Stop Practicing With A Partner | Kick-Ass Successful Dance Instructors

Stop Practicing With A Partner

Dancing Tips

Stop Practicing With A Partner

Dance Ninjas Universal Learning Method

This is Part 4 of a 4-part series on redeveloping techniques so they work with everyone you dance with:

By now, you understand…

why this is so important for your dancing

and…

the first guideline for turning any technique into your own Universal Technique.

If you don’t, click the links above before reading below.  Don’t worry, I’ll be here when you get back. 🙂

Ok, now that we’re all caught up…

 

Let’s take a look at the second guideline (and then how to give yourself the advantage):

2. Make it “Reaction Ready” Instead Of “Statically Styled”

Anytime you learn anything that is “supposed” to happen on a particular number (or beat)…

…it is very important to reframe so that you can make it happen on any number (or beat).

It is extremely rare that all your partners will do the same techniques all on the same number (or beat), even if they are all taught the same way.  Some will start it early, some will start it late, and some will do things at completely different times from what you were taught.

Creating habits that happen at a particular number (or beat) is a recipe for a “statically styled” dance that is NOT reacting to your partner, regardless of whether you are leading or following.

Whereas, reframing these concepts so you can do them at any moment (or beat) will make them “reaction ready”…so you are ready to use each concept at the exact moments that it makes sense in each individual situation, with each partner and/or the exact moment in the music that it feels best for you.

 

Example: Counterbalance

For example, if you are “supposed” to go into counterbalance on 3 and come out on 4 in any particular movement, this is very static and unchanging.  It happens at a particular time, regardless of what your partner does.

We will discuss how to adjust this as both a lead and a follow to make it reaction ready.

If you really want to be one of the most skilled dancers, learn how to reframe each technique/concept both as a lead and as a follow.  That way, within any aspect of the dance (counterbalance, grounding, matching arms, etc), you can help improve the experience by subtly adjusting your lead/follow role, making each aspect of the dance more clear (as a lead) and more in sync (as a follow) while still remaining in your primary role.

Reaction Ready Reframing For Follows

For follows, you will want to change this from the statically styled statement to a reaction ready statement as shown below:

Statically Styled Reaction Ready (for follows)
Go into counterbalance on 3 and come out on 4. Go into counterbalance when your partner goes in and come out when your partner comes out.

Now this might sound obvious, but I can’t stress how often it doesn’t happen (especially in classes).  Even when the follows think they are waiting and reacting, they are often a split second ahead of their lead.

But follows, don’t beat yourself up!  It’s most likely not all your doing.  Of course you are naturally going to do this in the above situations.  It’s being conditioned into you!  How can we expect anything else, if you are constantly hearing that you should go into counterbalance on 3 and come out on 4.  Of course, you are going to be inclined to make that happen (thereby leading it) when you hear it described this way over and over…

…unless…you do something about it.

That’s why it’s soooo important to actively reframe any statically styled statement to a reaction ready statement EVERY TIME you hear or think a statically styled one.

In fact, I’d recommend restating it in a reaction ready statement, out loud, twice for every one time you hear it statically styled.  Of course, restating it once inside of your head is better than nothing.  But for every time you notice it, there are probably a few times where you didn’t notice it, so restating it twice and out loud (especially if the static statement was said out loud) will give you more chances of overcoming that accidental conditioning. 

If you actively do this every single time, you will improve your following dramatically and jump lightyears ahead of the average follow.

Follows, want an easier way?

Reframing everything you learn takes a lot of time and effort that could instead be spent on improving your musicality, connection, body awareness, and many other aspects of your dancing.

At Dance Ninjas, we are very aware of how our words affect your learning experience and we are constantly making sure we are using reaction ready statements, so you don’t have to reframe everything that we teach you.

Join Dance Ninjas Dance Training so you can spend more time on the key aspects to improving your dancing with everyone.

Side note: Not all your leads will be skilled enough to clearly lead every single aspect of the dance.  If that is the case, and you don’t understand what they want for counterbalance, no problem…just use the reaction ready statement for leads (see below) and subtly get your partner to go in and out of counterbalance when you want them to.  Then appreciate your awesome ninja like skills of being able to do this without them even realizing you are helping guide them.

