Dancing Graces

Grace On-line

February 23, 2009

Dear Grace:

Is it my imagination or are there a lot of dancers who seemed to have forgotten their manners? I recently went to a dance in a nice venue but I can't say I had a good time. Within four measures of music, this one young lady suffered a pained expression on her face that lasted throughout the song and as soon as the music stopped, she disappeared! I'm pretty sure I didn't step on her feet or did anything to offend her. I can't say this is the first time it's happened, though some others merely give up following my leads and just do their own thing for the rest of the song.

Is it really that hard to be polite and to enjoy a dance regardless of who your partner is?

- Bewildered


Dear Bewildered:

It is probably a mutual decision that you and this person will not dance together again soon. From the tone of your letter, it sounds like this has happened to you before, although not with the same person. This behavior is as unfortunate as it is timeless. It can happen to anyone regardless of how long he/she has been dancing. So we will focus on improving your enjoyment of social dancing.

Quoting a friend, "You don't have to be the best dancer; you just want to be the one with whom everyone wants to dance." With that in mind, pursue your own "personal best." Take a few private lessons with a qualified instructor to fine tune your skills and rid yourself of any unconscious dance habits you may have which interfere with lead-follow connection. Most of us who have not had private instruction are likely to have such habits.

Choose dance partners from all skill levels and age groups in the room. This will help take your dancing to the next level, and will help the dance community. You cannot be the only one in the room who has experienced a Runaway Dancer on any given evening. The moment you extend a kindness could be just the moment it is sorely needed by the person on the receiving end of it.

Learning to dance is very similar to learning a foreign language. Both require a great deal of practice and social skill. The more you learn, and the more you practice your lessons with some degree of grace, the easier it will be for you to dance and for partners to dance with you.

Do you have questions about proper behavior on the dance floor? Please send them to DanceNet and they'll be forwarded to Grace.

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