Learn Dance in 5 ways

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Hate being the one in the corner of the room while everyone else is enjoying themselves on the dance floor? Have an event coming up that will require you to step out to the beat? If a little crisis of confidence or some uncertainty about how to move is keeping you from joining the fun, look no further than this article for what you need to know to spin, step and strut the night away in style!


Method 1 of 5: Dancing Freestyle

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    Bob your head. Start by understanding the beat in your head to get how the music is. If it helps, count 1, 2, 3, 4 in your head.

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    Shift your weight. Shift all of your weight to one foot. You can lift the other foot slightly off the ground to make sure all your weight is off of it.

    • At every other count (preferably 1 to 3) shift your weight completely to the other foot. You can also shift your weight at every single count, but starting out slowly will help you get comfortable before you begin dancing fast.
    • Keep your legs loose and bend your knees slightly; there should be just a little bit of “bounce” to your weight shifts, and a subtle bounce (in place) on the counts when you aren’t shifting your weight as well.
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    Move your feet. Once you’re shifting your weight to the rhythm, begin moving your feet. Right before you shift your weight to a foot, move it slightly, even just an inch or two from where it was before. When you move your foot, keep it fairly close to the ground.

    • If you’re dancing with someone else, be sure to move around in a way that accommodates your partner without stepping on him or her.
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    Add some hip action. When you put your weight on a foot, move your hips (and your body) slightly in the direction of that foot. If you shift your weight onto your right foot, for example, move your hips to the right. You can twist your body slightly to add a little more movement. For example, when you move to the right, put your right shoulder forward a little and left shoulder back vice versa for when you move to the left.

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    Move your arms. If you’re uncomfortable, the tendency is to keep your arms close or to let them hang limp. Instead, move your arms around. Keep your hands open or in very loose fists. You can put your arms in the air or at 90 degree angles at your sides (like when you’re running)or try one of the arm moves listed below. Whatever you do, don’t get stuck on just one move; keep switching it up.

    • Roll the dice. Make a loose fist and shake your arm and hand as though you are shaking a pair of dice for a roll. After a few shakes, “roll” the dice. Don’t overuse this move to the point that it becomes comical. (More commonly used by men).
    • Mow the lawn. Bend forward and with one hand grasp the starter of an imaginary lawn mower. Pull your hand back as though you’re pulling on the string to start the mower. Once you get it going, you can take a few steps while you mow the lawn. This move requires a certain amount of confidence to pull off, but it’s a lot of fun and can bring a smile or a laugh to those dancing around you. (More commonly used by men).
    • Swing an air lasso. Grab an imaginary lasso and swing it above your head as though you’re about to rope a cow. Shift your weight to the foot opposite your “lasso hand” and thrust your hips in that direction. (More commonly used by women).
    • Pump your fist. Make a fist and then make a pumping motion overhead in a celebratory fashion. (Best used when attending a concert).


Method 2 of 5: Slow Dancing with a Partner

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    Get lined up. Rather than lining up directly in front one another, position yourselves so that the center of the woman’s chest lines up with the inside of the man’s right shoulder.

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    Position the arms. The man should place his right hand flat on the small of the woman’s back and hold his left hand out to the side at chest level. The woman should place her left hand the man’s shoulder, raise her arm to chest level and extend her hand out to the right to hold her partner’s hand. Hands should be interlocked like two C’s rather than held with fingers intertwined.

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    Leave some space. A good guidelines is three to six inches of distance between you to your partner. Be sure your arms are relaxed with a comfortable bend in the elbow and your knees are soft rather than locked.

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    Begin moving. The man is meant to lead in a slow dance, so gentlemen should begin by shifting all weight to the right foot. Then every time the music hits the “one” of a four-count beat, shift your weight to the other foot. As your weight shifts, pick up the opposite foot and put it down in a slightly different spot so that you don’t stay rooted to just one location for the duration of the dance. Move clockwise.


Method 3 of 5: Dancing at a Wedding

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    Chicken Dance. The Chicken Dance is a staple of many wedding receptions. It’s easy to do because there are just three basic moves, and you change them in time with the music. This is a very low-pressure dance–no one cares if you mess up. It’s called the Chicken Dance after all; don’t take it too seriously.

    • Raise your arms shoulder level and line your thumbs up with your index fingers to create a shape that resembles a chicken’s beak. Move your thumbs up and down to simulate a chicken clucking.
    • Then, ball up your hands and tuck your fists under your arms as though you have wings. Flap your wings up and down in time to the music.
    • With your wings still in place, continue flapping but now stick out your backside, bend your knees and wiggle your bottom down toward the floor.
    • Repeat these moves over and over until the song ends.
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    The Hora. The hora is danced at many traditional Jewish wedding receptions to the song “Hava Nagila.” The hora simply involves dancing in what’s known as a “grapevine” pattern.

