When you know more than your partner

This is one scenario we see over and over in our classes. One partner already knows how to dance, the other partner is a rank beginner. It either goes really well, or it’s a disaster. Want your experience to go well, and not be a disaster?? Keep reading.

What makes this situation so hard is that it’s very tempting for the person who already knows how to dance to want to help their partner. This “help” often takes the form of giving LOTS of feedback, like “you’re supposed to…” If the experienced dancer is a follower, she often will just perform the steps she’s supposed to, without waiting for her partner to lead them (aka “backleading”).

It’s understandable to want to help – of course you want to help! But what’s challenging is that the help your partner most needs is for you to stand back a bit and wait for them to catch up. There’s no rushing the learning process with dancing – students need time for their muscles to remember what they’re supposed to be doing.

The main hindrance in learning to dance is the human brain – our brains just get in the way so often when we’re learning to dance – and having to process verbal directions – or criticism – or react to backleading actually slows the whole process down.

I LOVE it when folks who already know how to dance bring newcomers to our classes or dances. That’s what swing dancing is all about – bringing in new, unsuspecting victims! The hard part is toning down your own enthusiasm for spreading the swing dancing love while you let the new dancer learn at their own pace.


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