When I first started to learn how to partner dance I thought it wasn’t for me. I found it very hard to adjust to being led, where traditionally the male dancer leads his female partner around the floor and he dictates the steps that the pair will do. Having danced my whole life by myself, it felt quite alien to have to hold onto to someone, let know being told what to do! However, over time I have fallen in love with this style and now regularly teach private partner Charleston lessons.
Over the past few months, I have been working with a few different couples. Some have focused on traditional 1920s Charleston where we cover each week different steps and techniques. With another couple, I have been working on their first dance for their wedding. A romantic ballad with simple partner steps.
Having worked with many couples, you begin to spot common things that people find tricky. If you are wanting to start to partner dance or you have just started, here are my 5 (and a half) tips which you can add to your personal practice.
1. Have a strong frame - Frame is vital, not only in partner Charleston dancing but, in any genre. It’s how the dancers are connected and move as one. If you have a weak frame it becomes impossible for the two dancers to know what is coming next as partner dancing is all about responding to each other’s signals.
2. Keep eye contact - Eye contact is everything in partner dancing, if you can’t look your partner in the face how are you going to be able to read what is going to be next. Sometimes it does feel a bit weird staring at someone you have just met in a social situation but don’t let it put you off and enjoy being in the moment.
3. Take decisive steps - If you are the lead and commit to a turn, a walk or change of direction, you must be clear in your move so the follow understands your decision. If you are too timid the follow cannot guess what move you are trying to do. Equally, the follow must respond with a decisive move too.
4. Practicing switching roles - If you have a regular dance partner, try switching roles to see what it is like for other dancer. This technique will also help you work on your frame and the signals you give to each other for each move.
5. Listen to the music - Find your groove with the song and try your best to dance to the beat of the track. When you lock in with the music, the dance becomes a lot easier and more enjoyable for the both of you.
Oh and my final piece of advice, is to remember to laugh and embrace mistakes! Learning to partner dance is all about the enjoyment of learning to dance with someone special, so if things go wrong it doesn’t matter as practice makes perfect.
If you would like to find out more about booking private lessons or need help with your first dance just fill in the enquiry form below.