Practice Partner…It Takes Two to Tango

You need a practice partner because ballroom dancing is not a solo activity.  In fact, for young and old alike, learning to ballroom dance is an excellent way to develop your social skills.  When you’re on the dance floor, you have to be comfortable with your partner regardless of who it may be.   

Dancing with your practice partner is more than just knowing where to put your feet. Take a look at the basic techniques of ballroom dancing.

Foot Position  

Foot position is described as where one foot is in relation to the other.  Such as forward, back, side, etc.

Timing

Timing is how long you stay on one foot before you go to the other.  Using correct timing means you are dancing to the music.  Look at the beautiful timing of this lovely competition-style Waltz.

Dance Position

Dance position is where you stand in relation to your partner.  For example, closed position, promenade position, open facing position, etc.

Partnership

Partnership is comprised of leading and following skills.  The leader signals a direction and the follower responds.  

My practice partner's name was Michael Dean
Barbara Tucker and Michael Dean
United States Ballroom Championships

Footwork and Leg Action

Footwork and Leg Action are how you use your feet and legs to get around the floor to create the desired effect.  Smooth dances use the legs and feet much differently than Rhythm dances do.  To illustrate, Foxtrot, Waltz, Tango, and Viennese Waltz are meant to move around the room.  Accordingly, the feet and legs make that happen.  Rhythm dances use hip action and don’t travel much, so the action of the feet and legs will be different.

Style

The style is the icing on the cake.  It’s how you use your body, arms, and legs to express the feeling of the music.  Style is why you can dance a box step in Waltz, Foxtrot, Rumba, Samba, or Quickstep and it will look and feel different in each dance.

What is a practice partner? A practice partner is  someone you work with to improve your partnership skills.  

In order for two people to move together as one, you have to learn the signals of leading and following. That means, the leader must make clear his intention and the follower must respond accordingly.  So, if you want to be a good dancer, what you need is a practice partner.

By the way, if you’re dancing the New Vogue Style of ballroom dancing, you’ll get lots of practice.  Check out this Dance Safari post, “New Vogue Style Dancing”.

Who makes a good practice partner?

Anyone you get along with can be a great practice partner.  The only requirement is that they are committed to improving their dancing.  You can practice with a parent, sibling, friend, wifey, hubby, neighbor, or a fellow student.

Where can we practice?

Finding a location to practice can be a challenge.  If you’re taking lessons at a studio, sometimes you’ll be permitted to practice there.  There may be a small “floor fee” or it may be a complimentary perk of being a student there.

When should we practice?

You should practice when it’s convenient for you and your partner. Set and keep a schedule to ensure consistent progress.  If you’re practicing at the studio, it might be a good idea to stay after class a bit. That way you can work on developing your skills while the information is fresh in your mind.

Why practice with a partner?

Because it takes two to Tango!  

Practice Partner
It takes two to Tango.

There you have it, all the reasons you need a practice partner.  Take your time and use care in choosing your team-mate.  Keep in mind that you’re embarking on a new relationship.  And, always remember the Golden Rule!

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