New Dancers, Visitors and Guests
New dancers be sure to sign up for the next
Dancing 101 series which will give you
all the skills you need to keep up in the beginners session.
New dancers, visitors and guests are invited to
our weekly beginners session.
However, our weekly beginners session may be too fast
for some of you.
If you are a novice and you do go to the weekly beginners class,
be sure you get there and are ready to start on time.
We will do at least two simple dances for you at
the beginning of the evening.
If you stay for the whole beginners hour,
we will try to do at least one or two more easy
dances that you will be able to follow.
The rest of the hour,
you can join in with our regular beginners
and keep up as well as you can, or you can take a break,
enjoy the music and watch the action.
If you are a new dancer and you come each week,
in time, you will catch on.
Everyone who comes regularly learns to dance, everyone.
It is just a matter of time and does not require
any special ability or talent.
The first hour of our regular weekly beginners class.
This class caters to the regularly attending beginning dancers.
While learning to dance is easy, something that everyone
who can walk can do,
you do have to show up and participate to learn to dance.
How Long Will It Take You to Learn to Dance If You Have Never Danced Before
You will have fun the first day, but you will not be able to remember the dances
and do all the steps.
If you show up each week and you participate the entire hour,
expect it to take a four months before you feel like you are catching on.
Expect it to take about two years to get
comfortable dancing with the advanced dancers.
At least, that is how long it took me.
Do not give up after only two or three months of weekly attendance.
You will be making progress, but you may not see it or feel it.
There are a lot of new things your body needs to get working together,
before you will start feeling comfortable.
You need to give yourself at least four months.
After about four months,
you will move from being a novice to a beginner.
Once you are a beginner, dances will start taking hold.
Take your time and enjoy the process.
You do not need to get the steps right.
You only need to relax and enjoy learning.
Twice a Week Works Four Times Faster
Twice a week is much better than once a week.
If you miss a class, you still end up going the same week.
When you dance twice a week,
you reinforce what you learn and you learn more new things.
Your progress is much faster.
If you dance twice a week, you can probably get comfortable enough
to stay during the advanced dancing in only six months,
or even less.
Less Than Once a Week
If you dance less than once a week,
you forget what you learned the last time,
and each time you end up having to repeat what
you did the last time you showed up.
Worse, the other people in your class probably have moved on.
You may not even get a chance to reinforce what you learned.
You may end up getting more new material that
you will not remember.
Attendance less than once a week makes progress difficult.
You are welcome to drop in any time on our
regularly weekly classes.
Be aware, that the weekly beginners class
caters to the regular beginners, so you will be
on your own to keep up.
We will be nice to you and do some dances you can do.
See the section on New Dancers at the top.
What to Avoid
If you want to learn Israeli Dancing,
you need to show up every week.
You can miss a week now and then,
but if you do not make a commitment
to showing up each week, you will not learn how to dance.
You need to do two other things when you show up:
(1) you need to participate the entire beginners hour,
and (2) you need to follow the instruction.
If you come to the beginners hour, but you come late,
leave early, or drop out of dances because you find them
too hard, you will not be participating enough to progress.
You also must follow the instruction.
The trap you want to avoid is to ignore the
instruction and try to do things your own way.
If you do this, most likely you will not progress
and then you will give up in frustration.
The best way to progress is to show up each week,
put your trust in the instructor and do what you
are asked to do for a few months.
In three or four months, you are sure to see much progress
and you will see your way to becoming a dancer.
Practice Does Not Make Perfect - Practice Makes Permanence
Dancing, like all sports, is a subconscious activity.
You have to train your body, your muscle memory.
If you have a good instructor, your instructor knows this.
Your instructor will steer you in the correct
direction so you develop the skills you need,
and prevent you from developing bad habits.
If you are a new dancer, you are likely going to
have to learn a lot of new ways of moving and behaving.
Since these actions are new, they are going to be
uncomfortable, possibly difficult.
You have to be intent on following the instruction
and not falling into bad habits because you think they
will be easier.
Music is a powerful force in memory association and muscle memory.
Your instructor is using the music and your participation to
train your subconscious mind.
This is how all dancers learn to dance and how Israeli dancers
can remember hundreds of dances.
Your need to let your conscious mind help by embracing
this process and not make your conscious mind an impediment
by stressing out.
Avoid Watching the Feet
You cannot dance with your head down.
The most important skill in dancing is balance.
The most important behavior in balance is good posture.
If your head is down, your posture is bad and you are off balance.
Your balance becomes especially stressed and problems
magnified when you are moving.
Your eyes are one of the three major sense organs that your
brain uses to control your balance.
The others are your inner ear and your contact points with the floor.
When you watch someone's feet,
you compromise both your visual sense
and your inner ear, by placing them in abnormal positions,
making your balance more difficult to maintain.
The second most important skill is orientation.
Orientation has a three components: (a) position on the floor,
(b) facing direction and (c) direction of movement.
When you are looking at someone's feet,
you cannot see any of the three components of orientation.
Once your balance is good, you are in the right place,
facing the right way and going in the right direction, the
next most important skill is keeping time with the music.
When you are looking at someone's feet, and moving your
feet in response to what you see, you will not be stepping
in time to the music.
You will be stepping after the beat.
If you learn dances with your head down, staring at people's feet,
being off balance and dancing off the beat, that is how you will do
the dances after you learn them.
Practice does not make perfect.
Practice makes permanence.
Not only will you be training yourself for that specific dance,
but you will be training yourself to dance all dances that way,
and worse, you will be training yourself to learn that way.
That is a bad habit you want to avoid.
You can look at people's feet.
At times this is useful.
Just do not make someone's feet the center of your attention
or the center of your vision.
Maintain your posture first, orient yourself, step with the beat,
and if you find it useful on occasion,
glance at someone's feet.
Calling the Steps
There is a lot going on when you are dancing.
You have to maintain your balance, orientation
and keeping time with music.
There are other people you have to avoid.
The room may have many distractions.
There are so many things going on around you,
that your brain and body are on overload.
The last thing you need is someone distracting you
and interfering in your assimilating all the other information
that is coming in.
When someone is calling steps out to you while you
are trying to concentrate on dancing, they are pushing
your brain beyond its limits and you cannot dance.
When someone is calling steps, the only thing you
can do is play Simon Says, and do what they say.
You will not be dancing.
Dancing is moving to music.
When you are learning to dance,
the first three skills you should be trying to master,
as we said already, are balance, orientation and timing.
When someone is calling steps,
it is hard for you
to pay attention to your posture and to orient yourself according
to the people around you.
It is difficult to keep time to the music
when someone is calling steps, because you cannot discern
the beat of the music.
Another problem with calling steps is it is stressful.
You feel like the steps are important and you feel pressure
to do the steps right.
Calling steps also disturbs other people, no matter
how quietly someone tries to do it, others hear.
The steps are the least important element of dancing.
Your feet are for moving your body.
You can add steps or take away steps as styling choices.
You can dance on either foot.
You should not get hung up on steps.
Worse, when you learn to dance by people calling steps,
remember practice makes permanence.
You are training yourself both for that specific dance
and as your means of learning,
to listen to someone calling steps.
Instead, train yourself to let the music tell you when and
what steps to take, and use the visual signals of the dancers
around you to orient yourself.
These are more reliable, accurate and pleasing cues.
At times, if the instructor finds a need for calling
out patterns or steps, that is fine and the instructor's choice.
Calling out steps can be helpful under certain circumstances,
but this is the group leader's perogative.
Other people in the class should not be calling out steps.