Why Beginner Classes are Good for ALL Dancers
"Beginner classes are so boring!” Has anyone ever said this to you? Maybe they prefer to take more advanced classes instead, until they are left with a plethora of steps, but little technique to back them up. But they – or you – might want to reconsider that strategy. If we’re being really honest with ourselves, we often only attend the more challenging classes because just the act of taking them makes us feel more advanced, especially when we tell others what we’re learning. Who wants to say they’ve been attending ‘ballroom basics’ more than once? On the other hand, if you want to actually demonstrate great dancing, those beginner courses could be just what you need to start turning heads and lining up dance partners your way.
It builds your foundations
Like losing weight, there is no miracle pill, no substitute for hard work. Beginner classes focus on the basics of movement without distracting you with advanced technique you aren’t ready for. For example, if you aren’t full changing your weight properly and losing your balance because of it, how can you possibly be expected to improve your hip action, or rise and fall? In a beginner class, you are free to work on the pillars that uphold more advanced technique. Here’s just a few things beginner group classes can help improve (that you will use forever!):
As you move from beginner, to advanced, you’ll notice that there are more and more people who are ‘hungry’, who crave technique like a drug, because it gives them more opportunity to be noticed by teachers or potential partners.When we get sucked into this rat race, it can be easy to forget that we started dancing for reasons as simple as having fun, meeting some friends, or expressing ourselves. Beginner courses let you reconnect to that relaxed vibe, so you can infuse new joy into every movement.
I’m not saying advanced classes are a waste of time – far from it! As technique piles upon technique however, it helps to remember that this house you are building is only as strong as its base – and every house needs maintenance, from time to time.
Adapted from: Ian Crewe – SocialBallroom.Dance
Every day needs a Dog in it...
You arrive home and there she is, the gentlest creature who has made you the most important person in her life. Her tail begins to wag swiftly, so swiftly that her little bum is wiggling now too. You lean forward to stroke her, but instead you are met with delicate licks and more wagging, circling and jumping and just so much joy to see you – you know that she loves you fiercely. Once the excitement has settled, you are sniffed from top to toe so that she too has a glimpse of where you have been. She follows you room to room, smiling at you, wagging her tail every time you make eye contact. She has missed you all day, and will be your shadow for the rest of the day.
You pick up the car keys and signal that it’s “walk time” – she is ecstatic. She makes high pitched squeals of contentment and cannot contain her excitement. She jumps into the car without needing invitation and perches herself on the front seat next to you, sitting tall, she is ready to go.
At the park she runs freely, makes new friends and chases squirrels up the trees. She is in her element, her nostrils have not stopped twitching since she arrived, she is chasing new scents, she examines every fallen leaf with equal enthusiasm and takes in all the beauty that the world has to offer. Each mole heel is checked for moles, each pine cone is carried to a new destination, each stick is inspected and every water source is sampled. You allow yourself to live vicariously through this little creature, and just for that moment you realize how beautiful the world can be.
Once you finally get back home again, you look at your car window and notice the slug trails on your passenger window – “dog nose trail” – and you realize that you will leave it there as a reminder of the great day you just had.
After supper and once her little tummy is full, it’s all loves and snuggles until you both fall asleep to the sound of each other’s breathing, rhythmical and sweet, with the little fur child by your feet – and the world seems perfect.
If you love animals - then you must join our SPCA Ballroom Outreach! If you would like to make a difference, to speak out for, protect and care for animals, then this is the perfect opportunity. By just sharing a little of your free time with the SPCA in Grassy Park, you could get involved in a host of various activities. They have dog kennels (if you enjoy licks), a cattery, a horse care unit, a farm animal unit and even a wild life unit! And if you are afraid of being hands-on but are still keen to help, they host various events throughout the year that you could get involved in.
BECOME A VOLUNTEER INVOLVES 4 EASY STEPS
Please see website for more details:
https://www.facebook.com/CapeofGoodHopeSPCA- Liza Rossi
WHAT TO EXPECT FOR PUBLIC RELATIONS AND OUTREACH 2016
So here we go ladies and gentlemen!!! Public Relations and Outreach 2016... First and foremost we need a smile on every dancer’s face… that’s how we show the world that we love what we do. My job is to keep you in the jovial mood you want to be in to dance a good jive or a cheeky cha-cha - my personal obsession (…although it took me the whole year to accept it but YES!!).
This portfolio encompasses keeping everyone in the loop with what is happening in the society and around the dance world as a whole… so look out for me in class to keep you informed – I’m the tiny little guy with lots whose feet never stop dancing. This portfolio also involves keeping everyone informed about upcoming dance events, from our awesome must-attend socials to the really exciting and addictive Friday night Sokkies and the Sexy Salsa Sunday afternoons.
As for the Outreach bit (which comes after the PR on the title!)… this is the section that underpins the organising of occasions where UCT Ballroom goes out into society to give back, as well as carry out acts of kindness. However as a society we also love animals and would really like to help the local SPCA this year and have organised frequent visits for 2016. We value consistence as well and so we have started training individuals who are interested so that we do this more often and fly the UCT Latin and Ballroom Banner high. I look forward to seeing you out and about at UCT Ballroom events as we spread the Ballroom Bug to others!
