How Social Dances Help Your Competitive Technique

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Anna Lebiedzińska

Social dancing has long suffered from a ‘lazy dancing’ stigma, lacking technique and precision. Many dancers I’ve talked to consider the thought of dancing a salsa or bachata ‘boring’, or worse, bad for their technique. However, there ARE a number of ways you can improve your dancing with the nightclub styles – and we’re going to talk about them today.

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I should mention that social dancing is not the best fit for everyone. For example, if you are a competitive dancer who needs to create more snap in your hips, social dancing might pull you in the opposite direction. However, if your instructor or coach has uttered any of the following phrases to you, there’s a good chance that something here will help:

Anna Lebiedzińska
Anna Lebiedzińska

1. ‘You need to loosen up your hips.’

The relaxed quality of the nightclub styles is great for improving your range of motion in your hip action. Merengue, bachata, kizomba, and salsa all focus on fluid continuous movement in your midsection, adding extra sensuality to your competitive cha cha or rumba routine.

Anna Lebiedzińska
Anna Lebiedzińska

2. ‘You need to increase your variety of steps.’

Great as the syllabus steps are, there may come a time when they feel a bit *ahem* limited. By contrast, new steps are being created in the social club scene everyday, allowing you to produce creative numbers the judges haven’t seen before.

Anna Lebiedzińska
Anna Lebiedzińska

3. ‘Improve your sense of spontaneity.’

Perhaps nothing separates the social scene from the competitive dance floor more than the effortlessness by which the former adapts to changing conditions. Accents in the music, other couples who move in too close, and spilled drinks on the floor are all just opportunities to improve your ability to respond to the unexpected. So when you get a bump from your competitive rival, you can not only recover gracefully, but make it part of the dance as well.

Anna Lebiedzińska
Anna Lebiedzińska

4. ‘You need to become more sensitive to your partner.’

Because many of the nightclub styles – notably bachata and kizomba – are danced more closely, this gives you an opportunity to actually feel what’s happening in your partner’s body in response to your lead or follow. In addition, kizomba and Argentine tango both require very subtle weight transfers and body rotation to convey information, so you can guide and respond to each other with half the effort.

Anna Lebiedzińska
Anna Lebiedzińska

5. ‘You should improve your musicality.’

No social dance is the same – because the music is always changing! Just watching the experienced Latinos dance can tell you a lot about how to express different parts of a song – not just with dips and lifts (the latter of which you shouldn’t even try socially). Following looser rules than the competitive world, there’s no shortage of potential accents you can adapt to your latest routine.

Anna Lebiedzińska
Anna Lebiedzińska

6. ‘You just need more practice!’

Finally, if you need a combination of the above, what more fun way to improve on them than by going to a social party? You can expand your contact list, gain some new perspectives on the dancing universe, all while improving your look in the competitive scene. So get out and have fun!

Author: Ian Crewe – SocialBallroom.Dance
Photography: Anna Lebiedzińska
Exclusively for Dance Comp Review

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