Tips For A Better Group Class Experience
Group classes are one of the many avenues for learning that we provide here at Arthur Murray. For some, this can be scary for your first time and for experienced dancers it may feel somewhat repetitive. Newcomers sometimes worry that they will be the slowest learner in the class or that they will somehow embarrass themselves in front of their “expert” classmates. Advanced students can fall into the “been there, done that” pit when it comes to group classes and feel as if they do not gain anything new from attending a class for the umpteenth time. I’d like to take this time to give you a little insight into group classes and why we never grow out of them.
First I’d like to start with some group class etiquette:
The first rule of group classes is BE ON TIME! Missing out on even the first five minutes of group class can set you back for the rest of the time and you will feel a little confused at what’s going on. Some of the most important information is given during those first five minutes.
1.Rotate partners. I know you love your spouse/significant other and are here to dance with them and only them. What if I told you the fastest way to dance well together is to try dancing with other people every now and again? Switching partners allows you to grow in ways you couldn’t by dancing with just one person. It will help develop your lead/follow, balance, and understanding of the step. Then, when you get back together it will be like you were both zapped into slightly better dancers than when you last danced.
2.If you don’t know the person you’re dancing with, introduce yourself! Chances are that they’re new and probably feeling a little uneasy. Smile and encourage them. You would have wanted that at your first group class, wouldn’t you?
3.Pay attention to the teacher! You would think this was an obvious one, but I’ve taught many a group class and we teachers know who’s listening and who’s not. Many times we’ll throw in tips especially for you so take everything into account, even if you’re an advanced student in a Newcomer class. You never know when the perfect nugget of information will come.
4.Don’t point out other’s mistakes. Your teachers are fully aware of who’s getting it and who’s not. Try not to embarrass your classmates in any way.
5. Last, but definitely not least, make sure you have clean hands and fresh breath. Nobody wants to dance with someone and know exactly what they had for lunch that day or catch a cold. Also don’t forget to smell nice! Trust me, you’ll get more dance partners this way.
So now that we know a little better how to conduct ourselves in group class, I’d like to address why we recommend going to your group classes. Some of these were mentioned above, others are new:
1.Lather, rinse, repeat! Group classes are your time to drill your patterns so that you can spend your time on the private lessons working on the techniques and refining your dancing.
2.Increased balance! Group classes are designed for the students to practice the steps on their own and with many different people. This helps you to develop balance because you don’t always have someone to hang on to as you dance and you are able to do your part without throwing your partner off or relying too heavily on them to get through it.
3.Make new friends! By following my etiquette tips above, you can’t help but meet new people. Those people you meet will also be at the practice parties we have so you don’t have to go into them wondering who you’re going to dance with. Also, you will see yourself begin to feel like a part of the “Arthur Murray Family.” We hear people say, “this is my happy place”, and we take great pride in knowing this.
4.Learn steps faster! In the group classes, it’s likely that you’ll dance with a teacher or an advanced student. Doing a new pattern with someone who already knows it will help you get a feel for it and develop the correct timing.
5.Understand which song goes to which dance! Learning to recognize what kind of dance to do to each song takes practice. What better way to learn what rumba music sounds like than 40 minutes of hearing nothing but rumba songs!
6.Bonus for the advanced students: practice your technique! It’s easier to practice concepts like Cuban motion in a group class that just does basic steps. You’ll be able to concentrate more effectively on your footwork or rise and fall or whatever it may be when you don’t have to think about the patterns. Just ask the teachers which steps they use to practice their own technique! They’ll tell you it’s the basics.
There are many benefits to going to group classes and as we mentioned before, you never outgrow them. What have you gained from going to group class?
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