- Takavarasha Desire Mugova
If you have never danced before, or if you have never been a part of a social dancing society like ours, then this page is a must-read. We understand that it could be a bit intimidating to get out on the dance floor… but once you’ve taken that step, you will find it difficult to get off! Here are some survival tips designed to help you make the most out of your dance experience.
So, you've been dancing for a few weeks. You've hung around to watch the more senior dancers strut their stuff in fancy dancing shoes. It might just be time for you to invest in your own pair, which will revolutionise how you dance, how you think of dancing and even how you walk wearing normal shoes.
For the girls out there – if you’ve been dancing in flats up until now, don’t stress about the extra height of a dancing heel. They are very stable (for the most part), and once you’ve learnt to dance in heels, you’ll be infinitely more graceful in stilettos or other taller ‘street shoes’. For the guys, this will be less of a change, but proper dancing shoes will make a massive difference to how you put your feet down, and how responsive the floor is to your steps.
WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT THEM?
Dancing shoes have suede soles, which mean that you have some grip on what would be an otherwise slippery wooden floor. We don’t want you doing the splits now! The heels of the girls’ shoes also often have a steel shank for added stability – useful for reducing wobbles. The soles of the shoes are often more supple than other shoes, allowing you to be precise in your placement of your toes, and more definite in getting your heels down in a jive.
When you go to buy a pair of shoes for the first time, it is important to buy the correct size – a well-fitted shoe should not be too tight (you’ll get BLISTERS like you can’t believe) or too loose (you might lose it…). So go for snug, but not too tight. A good shop assistant should be able to help you, and they should be able to order the right size for you even if it’s not in stock. You can also slightly modify the fit of a shoe using in-soles, which is useful if you have narrow feet or high arches.
There are three basic styles of shoes: Ballroom, Latin and Practice (usually only worn by teachers and professionals).
BALLROOM/LATINWhen buying your first pair of shoes, ladies should go for Latin shoes, and men should go for Ballroom shoes.
This is because the respective shoes are more versatile – Ladies, you can dance Ballroom and Latin in your Latin shoes (but you can’t dance Latin in Ballroom shoes, which are slightly differently shaped), and Gents, the classic Ballroom shoe is much easier to learn on than men’s Latin shoes.
Men’s ballroom shoes have a flatter heel than men’s Latin shoes, which come with something called a “Cuban heel”. It is far easier for men to learn on a lower heel – imagine learning to dance and learning to walk in what is in essence a low high heel as well! The Cuban heel (shown in the picture) is good for Latin, but makes ballroom significantly more difficult. There are a few variations in terms of style, but chiefly, they are simple, black lace-up Oxfords.
For the ladies, ballroom shoes (court shoe-style shoes) are only really useful for ballroom, so they lack the versatility of Latin shoes, which can be used for both. Latin heels are further back than ballroom heels, which push your weight onto your toes: exactly where you want it for having the most control. Woman’s Latin shoes are open at the sides, but aside from that, they come in a dizzying array of styles – sandals, closed-toe, spider-toe, T-bar strap… these are all decisions that you will have to make for yourself when you go to the shop. Heel height (2”, 2.5” or 3”), toe shape, and number of ankle straps are the choices with the most impact on personal comfort. 2” heels are recommended for taller women who don’t like heels, 2.5” flared heels are good for most beginners. 3” and slim heels are not recommended for beginners. Straps that come over the top of the foot (and not just around the ankle) will give you extra stability. Closed toes, rather than the open “sandal” style, will save your toes some battering, especially at first. It’s best to fit a few on before you decide which style feels comfortable and looks best for you.
The materials shoes are made from vary. Men’s shoes can be leather, imitation leather or patent (shiny ones). Leather ones would be more expensive, generally, but will last longer. Ladies’ shoes are generally made of leather or satin. Bear in mind that leather shoes will stretch (slightly) with wear.
CARING FOR YOUR SHOES
Caring for your shoes is simple. NEVER wear them outside, and keep them clean. Carry them to dancing in a bag (a net bag will reduce odors) and put them on when you’re on the dance floor. This will prevent them becoming overly dirty with external elements. On the dance floor, there can also be dust and floor wax, which can be brushed off using a wire brush. Dance shops stock these, but it is also possible to use a wire-bristled braai brush. It is recommended by several online sources that you should brush your suede from toe to heel. Once all the suede has been worn off, it is possible to have them resoled at some cobblers. The upper part of your shoes also needs some care – especially men’s leather shoes. Polish them to prevent them cracking. Ladies’ leather shoes can be wiped with polish too, but satin shoes require more care. The heel tips on ladies’ shoes will eventually wear out, which will expose the nail or steel shank. It is important to get worn out heels replaced at a cobbler, or else just buy heel protectors (at dance shops) and replace those.
SO WHAT'S THE DAMAGE?
