Watching people dance can be both inspiring and intimidating. Their graceful movements and the fluid transitions between steps can make you want to dance while making you feel extremely self-conscious. Something you should know is that there are very, very few people who look this good when they first learn how to dance! Taking dance classes and private lessons are the perfect way to learn dance basics without the public exposure.
Regardless of the type of dance you are interested in, there are a few universal dance basics to keep in mind that will really help you on the dance floor. Before you get started, make sure you are wearing the right shoes and take the time to warm up. It will make learning the dance basics much easier!
1. Learn the basic rhythm of your dance style and learn to move to it.
Getting your feet and arms used to the movements with the rhythm is actually the most basic aspect of any dance. While it seems this would be the easiest thing to do, it can be quite difficult for some new dancers to get the feel for the first few lessons. All dance styles are based on a certain rhythm to establish the proper movements. Listening to music from the right genre will give you a way to practice and train your body to move in time, making it far easier to learn the steps.
Salsa dancing, for example, is based on four counts with a pause on the fourth count. Many beginners try to fill all four beats with steps, resulting in them being out of sync early on. It may take a while, but taking the time to get used to counting correctly is a major key to mastering the steps. Most styles have a certain basic dance pattern to follow. Find out what yours is and practice it often.
2. Get used to moving your arms.
This is closely related to the rhythm, although most of us do not think about our arms when we first start to dance. If you watch yourself in the mirror, you might notice that an absolute lack of arm movement looks unnatural. So once your feet have the beat, get your arms working!
Partner dances are different than styles like hip hop and belly dancing. In partner dances, your arm movements depend a lot on the other person. But don’t think this is all there is to it. No matter what type of dance you do, you need to learn to keep your arms moving in rhythm with your legs. The rhythm will let you know when your arms should be in certain positions.
3. Watch your kicks.
Learning how to kick is one of the most fundamental dance basics. Kicks are important both for a smooth motion and to keep you from taking up too much space (or kicking someone else on the dance floor). Apart from ballet, your toes should be pointing toward the floor. Practicing this in front of a mirror can help you reduce your movements and to learn to kick in time with the music. Kicks can be difficult because our natural reaction is to move quickly, but like the steps, kicks need to be timed with the rhythm.
4. Ground yourself for turns.
Nearly all dance styles include turning and spinning. You need to make sure you find your balance and pick a point of reference for the turn. Usually dancers pick a spot on the wall or picture to focus on when they stop. This will help you to keep your balance.
5. Be confident.
You will make mistakes, and yes, you probably will look silly when you start, but you have to learn to commit to your movements. Confidence is everything, even when you’re not sure of the steps! If the audience can see that you’re having fun, your performance will be much more entertaining to watch.
Photo by Nuno Duarte