 

Reaction Ready Reframing For Leads

For leads, you will want to change this from the statically styled statement to a reaction ready statement as shown below:

Statically Styled Reaction Ready (for leads)
Go into counterbalance on 3 and come out on 4. Get each individual partner to go in and out of counterbalance at different moments of your choosing (including but not limited to the statically styled version).

There are two important aspects to the reaction ready statement for leads.

1. “Get each individual partner” reminds me that there are a variety of ways to succeed in this task and the same method won’t work for everyone.

So by focusing on what it takes to get each individual partner to do this, I increase my chances of finding more successful methods that will work on the social dance floor.

2. “…at different moments of your choosing” trains my body to be able to adjust the timing of the movement.

If I train my body to do things on a specific number, then it will be harder to adjust my body to change based on my partner and the music because I will be working against a static habit that I  trained into my body.

Whereas, if I train my body to be able to change at any moment, then I am teaching my body to be able to automatically adjust. That way my body can automatically choose a version of the counterbalance that will work best depending on how my partner is moving and the exact moment in the music.

That’s why it’s soooo important to actively reframe any statically styled statement to a reaction ready statement EVERY TIME you hear or think a statically styled one.

If you actively do this every single time, you will improve your leading dramatically and jump lightyears ahead of the average lead.

Leads, want an easier way?

Reframing everything you learn takes a lot of time and effort that could instead be spent on improving your musicality, connection, body awareness, and many other aspects of your dancing.

At Dance Ninjas, we are very aware of how our words affect your learning experience and we are constantly making sure we are using reaction ready statements, so you don’t have to reframe everything that we teach you.

Join Dance Ninjas Dance Training so you can spend more time on the key aspects to improving your dancing with everyone.

Side note: Not all your follows will be skilled enough to follow every single aspect of your lead. If that is the case, and you can’t seem to get the outcome you want for counterbalance, no problem…just use the reaction ready statement for follows (see above) and subtly go in and out of counterbalance when your partner is going in and out of it while leading the other aspects of the dance.  Then appreciate your awesome ninja like skills of being able to do this without them even realizing you are adjusting for them.

 

 

Here is the 3rd aspect:

3. Find All Possible Variations Of A Technique

 

Let’s look at examples of what we mean by each approach when we are learning a specific topic.

learning a move that requires counterbalance at

Over the last 15+ years, I have studied many styles of dance but this method will best be explained if I use one dance form to explain the Universal Learning Method.

Since Lindy Hop is the dance I have the strongest background in, I will use it to share this concept.  If you do a different dance besides Lindy Hop, bare with me and you will see how this applies in your dance too.

 

 

To give you an idea of how much I have studied Lindy Hop and it’s various styles, out of the 51 teachers that taught for Frankie 100, I have taken from 48 of them so far.

but my point will be better served if I stick ) and and I learned a lot of techniques

There is a new method to learn to partner dance and to best describe it, let’s compare it to the standard method of learning to partner dance.

1. You can learn a style of partner dance (Lindy Hop, Tango, Salsa, Blues, WCS, etc). We will call this the Styled Learning Method.

2. You can learn to partner dance with everyone you encounter regardless of their style of dance.  We will call this the Universal Learning Method.

Of course, you can mix and match these methods, but we are separating them so you can clearly see the differences and benefits of each.

If you take most of your classes from one teacher, then you are probably learning a style of the particular dance.

Of course, you can also combine these methods and learn to partner dance with emphasis in a specific style and we will talk more about that later.

The first two methods might sound similar but the results can be very different depending on which approach you use.

Here is how you would practice or learn in each method:

  Style Method Universal Dance Method
What You Practice You practice one very specific movement.  Anything else is considered “wrong” or “bad”. You practice a variety of ways your body can move and choose the one that works best for each partner.

Let’s look at examples of what we mean by each approach when we are learning a specific topic.

Let’s say we are learning about “Bounce” or the concept of your body moving up and down during certain moments of the music.

