Monday, March 17, 2003

DanceSport 101

About a year and a half ago I woke up with a wild hair and thought I'd try something different. I couldn't afford to go to another planet, so I settled for ballroom dance.

It wasn't quite what I expected. As I learned more several things stood out. Of course it's sociable. If you need to you can start really easy (moving slowly, low impact), but you can turn it into a very strenuous workout if you like. You can make it as informal or formal as you like, and you can do it pretty much for your whole life. If you're a showoff it's a great opportunity. You can even turn it into a profession, and maybe one day compete in the Olympics with it. What could be wrong with that?

But it isn't you, eh Stud? Sounds a little, um, light in the loafers, like with the hockey player turned figure skater in "The Cutting Edge"? Well, if dancing is enough to threaten you then you already have issues - get over it.

If you don't live too far out in the sticks you can probably learn some basics with swing, cha-cha, foxtrot and waltz. If nothing else, they can help to fend off disaster in social events you might have been avoiding. It's not uncommon for some clubs to offer free salsa or swing lessons at the beginning of the evening, so if you're adventurous enough you can just show up and cut loose.

Dance studios often offer group lessons for various dances. Here in St. Louis, Just Dancing offers these for rumba, foxtrot, waltz, swing (east and west coast) and others at various times of the week (also tap, hip hop, ethnic and other stuff).

Then there are private lessons. It's not cheap, but for some of us it's the right way to go, especially if you're intending to get serious about it.

You can also take part in competitions. In these the contestants are divided into several skill levels and age groups for each type of dance. The organizers play appropriate music for a minute or two, the contestants dance, and professional judges assess them.

The competitions might include people competing for scholarships or professionals building resumes. If you think dancing isn't worthy of the Olympics, just watch for a while. That's what I was doing last week while I was away from blogging - I was watching and participating in the St. Louis Star Ball that I've been plugging. (How did I do? Well, I won't be turning pro just yet...).

So what are the dances? Stick around - more will be coming later.

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