What are the Determinants of a "Good" Dancer?

Well, what are the determinants of a good dancer?

This is a question which I have considered from time to time, and it has been on my mind a fair bit ever since “The Dance”, last Saturday night.

I had a telephone call from a lady during the day on Saturday asking about our dance that night. She was asking questions about the people who went, their ages, their dancing ability, and so on.

She did come along to the dance, and she introduced herself to me as the lady I had spoken with on the phone during the day. I think the next thing she said was something along the lines of, “I am as nervous as all hell”. A few of our regular ladies came in shortly after, and after making introductions, the “nervous” lady was invited to join the group.

I remained busy at the front desk for a while, and it was probably an hour or so later, I went up to check on how the “new” lady was getting on. After once more exchanging greetings, she said to me, “You told me on the phone that this isn’t a club”.

“It’s not a club”, I replied, “we organise the venue and the musicians, advertise the dance, and people come along”.

“But look, they are all good dancers”, she replied.

At the time I think “Nearly Famous” our musicians were playing and singing the Kaye Star song, “Rock ’n Roll Waltz”, and there was quite a large group of dancers out on the floor, dancing the fairly simple sequence dance that is often danced to that tune.

So, to this lady who obviously was not a regular dance attendee, people who know the basic steps to a fairly simple sequence dance, are good dancers.

What is “good dancing” seems to be a very relative and subjective criteron.

A “good” dancer for someone who cannot dance, is probably seeing someone who knows the basic steps of a dance. Someone who knows the basic steps would perhaps consider someone else who knew some advanced moves or showed a bit more styling to be a “good” dancer. And, someone in this latter category, who perhaps knew many advanced moves in say the Cha Cha Cha, or the Rhumba, would think that they were fairly ordinary if they compared themselves to an accomplished Latin Dancer with the correct Cuban Body Movement and all the other styling that is a part of those particular dances.

I had a few dances with this “new” lady during the evening. I said to her during the first dance, “you have danced before”.

“Yes”, she said, “but many, many years ago”.

This lady was a good follower, and I told her so. With just a few lessons and a bit of practice, she would very quickly fit into the category of what she thought was a "good " dancer.

Dancing is great fun. Just about everyone who can dance knows that. The corollary of course is that those who don’t know how to dance, don’t know the fun that they are missing out on. And there are many other pros associated with dancing, apart from the fun aspect. An important one of course is health …, and not just physical health, but also social, mental, emotional and even perhaps for some spiritual aspects of health.

So, how do we get to enjoy this dance experience?

One way is to just go along to dances and join in. Any regular rhythmical movement of the body to music we could consider to be dance. So, you could just get out there on the floor and start moving. Some dances however do have set steps and/or sequences. And, some dancers have learned these by just going along to dances and following others. This can work, but for many it will be a long slow and even tedious and frustrating process.

Another alternative in learning to enjoy this dance experience is to take dance lessons.

Deciding to do this will create another dilemma for many. Private lessons can be expensive. Some studios expect you to take out contracts with them. Just how do you decide what is best?

There are many styles of dance. Some studios may specialise in just Latin, others may specialise in Ballroom or New Vogue, and yet others may basically concentrate on Rock ’n Roll.

Just in this Rock ’n Roll genre, some schools will teach Rockabilly, or Two-Step, others may teach Four-Step Rock ’n Roll, and there are other schools which may teach another style called Six-Step Rock ’n Roll. And of course we also have Lindy Hop, Ceroc, Le Jive, Modern Jive and Ballroom Jive.

It can all be very confusing for dancers, let alone for those who cannot dance.

Aussie Dances started last year, because I believed there was a niche in the dancing market which was not being met. No one in my part of the world was running regular dances with live musicians, like we had many years ago when I was a much younger pup. Sure, there are pubs and clubs with live musicians, but they generally don’t play the mix of Ballroom, Latin, Rock ‘n Roll, and Sequence and Progressive Dances, that many dancers enjoy.
We have just enjoyed some great nights of dancing with top bands at the 2008 Wintersun program on Queensland’s Gold Coast. I already have the Coolangatta Senior Citizens Centre booked for the June long weekend next year. And the top band from the Gold Coast Route 66 will be playing for us on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights of the June 2009 long weekend.
In the meantime Aussie Dances has regular Friday and Saturday night dances in Brisbane with live musicians. Come and join in the dancing fun.

What are the Determinants of a "Good" Dancer?

Ian McKenzie

Jimboomba, Australia

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