Here is a guest post from Diana Turetsky (my own sister!) from beehappy blog. Enjoy!
There are many reasons to dance. Exercise, better coordination, the excitement of competition, challenging oneself, socializing, romance, looking good for your first wedding dance and so on and so forth. The important thing is to recognize why you want to learn to dance because that will help you find the environment that is right for you. There are studios that focus on the exercise aspect and offer plenty of zumba and sweat-enhancing-line-dancing classes. If you want to compete, look for a teacher who is active in the competitive arena and knows what it’s like to be a participant both from the pro and the amateur’s perspective. If you want to socialize, obviously choose a studio with many group classes and events rather than focus on private lessons only. Knowing your reasons for dancing (or for doing anything) can be the difference between enjoying it and seeing it as a chore and it will help you get the most out of the experience.
In our case, we started taking lessons to spend more time together that didn’t involve eating. This might sound strange at first, seeing as our reason for taking dance lessons didn’t actually involve wanting to learn how to dance, but think about it for a minute. When you start dating someone (and not living with them) what do you spend most of your time together doing? You go to dinner, you go to the theater, you watch movies, you go for drinks or coffee, even if you go bowling these are all activities where you do a lot of sitting and eating. Our relationship did not revolve around being physically active, we did not meet at the gym, and we do not work out together even now. With the exception of a walk now and then our dates were sedentary. I started looking for an activity that we could do together, that would be fun and active, we tried rock climbing (which we still do occasionally) and some other things but one of the problems was that we weren’t really doing these things together. Yes, we were doing them at the same time, but that’s not the same. Dancing, not surprisingly, is one of the few activities we’ve found
where you really truly do it together.
When we started dancing we realized that we actually really enjoyed it, but true to our reason, we enjoyed it because we were spending time together. If you saw us during a typical lesson you’d see that we’d both come from different directions tired after school or work (we were still finishing up classes part time). In the 45 minute timeframe we would forget why we were tired, we would joke and laugh, we would hug and kiss and playfully shove each other. We found a teacher who understood that the reason we were there was first and foremost to enjoy our time together and so he didn’t push us to practice separately or take individual lessons (it was suggested but quickly nixed). At first our teacher was concerned that if we don’t progress at a certain speed or don’t reach certain levels we would get bored or frustrated – and indeed that is the case for many people who want to learn how to dance – but all three of us soon recognized that in our case not focusing on fun would make dancing boring and frustrating.
Knowing exactly why you are dancing is also the first step in finding an instructor who will support you in getting the most out of it. Whether you are doing it for exercise or to pick up girls at bars, your teacher needs to be aware of these reasons. He/she is an integral part of your dancing experience, especially if you’re taking private lessons. In our case we were able to find a teacher who we both thought was fun. He shared Greg’s sense of humour, he didn’t mind it when we got off track joking around and he knew enough about our industries that we could have a conversation with him about things other than dancing. He also didn’t mind our lack of commitment. Many teachers would not be happy with students who were taking lessons for years and hardly getting to bronze level. I understand how as a teacher that can be quite frustrating. But our instructor knew that was the case and he knew better than to pressure
us to improve our habits.
Whether you’re dancing, working, studying or playing, it is important to know why you’re doing what you’re doing. Reasons can be honorable or they can be trivial. You don’t always need to know them right away, and your reasons do not have to stay rigid as you learn and progress, but being self aware in any activity from brushing your teeth to jumping out of an airplane with a parachute will help you know whether you’re doing what’s right for you and whether you are getting as much out of the experience as you can be getting.