Maximise Your Learning
10 ways to maximise your learning in Salsa, Bachata & Kizomba Dance Classes
1) Have an open mind
Maintaining an open mind is crucial. Often, we enter a class assuming we possess a solid understanding of the material, with the exception of one small aspect, such as a new step, syncopation, body movement, timing, and so on. In these instances, we have a tendency to filter out information that doesn't align with our preconceived notions. It's worth noting that several instructors use patterns to convey a skill, with the primary objective of the class being to learn that skill, rather than the pattern itself.
2) Be in the right level
Dancers at any level have the potential to learn something new in a beginner's class taught by another instructor. It's crucial to acknowledge that simply comprehending the skill being taught doesn't mean that they know everything about it or are unable to refine the technique or learn a new approach for distinct dance scenarios. Additionally, different schools may use different numbering systems (e.g., School A's level 4 might be equivalent to School B's level 2). When in doubt, it's recommended that they attend a more elementary class. The main takeaway here is that advanced classes offer quantity, while beginner classes provide quality.
3) Be on time
Being present in class from the beginning results in a superior comprehension of the subject matter compared to joining in the middle of an explanation. Furthermore, it's unfair to both the teacher and other learners to have to reiterate information for latecomers
4) Practice what's being taught
During the practice phase in class, the teacher pays close attention to the students to determine if the majority are grasping the material or if another aspect of the topic needs to be introduced. Despite learners feeling confident in their understanding of the material, the teacher may still notice areas that require improvement that they have overlooked (refer to #1). It's also essential to dance what is being taught to ensure fairness to both followers and leaders and enable both to learn and practice effectively.
5) Encourage your partner
Sometimes, beginner dancers may inform us that intermediate dancers seem to get irritated with beginners. While practicing dancing, be mindful of the emotions you might be projecting, as beginners may take it personally. If you feel frustrated with your dancing, beginners may wrongly think that you are frustrated with them. Having plenty of dance partners can be enjoyable, particularly during parties. The more comfortable individuals feel, the more frequently they will attend, and everyone has a good time. The fundamental lesson here is to always remember your roots.
6) Come to class often
To create good habits you need to do it regularly and repeating the same class has massive benefits. In dance schools, teachers typically follow a progressive class series, also known as a beginner course, unlike casual or nightclub classes. As students are expected to attend regularly, teachers can plan their lessons with the knowledge that they have subsequent classes to develop and refine what they teach in the current class. By offering courses, students can gain a better understanding of fundamentals and of all the necessary knowledge required to progress to higher levels. This is related to point #7.
7) Take private Lessons.
Although group classes are ideal for learning patterns, private lessons play a significant role in improving and refining one's dance skills. Certain aspects of dancing cannot be fully taught in group classes, and that is why private lessons are essential to gain a better understanding of the technique. In private sessions, instructors can guide you in ways that help you to physically 'feel' the dance movements, which can enhance your overall performance. This relates to point #8.
8) Get as much practice as possible.
Learning to dance is akin to learning to play an instrument, it requires a significant amount of practice. Developing relationships with your classmates is crucial (as highlighted in point #5), as they can serve as practice partners, maximizing your class time. Arriving early, staying late, attending social events and clubs, all provide ample opportunities to practice. While the recommendation of practicing five hours between each class may not be realistic for everyone, the more practice you can get, the better. The adage "practice makes perfect" is not entirely accurate, as improvement is a continual process. However, with the right information, you can always improve, making the process exciting and never-ending adventure.
9) Have proper tools.
When it comes to shoes for dancing, it's not a requirement to have dance shoes, but having them can eliminate one possible obstacle in your learning. A well-maintained pair of dance shoes can last a long time and can be seen as an investment in your dancing. It's similar to putting good tires on your car. If you're serious about improving your dancing, it's worth considering investing in proper dance shoes. If you opt for regular shoes, ensure that they have thin and flexible soles, and ladies should choose shoes that fit securely on their feet without flapping around. Clothing should be comfortable and breathable. Avoid wearing tennis shoes, character shoes or tap shoes.
10) Have fun.
It's important to keep in mind that dancing is a social activity (refer to #5 and #8). Recall why you decided to join your first dance class - most likely to have a good time, either during the class or while dancing outside of it. Additionally, making mistakes is part of the learning process, and if you can approach them with humor, you'll learn much quicker than if you stress over them. Embrace the learning journey and enjoy it.