Of course you can’t avoid all mistakes, but here are some tips to avoid making mistakes in dancing! There’s no magic formula…or is there? I’ll start with the basics, then give you some shortcuts.
1. Know your patterns – backwards and forwards! If you have trouble remembering without someone in front of you, you won’t be able to do it perfect when someone is in front of you.
Men: If you have to concentrate on the pattern, you won’t be able to lead it correctly, and if you can’t lead it, buddy you can’t dance it. You can’t expect the girl to be able to read your mind.
Ladies: The guy can’t drag you through every step (actually sometimes he can, but don’t expect another dance from him!) you’ve gotta know what you’re doing, too!
2. Have your timing right – Sure it’s important to “just feel” the music, but guess what? Everyone feels the music in their own way. Can you keep time to the music? If not, there’s NO WAY you can avoid making mistakes!
3. Have a clear understanding of your lead and follow for each specific move.
Men: Your lead is “built in” to the pattern. You have to get a handle on it. If you can’t lead it, you can’t dance it!
Ladies: You don’t have to recognize the exact pattern the man is executing, but you do need to be familiar with the directions that are being given to you through the lead. The reason patterns are important is because they contain the different directions and elements you need to know.
Look for the rock steps – This is a great way to tell if you’re off from your partner. If your dance has a rock step in it, you can always catch up on that. If you’re leading, you can often “force” a rock step to get back on time.
The “Reset” position – If you’re leading in a closed position, simply stop your feet and straighten up your frame. This just takes a millisecond.
Watch the body – If you’re following, look at where that man’s body is, and keep him slightly to your right. If he leads you through a step that you’re not familiar with, try to recognize where he wants you to be rather than trying to figure out what step he’s putting you through.
Be sensitive – I’m talking to the leaders here. Assuming that you’ve mastered the foot pattern, it’s important to pay attention to where the girl is. Where she is placed is our responsibility.
Don’t stop, get it, get it
Like I said at the beginning of this article, there’s no way to avoid all mistakes in dancing. Even for experts!
Being able to recover from mistakes seamlessly is part of the art! Think of writing. You’ve done it most of your life, but when you make a mistake you don’t stop, cross out the whole sentence, and then start again, you just turn the “e” into an “a” or the “1” into a “2” and just keep going with the rest of whatever you were writing. Same in dance! You don’t stop the whole dance when you make a mistake, otherwise you get into that habit of stopping, and then everyone know you made a mistake. When you get in the habit of recovering, you’ll get better and better at it. Soon you’ll be at the point where you barely acknowledge any mistake was made at all, and anyone watching won’t suspect a thing. Heck, some of your lucky mistakes will lead to the creation of a whole new move! Just remember to share the credit with me!
-Eddie Laski, Mgr.
The Dance Shack