I do my main solo practice every Sunday morning, and some weekends, it takes a lot of convincing to get me and my dance shoes to the studio. I know why I should practice on my own and the awesome benefits I’ll gain from it. But there are still a few factors that make solo practice a real drag.
Thank you, Captain Obvious. Seriously though, we’re ballroom dancers. We dance with a partner! Dancing a soulful waltz or a sexy cha cha just isn’t as fun on your own. What is fun though is when you realize that because of your solo practice, you don’t need to hang onto your partner for balance or steal side glances at them because you have no idea what the next step in your routine is. You can actually enjoy the dancing!
No one said ballroom dancing was easy and practicing on your own is no exception. A routine I danced oh so beautifully with my partner is suddenly awkward and full of stops and stumbles when I attempt it on my own. Which way am I turning again? Is my partner to my right or my left in this part? If you’re a competitor, being able to dance your routines on your own gives you a huge advantage, but don’t be surprised if your invisible practice partner turns out to be a poor lead.
It’s TEDIOUS and BORING.
Technique drills, anyone? A lot of solo practice includes repetitive drills intended to cement a technique concept in your body so permanently that you engage your core in your sleep. Repetition is the mother of mastery, as one of my coaches says! I geek out on technique drills actually, but even I get bored. Until I feel the difference in my dancing and my connection with my partner….magic!
My solo practice gets especially lonely on the tough days. I don’t have anyone else there to encourage me to try one more time or help me figure out what the heck I’m doing in the video from my last lesson. That’s when I’ll take advantage of the worksheets in my Solo Practice Guide. (Currently 10% off for DCR readers) There are spaces for me to take notes and record questions for my teacher at our next lesson. So even if my partner isn’t physically with me in practice, he’s still a connected part of the process. I also get to feed my ego by playing the goody-two-shoes student at the next lesson. “Look, Teacher, I practiced just like you told me!”
It’s a TRICKY MIND GAME.
Since you’re the only one there, you have to be the one to motivate yourself and keep yourself accountable during your solo dance practice. After all, no one will really know if you did those drills in your living room like you said you did, or if you just thought about doing them while you binge watched a new show on Netflix. But you’ll know. You’ll also be the only one to know the moment you finally nail that double turn. Guess you can high five yourself? That leads me to the last sucky thing about solo practice…
The EFFECTS NEVER SEEM TO LAST until your next lesson.
There’s nothing like exclaiming to my teacher, “I finally did that step I could never get right at my practice this weekend!” and then failing miserably trying to reproduce my success. My teacher will smile and say, “ok, sure, let’s review that one more time.” “No, really, I did it! I swear!” I actually started propping my phone against a wall in the studio to record parts of my solo practice, just so I could show my teacher. Then of course, I’d learn all about the parts I was practicing wrong, which is a benefit, but also sucks at the same time.
Practicing on your own may not be the sparkliest part of ballroom dancing, but it is essential if you want to improve. If you could use some extra guidance on organizing your solo practice, check out the Solo Practice Guide for Ballroom Dancing, written by yours truly and designed to help you build an effective practice routine that maximizes the benefits and minimizes the suck.
A lot of blood sweat and tears went into the Solo Practice Guide. So, if you’re interested in checking it out, it can be found HERE.