Like learning any skill, to become a good dancer takes patience and consistency! Dance, especially ballroom dance, is really an art form, and it consists of precise movements and bodily responses. This means that it to fine tune your dancing skills, you need to train your muscles to easily recall the steps and proper form.
That’s called muscle memory — the way your body remembers motor movement through repetition. The memories aren’t actually stored in your muscles, of course, but they become second nature while stored in your brain! By repeating the same thing over and over, the brain knows what comes next without much effort — the movement seems to just come naturally.
During the beginning stages of learning to dance, we recommend that you schedule your lessons close together – as often as twice a week to ensure the steps are committed to memory! The less time between lessons means the less you will forget, the less you will need to review, and the more you will be able to learn!
You’ll be dancing frequently (repetition!) and getting that personal touch to improve your technique over time. Regularly scheduled lessons help you establish strong relationships with your instructors and give them a better understanding of where you are skills-wise.
One great way to do this is to take group lessons and practice sessions that are supported by private lessons that hone your skills. Dancing with other amateur dancers at practice parties gives students a real life situation in non-threatening way. Plus, as a social dancer, you absolutely want opportunities to practice your lead/follow skills.
Let’s say you and your partner take tango lessons once or twice a month. You’d learn a lot throughout each lesson, but unless you practice at home or outside of the studio, when you returned two weeks later, you may have forgotten many of the steps. If you and a partner join in group sessions and throw a private lesson periodically, each time you come back, you’ll have retained much more of the dance in your muscle memory.
Most importantly, to really learn a dance and train your muscles to do it well, your priority should be focusing on the QUALITY of what you are doing. Repetition is essential, but a few good run-throughs are better than tons of sloppy ones. Drill the pieces of your steps that you’re struggling with. Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect!
So, how often should you take dance lessons? Just remember that consistency is key, and the longer you go between practices, lessons or group sessions, the more you’ll have to re-learn next time around! Plus, lessons are fun, so why not take them as often as you can?
What other questions do you have about learning to dance?