dreamsDear Dance Doctor,

My dream has always been to dance, but I get so frustrated sometimes because I don’t feel I learn as fast as the others in class.  I try to take as many classes as I can, but I don’t seem to be getting it very quickly.  Am I being impatient with myself, or should I just take up knitting?  Signed, Impatient

Dear Impatient,

Save the knitting for another decade!  Right now, it’s time to dance!

To answer your question more completely, though, The Dance Doctor is going to ask some hard questions.

First, did you really spend several months in Level One, or did you start thinking, “This is too easy.  I’m going to go to Level Two.”

Have you taken any technique workshops or private lessons?

Do you only come to one style of dance classes?

Do you only sporadically attend classes and mostly go to the dance halls?

The reason The Doctor is playing 20 Questions here is impatience is probably the most common reason for slow progress. It is easy to get frustrated if you are not at the proper class/skill level.

Group classes are wonderful!  They are fabulous opportunities to learn new patterns, as well as a chance to have fun with our dance friends.

The “but” here… and you knew there was a but… group classes are not the place to learn higher levels of technique.  Your instructor cannot watch 15 pairs of feet as each person is executing the pattern.  Our instructors are wonderful, but they only have one set of eyes, and 55 minutes!

If you truly want to improve, go DOWN a skill level.  Ask any great dancer and every single one of them will tell you the hours and hours they spend on the basics.  On practicing spins and turns.  On spotting.  On timing.  On balance.  They do drills up and down the floor, just breaking down every part of a move to its most basic elements.

Most of us are just social dancers and/or amateur competitors.  We want to learn to dance to have fun.  So The Doctor understands if the thought of doing spotting drills is too boring to contemplate.  But understand that being a great dancer has a price.  And that price is practice.  And maybe a little ego check.  Spend some time truly concentrating during an “easy” class, and you’ll realize just how hard it is to consistently slide that heel out correctly.  Or hold that frame.  Or not turn your head until three.  Or take your core back when you anchor, not your butt…  The slower pace of the class allows you to focus on the details that can make or break your dancing.

If you are truly feeling so frustrated you’re ready to quit, The Doctor begs you to think about investing in your dance dream by taking a few private lessons with your favorite instructor.  Your enthusiasm will be renewed and you’ll be a dance junkie again in no time.

If you have any questions or comments for the Dance Doctor, please send them to DanceDoctor@austinuptowndance.com.

Happy dancing!