Dance Talk Blog

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Welcome to Pattie Wells’ DANCE TALK BLOG, a series of dance articles focusing on social partner dance genres including the history, technique, kinesiology and psychology of social partner dancing. Pattie combines expertise in dance and writing to share this blog with you.
Updated: 2 years 33 weeks ago

What dance should I learn first?

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 6:12pm
What dance should I learn first? Read the complete answer here!

Having taught partner dancing for almost four decades, I have been asked this same question hundreds of times. I will briefly answer this question for partner genres of dancing like American style ballroom including rhythm and smooth, East & West Coast swing dance, Latin dances including salsa, bachata and merengue and Argentine tango. I will also  provide some links for further reading.

Many people have the privilege of starting dance lessons as children, training in ballet, jazz and tap. Nothing is cuter than a group of toddlers dancing the yellow, ducky dance as their first performance. My nieces had this fantastic opportunity to perform and acquire grace and coordination at a ballet school as children, pre-teens and teenagers. This head start in learning dance makes it easier to pick up new dance genres throughout ones life.

Many of us, however, started later. I started learning formal dance in college with ballet and jazz classes. Later, in my mid-twenties, I walked into a ballroom dance studio and began training in partner dancing and also was mentored in dance teaching by many experienced and even famous dancers. After three years training and teaching in a ballroom dance studio in San Diego, California, I branched out on my own and have continued to run my own teaching company since 1980.

I recommend starting with one of these dance genres if you have never danced before and/or have no musical background:

Recommended for newcomers to dance!

East Coast Swing/Jitterbug  (Read more about East Coast Swing here)
American style Waltz (box step, etc.)
American style Foxtrot (walking steps)
American style Rumba (box step, breaks)
Merengue (Latin walking steps)
Salsa Dance (Club Latin dance with Basics, Turns)

Recommended after the fundamentals of dance have been learned.
I recommend these dance genres after one has acquired a few basic concepts including the concepts of rock steps (breaking action), walking steps (forward & back) and triple steps (three weighted steps for two beats of music).

West Coast Swing (Read more about West Coast Swing here)
Argentine Tango (walking and rock steps)
Hustle  Dancing (either L.A. style or N.Y. style using rocks & walking steps)
Night Club 2 Step (side steps and break steps)
American style Cha cha (triples steps and rock steps)

Additional Recommended Dance Genres.
There are a variety of other dance genres to pick up in each of the major groups of partner dances as follows:

Swing Dance (Read about the swing dance styles here)
Lindy Hop
East Coast Swing (triple)
Carolina Shag
St. Louis Shag
Balboa
Charleston

* Read the Differences between Lindy, East & West Coast swing and Jitterbug here.

American Ballroom:
Viennese waltz
Tango
Samba
Bolero
Mambo

International Style:
Latin Dances include Samba, Cha Cha, Rumba, Jive and Paso Doble
Standard includes: Foxtrot, Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Quickstep

Club Latin:
Bachata
Swango

Blues Dance:
Improvisational dance to blues music

Country Western Dance:
Country Western 2-Step
C&W Waltz
C&W Cha Cha
Cowboy cha cha
C&W Polka
Pony Swing
Rodeo Swing

The questions of why humans dance and when it started will be featured in future blogs and articles. Please check back and read more articles by Pattie Wells here.





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