when it should not so BE CAREFUL. Transition days from Smooth to Rhythm or vice versa are extremely important to understand where components of the previous day’s dance may influence the next dance.
Methods explained: Monday is both Waltz and V. Waltz because of the obvious similarities in timing (3/4) and technique. Tuesday is Tango simply for the alliteration. Wednesday is Bolero because of the mixture of Smooth and Rhythm needed to complete it properly. Thursday is Rumba because of the similarities in music with the Bolero. Friday is both the Mambo and Chacha, again due to the similarities in technique and music, but also because Friday nights are fun to go to Salsa and Ceviche in Cleveland or wherever you are. East Coast Swing is the most similar Rhythm dance to the Foxtrot in Smooth dancing making it perfect to end the week/Rhythm section and begin Smooth.
Note: Just because the dance of the day is Rumba does not mean you cannot practice other dances. It’s only a guide to make your priority the dance of the day before diving into the what feels like a million other “things” to practice. There is a clear a deliberate method to the order and flow of the dance of the day, but feel free to alter it as you may need (especially if you dance International Ballroom/Latin or prefer just Rhythm/Smooth)
In essence, I hope this methodology of practicing ballroom dance helps you progress in an even, consistent method and allows dance to be your release and not your anxiety, as it has for me.
Author: Colton R. Hutton
Photography: Egorich.ca DanceSport
Exclusively for Dance Comp Review