Beginning Ballroom Dance? Expectations vs Reality

Whether it’s smooth and elegant or fast and sexy, ballroom dancing has the power to hold your attention. Bitten by the bug? Then, it’s time for you to learn. As you begin ballroom dance, it’s a good idea to be aware of the typical expectations vs reality.

Mindset Plays a Big Part of Expectations

Beginning ballroom dance lessons might have you thinking –

  • It’ll be a piece of cake because you love music and sports. Things like that come easily to you.
  • You don’t want to embarrass yourself. Everyone will see what a klutz you are.
  • You really don’t know what to expect. So, because you’re clueless, you’ll just wait and see.

The truth is, you’ll be surprised by the whole experience. The expectation may be that it’ll be easy or hard or whatever. But, for the beginning ballroom dancer, the reality is that it’s all that and more.

What’s involved in learning to dance?

There are layers of knowledge that go into making a good social dancer.

The Beginner Ballroom Dancer Must Learn Patterns, aka Steps

The first thing to do is learn which way to go. Although ballroom dancing is much more than steps, they serve a useful purpose. In fact, you could say they’re like a GPS for the dancers. Therefore, learning patterns gets you moving in the right direction.

If you’re not accustomed to things like sports or other styles of dance, learning steps may be more challenging for you.

beginning ballroom dance means learning steps

Dance Technique

Amount of turn, contra-body movement, footwork, and leg action are examples of techniques that make you look and feel good on the dance floor.

Any type of martial artist or gymnast will shine when it comes to picking up dance techniques. That’s because they’re trained to isolate muscles in order to perform difficult movements.


According to, musicality, as it pertains to dancing, “…means that a dancer is aware of the music and the unique elements within that music. If they have good musicality, their movements will match the quality and elements of the music.

Unless you are a trained musician or artist, you may struggle with musicality. Of course, this doesn’t mean you won’t get it. Rather, you’ll need to give it all of your attention.

Here’s a Dance Safari post, “Don’t Let Fear Stop You From Learning Partner Dancing“.

Communication or Partnership Techniques

Poise, posture, frame, and split-second response time for the follower all play important parts in ballroom dancing. A leader communicates action and movement with his body and frame. (The frame is the way the arms are held while dancing.) Finally, the follower goes just after the leader moves.

You’d think it would be easy, right? A leader leads and a follower follows. To be successful, it takes a bold leader and a sensitive follower. Equal rights? That’s not gonna fly here. There’s only one leader.


Along with facial expressions, you can add moves and techniques like hip action, underarm turns, kicks, and arm styling. They all go to telling the story that goes along with the song and your performance.

Expressing the feeling of the dance means letting go of self-consciousness and embracing the power of the music and the partnership. This seems to be the most difficult for shy people who are uncomfortable in their skin. However, the beauty of achieving good expression on the dance floor is the improvement in the way you relate to others in your life.

Beginning ballroom dance, learn to express the music.

So, there you have it.

You may be shocked by how some things are easy for you to pick up, while others frustrate you. When it comes to beginning ballroom dance, everybody’s different. Your life experiences affect all the different aspects and techniques you’ll be learning. Read about different learning styles here.

What I always say is, “Just sit back and enjoy the journey!

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  1. In our first competition, Barbara, doing the waltz I knew we were in trouble when Keith asked as the music began. “In what direction do I go?” Hahah… I’d never before seen him so anxious!
    He became a most beautiful dancer…

    • Oh, boy, Carolyn, I can feel the blood draining from my face with that comment. As Bette Davis said, “Fasten your seatbelts; we’re in for a bumpy night.”
      You made me smile again. Thanks.

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