Price-wise… well, this is an investment. A good pair of shoes will last you longer than a year if you look after them, and you will get much pleasure out of them in the form of a better dancing experience. The price of your new shoes will vary depending on the style and make of shoe, but usually falls within the range of R200 – R1000. A good pair of entry level shoes should cost you about R400.
Keep plasters in your dancing bag – new shoes have been known to leave horrible blisters for the first bit, until your feet get used to them and they get used to your feet. In no time at all, however, you will be strutting your stuff, and wondering how you ever managed in ‘normal-people-shoes.’
New Varsity experiences have always been an overwhelming thought. Hell, Varsity itself is an overwhelming thought! You are all alone in this gigantic city-like space with no one to help you but your good old self. For me it was a scary thought as I was extremely comfortable in my small home town with my home friends.
I was the only one out of my circle of friends to go off to university. So upon my arrival I felt very much alone. O-Week was a very exciting experience as I got to see all of sort of societies that sparked my interests. I struggled to find something perfect for me, so I signed up for a lot of societies, ballroom of course being one of them. The free lessons were an amazing experience as I got to see the gist of where the society would take me without having to worry about the costs. So I jumped on the dance train and here I am 1 year later with all my expectations blown away.
The key elements I can take away from my joy ride are all the amazing friends I made. My progression and ability to get better at my dance always came second. For the first time in my life, coming from an independent background, I found myself depending on someone else – and I have grown very fondly proud of my dance partner.
Medal Test was the first event testing our wits when it came to everything we had learnt in dance classes. The constant practicing for this event was a great deal of fun and made my bonds with my friends very strong. Medal Tests gave me my first sense of reward in my dance career and nothing topped that until we travelled to intervarsity.
The hype of the year had everyone excited and in hysterics, as Intervarsity followed this in August. Shaking with nerves and scared of the competition, we as beginners were very intimidated. After the first round of ballroom and Latin, we all pretty much made it through and the adrenaline of the competition just got real. At the end of the day we came second and the team spirit filled up the bus on the way home.
Following an explosive weekend of dance was our annual Showcase, where we would all show off our moves in choreographed numbers. Showcase was definitely the most time consuming event, and practice and dedication were most important. However, the feeling of performing something that you have worked hard for in a partnership was something I started to get addicted to.
The constant action and activity of being involved in the society is impressive … considering that I had joined 5 other societies! However, I must admit, from a non-biased point of view, that the ballroom society was truly worth my money. The monthly socials were an awesome way to make plenty of friends who were also eager to meet me. I must say that I was also quite lucky to have such an active bunch of friends who were always so eager meet up outside of ballroom.
The most extravagant event was by far the formal. We all got to dress up super formal and spend an entire night of dance. The venue was decorated to its fullest and the food was to die for. I found it extremely funny how much food the girls were able to stomach, and still go back for dessert!
All in all I can say that this year has been an adventure varsity wise. I have had extremely exciting peaks and very stressful valleys. I always had ballroom as a stress escape that enabled me to just forget about varsity as a whole. The feeling of belonging is something rare to find in a society, and the Ballroom and Latin Society definitely had it for me. I had an amazing year experience and cannot wait to run off to the Ballroom stand in O-Week and sign up for another amazing year of adventure!
- Grant Wilson (2016)
There are so many reasons you SHOULD NOT do ballroom dancing, but let’s just stick to the important ones.
1. You are too sexy. - Good-looking, charming, smart, funny, talented, rich… Your positive traits are really too numerous to list. Ballroom dancing would really make you less marketable on the singles’ scene since your perfection would only intimidate potential mates. Learning the social and entertaining skill of ballroom dancing will only clog your already-over-scheduled calendar with dates. And really? You do not need any more compliments or attention from the opposite sex.
2. You love the idea of mental deterioration. - I’m no doctor, but studies show that the movement, patterning, social interaction, and creative thinking involved in the ballroom lead to a measurably lower risk of dementia (including Alzheimer’s). But maybe your kids will really annoy you and you’d like to forget about them as soon as possible.
3. Your enviable physique needs to involve grunting and torturous - looking machines, “sets”, “miles”, and nobody that’s pretty to look at or smells good. Ballroom dancing (and the practice of all of its finer techniques) could never give you culpted abs, ripped back and shoulders, toned legs, and a tight caboose while being totally enjoyable and not feeling like a work out at all.
4. Your relationship is so EN FUEGO - there is no need to stoke the flame of passion between you and your partner. I mean, any more animal magnetism between you and your lover would just make people uncomfortable. Plus, what’s so great about moving rhythmically with your special someone in your arms… like one does on the dance floor?
5. You have no fears or challenges left unconquered. - Fear of imperfection, public performance, and losing? You totally nailed those in high school! Learning a new skill, overcoming a big goal, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone? Personal growth is for losers! Your life is perfect, just the way it is!
Don’t get involved with ballroom dancing. You’ll only make new friends, have a fun hobby, get in shape, feel great, and expand your horizons.
I’m just a sarcastic writer / professional ballroom dancer, so please don’t take my word for any sort of legitimate medical advice.