Here is how you would learn to bounce in each of these methods:

  Styled Method Partner-Styled Method Universal Dance Method
What You Practice You practice one very specific movement.  Anything else is considered “wrong” or “bad”. You practice at least two very specific movements in a category and try to use the one that works best for each partner or song. You practice a variety of ways your body can move and choose the one that works best for each partner or song.
PracticingBounce Practice making sure your body is at it’s lowest point on each beat of the music and at it’s highest point in-between the beats. Practice these two options:A. Your body is at it’s lowest point on each beat of the music and at it’s highest point in-between the beats.B. The exact opposite of A.After practicing these concepts in your own body, you then practice them with a partner and change your method when your partner changes their method.  

Let’s look at examples of what we mean by each approach when we are learning a specific topic.

 

  Styled Approach Partner-Styled Approach Universal Dance Approach
What You Practice Your body should do one very specific movement and that is what you practice.  Anything else is considered “wrong”. Your body should do one very specific movement but there are other great ways to move as well, you just won’t practice them in this class. There are a variety of ways your body can move and you will practice many of them during this class.
ExampleForBounce Your body should be at it’s lowest point on each beat of the music and at it’s highest point   By using compare and contrast, you can actually choose

 

 

 

 

Learning a Style of Dance vs Learning to Partner Dance with Emphasis In A Style

 

 

You can learn a concept that

Dance Ninjas’ Universal Dance Approach is often referred to as “Fusion”.

If you have already heard of the concept of Fusion, beware!  The concepts below might be drastically different from what you thought Fusion was.  We believe Fusion is a great name for our approach because our mission is to have amazing dances with anyone to any music.  If we want to be the best we can at this, it requires us to “fuse our movement with our partner and the music”.

You might read that and think “that is just good dancing”… in some ways, I agree, but still… I dare you to look deeper into just how well you are doing this in every aspect of your dancing.  In my experience, 99.9% of us don’t do this in a large amount of our dancing (including myself, especially before I started analyzing and improving).  But it is not because we don’t want to, it is because we have been trained not to (and we usually don’t even realize it).

 

, then when someone uses their arm instead of their body to do that movement, it can be much more difficult to connect well with that partner.  Imagine instead of being trained to only be able to connect well with a partner who uses their body, what if you were trained on how to connect well with partners who use their body AND partners who use their arms AND partners who use both their body and their arms.  You would then be able to have amazing dances regardless of what style of connection your partner is using!  Dance Ninjas’ Universal Teaching Method takes a concept like body leading/following and looks at how to have great dances when people are using the concept AND when people are not using the concept.

 

For the rest of this article, we will use the word “Fusion” when talking about our Universal Dance Approach to teaching dance.

Here are some interesting concepts:

 

 

 

3. Fusion is the simplest way to start dancing and the hardest concept to master.  It is the simplest way to start because everyone else’s job is to make the dance amazing.  Since everyone is trying to fuse their movement with yours, nothing you do is wrong to them because they are trying to be able to have an amazing dance with anyone, even a complete beginner, no matter what the circumstances.  Notice that nowhere in the definition does it say “fuse your movement with your partner unless they are not doing it right” (side note: watch carefully and you will see that is how our culture tends to teach dance, some people more than others but I have been working to delete this from my methods for over 7 years and I still notice myself doing it in subtle ways).

WARNING: Be careful, I did NOT say “anything goes” for you… I said “anything goes for your partner”.  There is a big difference in these two statements.  The first says I can be reckless and wild and have no technique.  The second says I am constantly learning new and vastly different techniques so that I can dance with anyone no matter what their technique or skill level.  Fusion is the hardest to master because if you truly want to have an amazing dance with anyone (or 100% fuse with them), you need to understand every single way of moving possible, and if you really want to 100% fuse with the music, you need to understand every form of music and every way to move your body possible so you can 100% match up your movement to the music and your partner.

4. Fusion is about putting your connection to your partner and the music as a higher priority over the dance style you are learning/teaching.  It can be done in any dance style and if it were done, many people would probably call it “just good dancing” or “just good teaching” but it is definitely not the current fundamental starting point in classes today and so there are so many ways we as dance teachers are not teaching this concept… or interpreted another way, we are not teaching “good dancing”!  The more and more I watch how people teach (including myself occasionally), the more and more I see how the way our culture teaches dance makes it very difficult for people to learn to have amazing dances with anyone to any music (or to truly fuse their movement with their partner and the music).  It has been my quest to change this in my teaching (and hopefully in other people’s too).

