I've always enjoyed watching dance movies. Some of my favorite scenes are where the main character loses themselves in a solo dance. Whether it be Gene Kelly and his solo act in Singing In The Rain, Doug's Tearful Waltz in Strictly Ballroom or Mr. Sugiyama practicing in the streets of Japan in the movie Shall We Dance. It's like the work out montage we've seen in every 80's movie. The premise is simple. Work hard on your own and the result is a stronger better version of you. If that's the case, then you have a recipe for greatness and the best part is, you don't need a partner.
Of course, ballroom dancing is a team sport between you and your partner, however there are some key things you want to be aware of. Practicing on your own is one othem. Here are five top reasons why practicing on your own is important to your learning process.
In my neighborhood, there are some baby trees being put up. They are usually flanked with some wood poles staked to the ground. This is for support. Eventually the seedling will grow and won't need the support, but for now it's a precautionary measure. Learning ot dance is similar. As a new dancer you're balance isn't as great and that's why you have your instructor. But at some point you'll need to get rid of the support. Practing your dancing on your own helps that process go by faster. If you know your part, you won't need the help. In the end, you'll be a stronger partner as a result.
Ever drive home one day and figure out how you got there? You don't remember the traffic lights or the sights. You just remember pulling up in the driveway and opening the door to your home. That's the beauty of repetition. When you do something on your own over and over again, your body remembers so that when the brain can't think, it's the muscles that take action. That's muscle memory. You'll thank me later the next time you dance and can only remember getting off the floor. What happened? Don't worry, you did Awesome!
3. MUSCLE CONTROL
As a dancer growing up, my wife Cari, learned a lot about how to use her legs and feet. When we would compete, most judges and spectators would comment at how great her footwork was. In fact they noticed her more than I (rightfully so). And when we would dance, I would be amazed at how I could spin her 20 times in a row and she could stop on a dime. Amazing! She would focus at least an hour a day on working her feet and legs to strengthen them. It paid off in the end. She's an amazing dancer as a result.
4. BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR ROLE
As a leader, I was always interested in the patterns. New and cool ways to make the lady turn or move. It fed my creativity. However, whenever I would try them out on my wife, she would normally be off balance. That's when I realized the meaning of the picture and the frame. If the lead is the frame and the follow is the picture, they must match. You can't have a pretty pitcure with an ugly frame. It just doesn't go. I had to work on what I was doing and where she was going before I even got in contact with her. I quickly learned that as a leader you have to take care of the follower. Otherwise, they won't trust me and I'd be left danceless. That's not fun. Better to go with the alternative. Off to practice!
This comes standard to the dancer that knows what they're doing. It's easy to ask a person to dance or accept an invitation at a random wedding, cruise, night club or cobblestone street knowing that you know your part. A good dancer can walk into any dance situtation and have their mind at ease. The only worry that comes to mind, is whether or not you brought the right dance shoes.
If you aren't convinced already, here's another truth. Pros practice their dancing on their own all the time. That's what makes them such good dancers. The Dance Math never lies. The formula goes as follows: You+Me=WE. If you can do your part to a great ability and I can do my part to a great ability, imagine what we could do together. And that's what a dance partnership is. Two people coming together to dance as one. Sure, sometimes one of us is going to fall or stumble, but the other is strong enough to pick us back up. Only because, you've practiced your part so well on your own, you have the strength to do so.