Many of us recall when Paul McCarthy’s ex-wife Heather Mills pulled off an outstanding dance performance on only one leg and a prosthetic device on the popular television show, “Dancing with the Stars.” If she could do it with only one leg, you can do it with two!
I am referring to ballroom dancing which is my favorite sport and social activity. With the right attitude, you too can condition your mind as well as your body to move with grace and precision like the dancers on these programs. Even if you haven’t seen the well-rehearsed dance performances on "Dancing with the Stars," you must have seen Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire dance their magic in their early Hollywood films. It’s natural to be in awe and feel intimidated by their flawless dancing style but remember they had to start somewhere. As a beginner or an intermediate dancer, you can fake it until you make it and I have some tips to help you get there.
Learning to dance is a mindset – a positive mindset. You’ll need to have confidence in yourself and the belief that you can learn to put one foot in front of the other with grace and control. I would be misleading you if I told you that it was all it takes. Like a precious jewel, ballroom dancing has many facets including:
- moving with your partner as though you were moving together as one
- being posed and charismatic
- moving with perfect form and timing
- expressing enthusiasm for the dance
For those of you who like being physically active, ballroom dancing will meet your need for freedom of movement. It’s ironic but the more you learn about how to dance, the more freedom you’ll experience. And as you become a better dancer, the more fun you’ll have in the process. Knowing the nuances of each dance will make you a popular dance partner as well. You have a long road ahead of you to developing all the skills you’ll need to become an advanced-level ballroom dancer but with dedication, practice and patience you can become the skillful dancer that you envision yourself to be.
As a certified image and etiquette consultant, I value the visual aspects of dance a great deal. How you look and act can add or detract from your experience, and impact how others view you and your dancing. How do you look? Is your appearance creating a distraction for you and for others? Or is it working for you and attracting others to you? You could be the best dancer in the world but if your appearance doesn’t support you and the dance, you might not be noticed for the dancer that you are - and consequently, you won’t have as much fun. There are 5 general aspects of your appearance you’ll need to consider:
1.Ballroom dancing is a contact sport between a man and a woman. It’s a flirtation, a fling, a romance and some dances such as the tango are fueled by passion and sexual tension. For starters, it’s important that men look manly and women look feminine. Attention to detail is also very important; and avoiding tired and old out-dated clothing is a must especially for the men. Wear only the colors and styles that flatter you the most. Take the time and make the investment to plan a dance wardrobe that results in your best look. Dancing is a physical and visual celebration and I urge everyone to treat it as such. Men and women dress the part and keep updating your dance wardrobe as you progress.
2.Wearing dance shoes that are comfortable and allow for ease of moment will enhance your dancing experience. Having more than one pair of dance shoes that flatters you and coordinates with your various dance outfits is a good idea.
3.Dressing with formality and aesthetics as your guide is important in ballroom dancing. Typically women spend extra time getting dressed-up for the occasion while they often complain that many of the men don’t put enough effort or thought into their dance attire. Dressing appropriately for the occasion in clothing that flatters you demonstrates respect for your dance partners; and ultimately attracts more invitations to dance from the opposite sex. For those of you who are single, isn’t that what you’d like? Don’t dress down, dress up; and leave your causal weekend attire at home!
4.Smiling is a great way to attract offers to dance and makes your partner feel that you’re enjoying the dance with them. In fact, smiling breaks down barriers and makes you appear younger than your years. Looking happy, youthful and healthy is an important aspect of the dance.
5.Keeping the atmosphere in the ballroom positive, friendly and inclusive is important to how others see you. When you do this, people will automatically be drawn to you and view you as more attractive. It’s best to avoid negative thinking and criticism of those who are less skilled at dancing than you. On the other hand, helpful hints offered with compassion can be useful tips to the more inexperienced dancer. Many of the dancers at the ballroom are working towards improving their dance skills and most improve over time. Extending kindness and courtesy toward others is the best way to maintain your positive image.
I practice what I teach and the outcome has paid dividends to me in ways that I couldn’t have even imagined. Looking my best and dressing the part has improved my dancing experience one hundred and fifty percent! Not only do I attract more dance partners and offers to date, but I feel freer, more comfortable with my body and confident in my abilities. I feel the music, stand taller and move more gracefully – and what’s more, my dancing has improved and I’m having more fun! It’s a feedback loop; the better I look, the better I feel and the more confident I am in my ability to learn more complex moves – and the happier I am, the more outgoing I am and the more friends I attract as a result. My life has become fuller because of my commitment to always look my best. If you have any concerns regarding your appearance I urge you to do something about it now. Why postpone the enjoyment that you deserve in your life? Whatever your hobby or passion is it could be much more rewarding when you look and feel your best.
Here are some photos of my dance buddies and me during my birthday celebration at the Gold Coast Ballroom in 2007.