So I know that I a few years ago, I wrote a very passionate article about the roles of ballroom dance and how in this one aspect of your life, the man is in control with the woman following. Up until we moved to the new dance studio, this was the mantra that my wife and I had been operating under… and in social dancing, this may still be the way to look at it, but in competitive ballroom, all bets are off.
In competitive ballroom dance, the lead and follow transitions from partner to partner throughout the dance. This actually makes sense when you think about it because otherwise the “lead” would be back leading all the time and back leading blind in a number of cases.
The big thing to remember is that ballroom dancing is a partnership where one partner waits for one and another partner then drives through… and vise versa.
The first big challenge with migrating to this new frame of thought is getting your brain to think in these terms. For the longest time, I was taught that I did all of the leading and my partner was simply docile and waiting for my instructions. So allowing your brain to think in more of a “partnership” way is the first step. Then, with learning anything new with ballroom dance, it’s about then getting your body to do what you want it to do. For any of the moves where we’re in open position, this makes sense because there’s an obvious positive and negative connection that guides my path. When we’re in closed position (or in frame), it is more difficult because those signals aren’t quite as clear.
In the end, the main point is when you truly start to train as competitive ballroom dancers, you will dance bigger, different, and rethink everything you though you knew about the sport.
My goodness, where to begin ?!? So as you can see it’s been about 2 years since I’ve posted about ballroom dancing last and so much has changed. So as not to bury the lead, about a year ago, my wife and I decided to leave Arthur Murray. If you’ve read this blog from the beginning, you’ll know that this wasn’t a decision taken lightly. At the beginning, Arthur Murray was the exact right place for my initial dance growth. There were just a number of factors that came to play that I’ll discuss here.
Over the year since my last post, my wife and I started to really look into what I will refer to as “REAL” ballroom dance competitions. These are the ones put on by National Dance Council of America (NDCA) and USA Dance. That is not to say that the Arthur Murray Showcases are not real competitions (they are the closest you can get otherwise), but when people refer to winning Dance Competitions or to be a Dance Champion, they really are referring to these dance organizations and success in the respective circuits.
So, with a heavy heart, about a year ago, we decided to leave Arthur Murray for a more local dance studio and found a wonderful instructor that very recently had been competing with his wife in the NDCA circuit. We found this crucial because, in addition to take our dancing to the next level, he also has been guiding us through the dos and don’ts of true competitive ballroom.
In future posts, I will be going into more detail on what the instruction is like and how it’s vastly different than my experience up to now, but I will say that now I feel that we are truly training to be a competitive ballroom couple. There is no social aspect… no forced interaction. We are simply training with a coach who is kicking our ass into shape so that we can achieve our competitive goals.
So what’s on the horizon for us? I would love to get involved with the USA Dance circuit. It is the organization dedicated to amateur couples. We did, however, jump out of the gate with an NDCA comp about a year ago and we’ll be doing that one again this year.
Thing are definitely getting much more interesting …