KISS….Keep It Simple Silly…or alternately…what can happen when you drift to the right out of proper dance frame and find yourself toes to toes, knees to knees and …lips to lips with your dance partner!
So since the second option is pretty obvious (although the mechanism of how we got there sometimes isn’t), let’s contemplate the first option!
I’ll admit that I am not a step junkie. If fact, quite the opposite and much to the irritation of several coaches and a couple of dance partners, I really don’t find much joy in learning to dance the steps or patterns by myself backwards and in high heals! And when I am dancing, I am much more impressed by a leader that has great timing and musicality than one with a bunch of badly led steps!
I am inspired by learning to be a really good follower and being able to follow any of those patterns. But actually learning to dance each one of them on my own seems overwhelming if not impossible, backwards and not that much fun. So, whenever it was really necessary, I would learn short sequences of difficult or highly choreographed (un-lead-able) choreography for my various competition routines and know that if my leader blew out of the routine that I had just learned then I would have to follow whatever he led that had no resemblance to the original routine anyway so what was the point?…sigh.
And then somehow, I found myself starting to teach. And, in my opinion, if you can’t dance it you shouldn’t be teaching it…so that left me in a bit of a bind because I really needed to learn to lead quick and that meant, drats, learning patterns. Oh dear, what now?
Fortunately for me…and anyone who wants to learn to dance but is overwhelmed by the thought of learning all those different patterns for each different dance…at least at the social level, nearly every pattern that can be danced in one dance can be danced in more than one dance and sometimes in many dances…so there aren’t that many to learn after all! And that is where the simplicity comes in…learn to execute a pattern proficiently, study the timing of the dance that pattern comes from, choose another dance, usually from the same family of dances although not always, study the new dance timing, adjust the timing of the pattern to the new dance and POOF! a new pattern in two dances! Now we are getting somewhere….if I learn 5 patterns and how to blend them together, then apply the to the different timing of 3 different various dances, I suddenly have plenty of material to lead in each of 3 different dances…I think that even I can get my pattern-phobic head around that concept!
Don’t believe me? Try it...Mambo and cha-cha are the same dance but that the “slow” in Mambo is replaced with a “triple step” in cha-cha. Therefore, anything that can be led in Mambo can be led in cha-cha! It works because both a “slow” and a “triple-step” take up 2 beats of music and the other action in each of the dances is a rock-step. That’s just one example but the principle works over and over again….just keep it simple…don’t try to learn bunches of patterns for every dance…just learn good basic dance technique, understand the principles of structure and timing in each dance you want to learn and learn to execute a few patterns really well….then change the timing of each pattern to fit the timing of each dance that you want to dance suddenly dancing isn’t so overwhelming after all…even for us pattern-phoebes!