5.  Maybe another way to look at it would be that the ultimate goal of a Fusion dancer is to be able to have the most amazing dance to any music (100% fusing to the music) with anyone (100% fusing to a partner).  At the highest level, a dancer who has never danced salsa in their life could go out and have a fantastic salsa dance with any salsa dancer and no one would even know they had never done salsa before.  They have the ability to do this not because someone taught them that they should move this way because that is what you do in Salsa (which is putting the dance as a higher priority over the partner and the music). Instead, they have learned about how to fuse their body with a partner and how to fuse their body to the music at very high levels and they are doing that… which means they are putting fusing their movement with their partner and the music as a higher priority than doing the dance.  The dance happens because it actually makes sense to happen instead of because that is what they were taught is supposed to make sense.

This is exactly how a dance is created, someone moves the way it feels best with the partner and the music.  Then everyone watches them, codifies how they move and tries to teach others how to do that … but I feel like they are missing the point of the initial teacher.  They are seeking to imitate the master and do what the master did, instead of seeking the same thing the master sought after.  Another way to look at Fusion… Fusion is the creation of dance (even dances that have already been created) instead of the imitation of dance.  Again, watch how we all teach dance while keeping this in mind and you will see how this is NOT the current fundamental starting point of how the current teachers today are teaching.  Many are trying, some come closer than others, but very few are really nailing it yet… of course, I am always on the look out and open to suggestions!  I take from everyone in the hopes of them not just teaching me more dance ideas but also to find more ways I am missing this in my own teaching.

6.  *shameless plug*  These happen to be the methods that I use when teaching and you can experience them in my online dance school, www.DanceNinjas.com!  Teaching this way has been a work in progress for somewhere between 8-12 years and I keep on learning more ways to refine it.  Ok, you don’t really have to keep this one in mind when continuing to read on… however, I would like it if you did!  🙂

 

In order to become a great dancer, do you need to learn specific dance forms?

I think that it is incredibly helpful to learn specific dances but I wouldn’t say that if you have 100 hours to take classes, then 50 hours of Fusion & 50 hours of a specific dance would be better than 100 hours of straight fusion or 100 hours of a specific dance.  It really depends on what your goals are and who is teaching you.  Is your goal to imitate dance or to actually create dance?  Which are you and your teacher setting yourself up for (regardless of whether you are teaching a traditional dance or not)?  For example, right now, in Lindy Hop, many dancers do a Rock Step on count 1-2 because that is what they learned.  They don’t realize why it makes sense, when it makes sense, and maybe more importantly… when it doesn’t.  They just do it because that is what they were taught.  To an outsider this might look better than someone who is aimlessly moving to the music.  But for the person actually dancing this way they have no better connection to the music than the person aimlessly wandering, it just appears they do.

Also, who is a better dancer… the person who can do a bunch of moves that people associate with Lindy Hop and just happens to rock step at a time that makes sense most of the time or someone who can only walk forward and backward but understands why they should switch from moving forward to moving backward and when it makes sense and when it doesn’t and understands when it should happen in any music (not just Lindy Hop music). Now it is possible that a teacher teaches their students the purposes behind these movements and when they make sense or don’t make sense and I would argue that some teachers do.  But then I would ask, are you telling them this concept and then moving on in your class or are you actually setting them up to succeed in this concept?  If you are setting them up to succeed in this concept, then I would say you are prioritizing fusing with the music over doing the dance.  However, most teachers prioritize the other way and just make sure that the person can do the swing out.  Most teachers are not setting them up to succeed in this concept and the proof can be shown by asking any Lindy Hopper to start their Rock Steps on 3-4 or 5-6 or 7-8 and still make the transition on 1-2 look like it makes sense to the music.  Most wouldn’t be able to do that.  So yes, specific dance training can help… but if we take one person who only studies Fusion and takes 10 hours of Fusion, and one person who studies 5 hours of each, we can’t say that the person who studies 5 hours of each is going to be better or worse.  It just depends on what and how they are taught and what their goals are.

 

Should Fusion be taught from the beginning stages of dance?

