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Common Beginner Mistakes Everyone Makes on the Ballroom Dance Floor

Everyone makes mistakes when they first start ballroom dancing. Or, when they start anything new for that matter. That’s why it’s called practice. But the benefits of ballroom dancing are so worth the hard work!

Newsflash: Everyone was a beginner ballroom at one time. Even the most accomplished, impressive, famous award-winning dancers all had a very first dance lesson and they all made (and make) mistakes. In fact, it’s so common that the pros readily share the common mistakes everyone makes during their first dance lesson. 

We’ll share some of them here and offer tips on what to do so you’ll have a leg up on others when you hit the dance floor.

1. Where do I look? NOT at your feet! Beginners often stare at their feet. When you aren’t sure where to look, it’s natural to look at your feet to avoid stepping on your partner’s feet or to avoid getting stepped on! You may also look at your feet because you are self-conscious. The key is to look up. As you look up, your overall posture and ease on the dance floor improves. Which leads us to another mistake which you’ll be able to avoid.

2. No slouching! When you slouch, your body becomes too loose. Standing tall, but not too tall so that you’re stiff, helps you find the right dance posture. It helps to look in the mirror as sometimes we are not even aware of our posture.

It is said that the frame is the most important part of ballroom dancing. That is the main way you and your partner learn to communicate on the floor. If you let your elbows lose tension, the lines of communication are broken and you can’t easily relay messages to each other.

3. Take small steps. Beginners tend to take wide or exaggerated steps. This actually makes dancing harder because it throws off your balance and you tend to move too slowly to the rhythm of a song. It also makes it hard for our partner to keep up with you or you can step on their toes. 

Try to keep your steps smaller until you feel comfortable with the tempo and your partner is able to match you step-by-step. Their legs and toes will thank you for it.

4. Count the beats. When you are so focused on the steps, beginning dancers lose the tempo. Counting the beats helps you stay with the tempo. You can count in your head or try counting out loud to help you and your partner stay on tempo.  

5. Where are your shoulders? Many of us carry tension, stress, or anxiety in our shoulders. When we dance, we tend to focus so much on footwork, frame, posture and looking up, we can get tense and stressed. That shows up in our shoulders. It’s common to tighten and raise shoulders up toward the ears, which creates a scrunched upper body. 

When you feel this happening, take a moment to breathe and relax, and roll your shoulders back and down. It’s like squeezing a tennis ball between your shoulder blades. This will open up your chest and creates a nice, long neck. You’ll immediately look more confident and poised which melts away that tension. 

When was the last time you had fun when you felt tense? It helps to loosen up and relax.

So now that you know some of the common mistakes and what to do instead, it’s time to contact one of our nine Boston Area Arthur Murray Dance Centers to schedule your first FREE lesson. We’ll help you address those beginner mistakes so they don’t become habits that can get in the way!

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