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 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. (This performance is too good to miss! Be sure to click on the link.)

Dance Position

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


The partnership techniques refer to 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.


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 his intention clear and the follower responds 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 complementary perk of being a student there.

When should we practice?

You should practice when it’s convenient for you and your partner. Therefore, keeping a schedule will ensure consistent progress.  In addition, 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?

Practice Partner
Because 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.  Also, keep in mind that you’re embarking on a new relationship.  Above all, always remember the Golden Rule!



  1. What a gorgeous image of you and your dance partner, Barbara; you both look so happy.
    As you’ve written there is so much reward should you find a partner as committed as yourself. The more I think upon it, the more I realise how very fortunate Keith and I were/are.
    So, tell me; how did you fare with your handsome dance partner. It’s easy to see you both had a lot of fun!

    • Thanks for the compliment. Indeed, having a dance partner makes everything easier.
      The picture is from our first professional competition, the United States Ballroom Championships. It was held at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC. We won the US American Style Professional Rising Star Championship and placed in the finals of the Championship division. It was a cool way to start our competitive career.

      • Wow, you can say that again, Barbara – a fabulous beginning!
        Perhaps, one day, you’ll post a few more images.. 🙂

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