I absolutely think Fusion (in my definition, not to be all snobby as if mine is the best but just to be clear on what I am talking about:) should be taught from the very start!  Now, if someone only defined Fusion as combining two different dance styles, then I would agree that it would be disadvantageous to teach a beginner this.  (side note: for me, that concept of combining two styles is included in my definition but it is a very small subset of my definition and it would almost completely defeat the purpose of my definition if that was the main focus).

Today, many people learn and constantly reinforce the concept of putting the dance as a priority over their partner and over the music (including myself unfortunately but I am working non-stop to change that).  It was not until several years after I started dancing that I started to realize the difference and now 15 years later I am still trying to get rid of some of those habits that I learned that make it difficult for me to have great dances with anyone and teach my students to do the same.  I want to keep taking dance classes to continue to improve but as I do that I also constantly have to fight against the habits that the teachers are training into us because of the way our culture thinks about, teaches, learns, and practices dance in the world today.  I wish someone had taught me the concepts I know now so that I could have been combating those bad habits during the first few years too (and I am sure I will say the same thing 5 years from now about what I know now compared to what I will know then).  To some degree, it saddens me deeply and to another degree, it excites the hell out of me because it means I get to be at the forefront of something that is changing the world of partner dance!  Still, I would be a much better dancer today if my fundamentals had started with the concepts I now teach and share with beginner dancers which all come from making “fusing my movement with my partners and the music” the number one priority… and keep in mind… I primarily get hired to teach Lindy Hop so I am doing this within a traditional dance form a lot of the time.

Do you need frame & connection to have a great dance?

I disagree with the common notion that without frame or without connection you can’t have a great dance.  I have had some amazing dances that were all based on visual lead/follow.  I have had some amazing dances where technically our connection was about as much of a train wreck as I have EVER seen or experienced on the dance floor.  I love connected dances too but they are not a requirement for me.  I also don’t think the only thing you can teach in a fusion class is frame and connection.  I would first teach the fundamentals of frame and connection (as best I understand them) but once people learn these fundamentals, I can take them to higher levels of understanding these topics.  I would also argue that the “fundamentals” of frame and connection are rarely taught in any beginning (or even intermediate) lesson.  Maybe some people teach them but I have taken a lot of classes from a lot of teachers and what I usually see is “a style of frame or connection” being taught rather than what I would call “fundamentals” of frame/connection.  I can give examples if needed.

Does how you are teaching support the Fusion mindset?

As a teacher, you can teach people the mindset of fusion and that is great for when they take other people’s classes and for all the mistakes you are going to be making in your classes… but maybe even more important is to keep the mindset at the forethought of how you teach and make sure that what you are teaching supports the mindset.

For example, tone matching is a great example of a concept that is perfect for a Fusion class.  The only question is how are you going to teach it?  Are you going to teach it in a way that allows people to have better dances with people who tone match but leave them frustrated when they dance with people who don’t?  Or are you going to teach in a way that allows people to use or not use tone matching to improve every dance with every person?  The latter is using the Fusion mindset to teach.

Delving into specific dance forms when teaching

Eventually after teaching basics of fusion it would make sense to delve into particular dance styles (and certainly you could give examples of styles along the way and how they apply to what you are teaching).  Still, when working group lessons or private lessons with people I haven’t reached the point yet where I feel like it would make sense to delve more into a specific dance form.  Pretty much every time I am working with someone, I need to bring them back to some basic concept that they never fully grasped because they were taught a style of dance instead of how to dance… For me, our current culture of teaching dance is like teaching people grammar before you have even shown them the alphabet…  and I work with some of the best dancers in the world in Lindy Hop, Blues, WCS, Finnish Tango, and loads of other dance forms so I am not just talking about the average intermediate dancer.  Even the best of the best are missing a lot of the alphabet… which is kind of cool to know that someone can be soooo freaking amazing and still have soooo much more to learn!

