Chapter 2: Learning To Dance

[Note: book sections not presented on this website are titled and summarized in italics.]

How To Learn Well

Learning to dance is much like learning a musical instrument, only easier. This section offers some tips that may accelerate your dance training and help you become a better dancer.

Pointers On Leading And Following

Your dance instructor should teach you not only the steps to each dance figure, but also how to lead or follow your partner. Here's some advice on technique for leading and following. If a point is unclear, please consult your teacher.

Leaders And Followers



The Essence of Leading and Following

It takes instruction and practice to learn to how dance steps well. However, the essence of leading and following the figures is simple. To paraphrase the advice given by the King of Hearts to the White Rabbit--"begin at the beginning; go on till you come to the end; then stop"--the follower begins to move when led to move, and stops when led to stop. That is, the follower neither starts nor stops on her own. The leader must signal the motion of his body to the follower, while the follower feels and watches the motion of the leader's body (not of his feet!) for direction.

Further Reading

You can find more information (and other people's opinions) on leading and following in the extensive Lead and Follow FAQ compiled from internet contributors.

Learn Two (Or More) Dances For The Price Of One

You may have noticed that certain steps are found in more than one dance. This section compares similar dances, such as Waltz and Foxtrot, and explains how you can transplant the figures that you've learned from one dance to another. It also answers the often-debated question of whether salsa and mambo are the same dance.

Technique Tips For Specific Figures And Dances

Learn how to make your corte (dip) sexy and safe and make your Nightclub Two Step smooth and graceful. Includes tips on stalling for time in Tango, leading and following in West Coast Swing, improving your swingout in Lindy Hop, and dancing in time to the music in Cha Cha and Rumba.

Beyond Ballroom: Growing As A Dancer

The American and International styles of ballroom dancing are great, but there's much to be learned from other partner and solo dances, such as Argentine Tango, Lindy Hop, Tap, and Jazz. Discusses what these other dances have to offer, and how they can improve your musicality, connection, balance, and/or body control.