Sharing The Joy Of Dancing

DANCE BY FEELING NOT BY MENTAL THOUGHT


At the higher levels of Ballroom Dancing, the dancer is composed of only a body. The body (in this instance) is everything except the head. The point is to dance from the feeling of the music, the physicality of the partnership, the physics of the movement, etc., instead of from the mental thought of how to dance a pattern. If you dance from the mentality aspect (your head), your dancing will always have a mechanical look and feel.

Generally speaking, most individuals start learning to Ballroom Dance through "Group Classes". "Group Classes" are primarily designed to teach the student the basic patterns (mechanics) of a particular dance. The lady learns her part of the pattern and the man learns his part of the pattern. Many "Group Classes" stop right there. Some classes, however, teach a little about "partnership" and "lead and follow". Most often, technical things like "characteristics of the dance", "footwork", "offsets", "connection", etc., etc. are not taught. To be fair, these are difficult to teach in a Group Class environment.

The beginning student dancer in a "Group Class" is presented with sequences of physical movements (patterns). His or her reaction is to memorize these sequences. In the beginning, this is a little mind numbing, but as time goes on it continues to get easier. The dancer often understands the physical movement but has difficulty physically doing it. This too becomes easier over time. The leader decides the flow of the pattern and the sequences of patterns. The follower dances the sequences that she has memorized. The point here is that all of this is primarily a mental exercise.

As the dancer progresses through beginner, intermediate and advanced "Group Classes", the patterns become more and more elaborate and the sequences for the patterns become longer. The ability to learn more patterns becomes easier but the number of patterns and the ability to remember them starts to become a problem. It is not only remembering the patterns, but it is also the sequence that they must be danced. Here again, this becomes quite a mental exercise.

Many dancers never progress beyond this level of dancing. When this happens, the dancer is stuck with a mental concept of Ballroom Dancing. I call these dancers "Pattern Dancers". They know a lot of patterns but sooner or later all the patterns start to feel the same. Some dancers, however, progress to "Private Lessons" and learn the technical aspects such as "Footwork" "Center", "Power", etc., etc., and "Singularity" (this is what happens beyond partnership). Private Lessons provide the opportunity for the student to be able to understand the mechanics of a pattern or element but even more important, how it actually feels (not how to think about it).

The dancer has fundamentally two centers; an "intellectual" center and a "physical" center. The "intellectual" center (the thinking center is in the head) has (for the lack of a better term) sort of a WIFI connection to the physical body. It creates more of an awareness of the physical body instead of actually experiencing and feeling the physicality of the body. The "physical" center is the center of gravity of the body (the physical core of the body).

The goal is to feel and experience dancing instead of thinking about how to dance patterns. I'm sure you have had the experience of driving somewhere and when you arrive, you don't remember how you got there. The mind was aware of you driving but you don't remember the physicality of it. This happens in Ballroom Dancing too. The mind is working so hard thinking of what to do that you don't experience the physically of the dancing.

In Ballroom Dancing, we want to do exactly the opposite. We want to turn off the WIFI and experience and feel the physicality of the dancing. Ballroom Dancing is a physical experience not a mental exercise. Just to be clear, physical experience has two options: "physical pain" or "physical pleasure". Our best option is "physical pleasure" for Ballroom Dancing.

Now that we know what we want to do (physically experience and feel dancing), how do we actually do it? Simply speaking, it is a matter of "repetition". Take two or three patterns in a specific dance and dance them over and over again until they are completely automatic. Now start dancing them by feeling your weight changes, your partners' weight changes, the connection through the frame, the power of movement, the momentum of the partnership, etc. etc. Now add the music. Feel the music instead of just hearing the music. Allow the music to be part of the physical feeling. All of the above will create a "feeling" for this specific dance. As you add more patterns, make these new patterns a feeling, instead of a mechanical sequence.

It is normal to progress through: one step at a time, to elements, to patterns, and finally to the feeling of a "Partnership" and then on through to the ultimate goal of being a "Singularity" (which is way beyond being a "Partnership"). The stage of "Partnership" is generally where the dancer normally starts to incorporate "feeling" into their Ballroom Dancing.