How most dancers teach aesthetics on accident

Even when teachers are not trying to teach aesthetics, I would argue that many of them  do it on accident all the time, in fact, more often than not.  For instance, most people teach people to have a specific type of frame, put your arm here, resist here, relax there, etc… but each teacher is teaching a slightly different style of frame.  These in turn create aesthetics.  When it comes to teaching frame, I think the only way to not teach an aesthetic (that I can think of) is to teach someone a myriad of different types of frames, how to work with each of them, benefits and negatives of each, and then let the students choose the frame they want.  What do you think?

Want more ideas about teaching dance?  Get free tips at www.DanceNinjas.com.

This article is based on my responses in this conversation:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/165042273557980/613281878734015

 

 

We will use this to

What skills do I expect my students to have after one class?

The ability to walk with their partner forward and backward and experiment in different ways of doing that to the music.  A very simple understanding of how to move and be moved and a very simple form of musicality… (maybe understanding Energy changes)… They should be comfortable dancing to any song (more comfortable than before) and feeling like they are able to communicate with their partner (better than before).  They should be able and comfortable dancing for the next 2-3 hours.

Keep in mind the following 6 points when reading my responses below… 

1. My definition for Fusion = Fusing your movement with your partner & the music

 

I have some examples of this on my audio talk about the myth of “Fusion is just good dancing” topic here:https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B7oVj0MMv0MDZkZqR3FVT1FXcVU&usp=sharing

 

Post 3
Overcome doubt or objection

3 reasons learning dance online is probably better for your dancing

1. More likely to work solo & learn your own body first

2. Figure things out (like all the old timers did)

3. Guidance from a pro (for the moments when you’re stuck)

 

4. Practice in your daily life

Want To Take The Fast Track?

If you don’t want to spend 15 years taking thousands of hours of classes in order to develop a bunch of techniques that have already been developed for you…

Join Dance Ninjas Dance Training and get all 5 of the above techniques (plus much more), which will all be taught using the above 3 guidelines for Universal Learning so you don’t have to figure it out on your own.

 

 

 

So now that you see the value of having a Universal Learning Method, you are probably wondering…

How do you implement the Universal Learning Method in your dancing and learning?

I promise I will show you exactly how to do this on your own below but first let’s look at the easiest method.

The easiest method (especially if you have never done anything like this before) is to join Dance Ninjas Dance Training and start using the 100+ techniques, tips and concepts.  That way you can see and experience a bunch of techniques that have already been redeveloped from taking thousands of hours of classes (see guideline 3 below).

Our redeveloped techniques would give you a huge head start over having to create everything from scratch and it would save you many many years of constantly reworking techniques that have already been created for you.

That said, we would love for you to create your own techniques too!  Plus, if you understand the structure for creating universal techniques, you might even end up improving some of ours and bringing more awesome ideas to the world of dance!

So if you are the type that wants to create some of your own techniques, you are going to love this post!

There are 3 main guidelines that we find are key to making any technique universal:

  1. Turn judgments (and rules) into options with descriptive benefits
  2. Make it “Reaction Ready” instead of “Statically Styled”
  3. Continuously redevelop to work for all new variations

 

Let’s take a closer look at the first guideline.

  1. Turn judgments (or rules) into options with descriptive benefits

Anytime you hear or think something judgmental, “wrong”, “bad”, “shouldn’t”, or even “right”, “good”, or “should”, try to turn both the positive and negative aspects of that judgment into positives.

For example:

Judgment Your Option A Your Option B
The follow “should” follow your counterbalance. If your partner is following your counterbalance, then lead the style of counterbalance you want. If your partner is not following your counterbalance, then follow their counterbalance and appreciate your badass ninja like ability to do this.

Want to know what “counterbalance” is?  Click here

This reframing is important because the above judgement might inherently suggest to you (like it did for me) that if the follows do not follow your counterbalance, they are “bad” dancers or doing something “wrong”.

The downside of this was that when I came across a follow that didn’t follow my counterbalance, I didn’t do anything about it.  I assumed the dance was doomed to be subpar because they were just doing it “wrong”.

I overcame this and now have more amazing dances with both follows who follow my counterbalance and follows who don’t, and I did this by reframing that judgement into the above 2 options (A & B) and practicing them both.

Does this make sense?  If not, ask for clarifications in the comments below.