    • Step the left foot across to the right. Let the right foot follow. Step the left foot in back of the right. Follow again with the right. That’s it; that’s the grapevine.
    • This dance is performed in a circle with dancers either holding hands or throwing their arms over one another’s shoulders. The tempo of this dance is typically fast; sometimes the music starts slowly, and the band speeds up the tempo as the song goes along.
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    Dollar Dance. Also known as the money dance or the apron dance, wedding guests line up and pay a dollar (or more) to dance with the wedding couple. In some cases, men dance with the bride, and women dance with the groom; other times, both men and women dance with the bride. You can follow the basic slow dance instructions for this dance, but it’s really not about the moves; it’s about having a few moments with the bride or groom to express your happiness for the couple and compliment the wedding ceremony and reception. Holding on and simply swaying in place is perfectly acceptable if it makes it easier to have a personal conversation.


Method 4 of 5: Getting All the Right Moves

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    Take a dance class. There are dance classes for every style of dancing from hip-hop to ballet, break dancing to salsa. Search online for the classes in your area. Whatever style of dance you’re interested in, you could probably benefit from a ballroom dancing class as the steps of many other dance styles have their roots in some ballroom basics.

    • When you are being taught a routine, look at what the teacher is doing. Try to copy it exactly. If it doesn’t work, watch the teacher again and look for the little things he or she does that make it easier. Go ahead and and ask your instructor for tips; experienced instructors have worked with hundreds of students and have ideas that can help you overcome whatever it is you’re finding to be difficult.
    • Even a few hours of class time can help you learn the basics and build your confidence.
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    Join a flash mob. A flash mob is a spontaneous public performance–usually a dance–that appears seemingly out of nowhere and then disappears just as quickly. While these dance performances may seem spontaneous, the truth is that they’re usually fairly well rehearsed in advance. You can find flash mobs online, join them for a several-week rehearsal period as the group learns a dance and then perform with the mob in public. Flash mobs welcome people of all skill levels; their focus is on having fun and creating a joyful scene, so the more people who participate, the better. You’ll also learn some great dance moves and connect with people who also enjoy dancing.

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    Watch dancing on TV. Dancing is a wildly popular activity, and you can get plenty of exposure to it just by watching TV. Tune into reality television dance-competition shows. Focusing on the steps might be a bit challenging. Instead, pay attention to how loose the dancers are, how much confidence they display and how much fun it looks like they’re having on the dance floor.

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    Rent a classic dance movie. There are so many dance movies to choose from; see as many as you can or pick and choose those that speak to your particular interests.

    • Developing confidence. Check out “Dirty Dancing” or “Shall We Dance” to watch two dance novices develop confidence and grace and learn to perform with pizzazz.
    • Finding your inner dance rebel. Watch “Footloose” or “Flashdance” to see the power of dance as a form of defiance against uptight authority figures and personal circumstances.
    • Moving with grace–Rent anything starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. They are the embodiment of grace and elegance not to mention great role models for how to move with a partner.
    • Developing an attitude. Look no further than John Travolta’s performance in “Saturday Night Fever” for dance floor confidence that wins the girl and the admiration of the crowd. You might want to do a Travolta movie marathon and pick up “Grease,” or “Staying Alive” .
    • Coming into your own. When Tom Cruise slides across the floor in an oxford shirt and gym socks in “Risky Business,” he kicks off a song-and-dance number that’s a carefree celebration of how good it feels to move to the music. Let it inspire you to lose yourself in a great tune and make up some dance moves that just feel good to you.
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    Attend a dance competition. Ballroom dancing competition, officially known as DanceSport, are held all over the world. Check online for a competition near you. Check out websites such as the International Grand Ball, United States Dance Championships and the Access Dance Network to name just a few.


Method 5 of 5: Dressing to Dance

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    Put on your boogie shoes. Choose a shoe with a flexible, thin sole for the dance floor. Stay away from platform shoes; that thick sole and heel make it difficult to feel the floor. Be sure, too, that your feet feel secure in you shoes. Backless sandals are best left at home. Do not wear sneakers or other shoes with rubbery or sticky soles. At best, you’ll risk looking a bit herky-jerky in your movements; at worst you may find yourself with a twisted ankle or tweaked-out knee.

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    Make sure you can move. Tight jeans might look great, but they can inhibit your moves on the dance floor, and one wrong move could leave you with an embarrassing rip. Stay away, too, from tops or shirts that fit low in the armhole; they make it harder to move. Try on your outfit at home to be sure you can dance with ease.

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    Be prepared for the heat. If you tend to perspire, choose garments made of natural fibers. Women, tank tops and halter tops can look great, but sweaty or clammy skin could be a turn off if a partner asks you to dance. Drop a pack of moist towelettes and a travel-size powder in your purse so you can freshen up when needed.



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