9.6 On Teaching On The Dance Floor

"*Do not teach on the dance floor." Men, it a breach of social dancing etiquette to presume that just because you lead, you know more. Ladies - do not presume to critique a guy's lead/style/interpretation of the music or judgment. This is social dancing, not practice. If and only if, the lady (or gentleman) requests it, an area off the floor may be used to talk the lady through the step. If you can't talk her through it, you don't understand it well enough to teach it!

"*If you are the type that is open to criticism, ask other dancers to help you with your dancing. Perhaps they see or feel something that you do not. It is okay to talk during a dance and you might learn something valuable at the same time other than where the person is from." There are some people who have no plans of ever taking lessons. These people depend on sensitively made suggestions, informal intermission time lessons, and experience to become better dancers.

Dance is a marvelous from of social interaction. It can make you many friends - or it can isolate you from the very people you would like to know. Here are some rules of the dance floor:

Dancing is a social activity and therefore etiquette overrides EVERY OTHER consideration. Classes and practice sessions are one thing, dancing in public is another. We all know people who practice comp routines in public or do a samba lesson right on the dance floor while the band is playing a waltz. This is rude and offensive to other dancers in the venue. More topical is the question of being rude to our partners. I know some people who can't STOP teaching. I don't know why they do it but it is annoying to many followers (Or what about the followers who can't stop back-leading or offering suggestions?) Remember that there are many people out there who are not obsessed about dance. They just like to spend a few hours every now and then moving to music, having fun. They don't care about correct steps or proper technique or line of dance or whatever. You must first consider who you are dancing with, what their abilities and preferences are.

No matter how well or how badly I dance, my mission out on the dance floor with a lady who has consented to dance with me is to provide her with enjoyment from our brief dance encounter. That objective should be mutual. If you have any other mission out on the dance floor in a social dance situation, review your motives. You are not out there to prove how wonderful you are, how marvelous you look or how much better you are than your partner. In a social dance situation you are dancing with and for your partner. There is a time and place for learning and it is not in the middle of a social dance floor during a social dance, even if it is requested! Refrain from doing it. Consider it as being rude. Very rude. If your new partner's dancing is not suitable to you it is necessary that you prevail through to the end of the dance and say, "Thank you!" It is not your obligation to give her (him) a critique of their dancing ability from the dance you just experienced, no matter how bad you might feel it was.

Competitions training, seminars, mutual help sessions where everyone is there for the sole purpose of learning or improving are quite another case. It is understood that in those identifiable learning situations you are invited to offer gentle and constructive criticism to your partner. If you are not capable of this sort of tender, gentle & constructive criticism, let others who are better equipped handle it.

Remember that dancing should be fun. Don't sweat it if you "Flub and mess up a pattern." Do what you can, and enjoy what you do. Agree with your partner, in advance, that you'll put fun first. Don't make an issue of each other's errors; those made at the ballroom are cues for what to practice later.

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This file is part of the lead/follow FAQ list. These are articles compiled from the newsgroup rec.arts.dance by Mark Balzer. Html-isation by Victor Eijkhout, victor at eijkhout dot net. See also the Rec Arts Dance FAQ list Copyright 1996/7/8/9 lies with the compiler, the maintainer and the contributors of various parts.

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