Let’s look at an example of how follows might use this concept for the following judgment:

Judgment Your Option A  Your Option B
Arm leading is “wrong” If the lead is leading with his body, match him and follow with your body to make the dance feel great. If the lead is leading with his arms, follow with your arms to balance the dance and make it feel great.

 


Now sometimes you won’t always be able to describe an exact option with benefits (or you might just create a different option than the ones above).

For instance, you might not realize that along with body leading and arm leading, there is also something called body following and arm following, so you may not be able to create the exact options as shown above.

Don’t worry, you can still create an awesome reframing that will improve your dancing with everyone.

Let’s look at an example of how follows might use this concept, if they only learned how to follow someone who is body leading and didn’t know about arm following (or any other solution to arm leading) yet:

Judgment Your Option A  Your Option B (no solution yet)
Arm leading is “wrong” If the lead is leading with his body, dance the way I was taught to make the dance feel great. If the lead is leading with his arms, find a way to make it feel great.

 


Although this doesn’t provide the immediate solution, it at least keeps your mind open and curious about finding a way to make that option great.

Whereas, if you just think “arm leading is wrong”, you are much less likely to figure out a way to make it feel great because you are predisposing yourself to the idea that it is just “wrong” and there is nothing you can do.

Many of the concepts we develop start with the “find a way to make it great” option and then develop into some exciting new discovery (like arm following) because we are relentless in our search.

Let’s look at how this Universal Learning Method can also be applied to musicality concepts:

Judgment Your Option A Your Option B
You “should” bounce down on every beat. Bouncing down gives the dance a heavier or earthier feel. Bouncing up gives the dance a lighter or heavenly feel.

 

I love seeing dancers use the music to guide their dancing.

Even if you are doing a specific traditional style of dance that usually has a specific feel to it, it is very likely that there will be all sorts of moments in traditional songs that call for moving lighter or heavier than you traditionally move.

Plus, even if there aren’t any moments that call for a different way of bouncing, I love to bounce down (or up) because I can feel it actually fits the music and I am choosing it, instead of doing it because I don’t know how to do anything else.

Experienced dancers know when to follow and when to break the rules, so go ahead and set yourself up ahead of time by understanding the benefits of both.

Note: You won’t always know the benefits for both following and breaking the rules (and some might even tell you there are no benefits to one method) but that doesn’t mean the benefits don’t exist.

Remember, this is just the first of three important guidelines to creating Universal techniques that allow you to have more amazing dances with everyone, regardless of whether or not they know the technique.

To sum up all 3 guidelines again, they are:

  1. Turn judgments (or rules) into options with descriptive benefits
  2. Make it “Reaction Ready” instead of “Statically Styled”
  3. Continuously redevelop to work for all possible variations

 

The rest of this post is still in progress here

We will cover the other two guidelines very soon.  We will send you updates when the other guidelines are posted if you join our mailing list and you will also get an awesome free tip: The Ultimate Tip For Month Long Dance Highs.

In the meantime, think about this:

To learn to dance at the highest levels, you will want to create Universal Learning Methods for every aspect of your dancing, including:

  • Counterbalance
  • Grounding
  • Body vs Arm Leading/Following
  • Musicality (and a variety of subcategories of musicality)
  • Stationary Spins and Traveling Turns

…and much MUCH more.

So pick a technique you want to redevelop and get started on this today.  You can always revise and improve it as you go (and if you’re anything like me, you will do this many times) but if you don’t start, you won’t have anything to improve.

Want To Take The Fast Track?

If you to get a jumpstart on learning universally and experience a bunch of techniques that have already been redeveloped for you from thousands of hours of classes in over 231 cities across 34+ countries…

Join Dance Ninjas Dance Training and get over 100 more techniques, tips and concepts, which will all be taught using the above 3 guidelines for Universal Learning so you don’t have to figure it out on your own.

 

Have questions? Feel free to ask them below!

Follow

About the Author

Andrew Sutton is a World Champion Lindy Hop Instructor, and one of the original founders of the Fusion partner dance movement. He uses his extensive research in over 244 cities across 38 countries (& 44 dance forms) to help dance instructors be more successful financially during their pursuit to help their students Make Every Dance Amazing! Impossible? Maybe...but if you shoot for the moon and miss, at least you'll land amongst the stars!

>