Ballroom Dancing: Hot Cha Cha!

"First the music then the dance". It may take a few private lessons to distinguish one rhythm from another, but dancing on time to the beat of the drum is really what it’s all about. Hopefully you enjoy music. It will make the arduous process a lot more fun and how exciting to learn that your favorite song is a Cha Cha or Foxtrot! It truly opens up a new world of music appreciation.

A good instructor will encourage you to recognize that dancing on-time to music is the foundation of dance. This helps the student understand the nature and prime directive of this fine art. Knowing your left foot from your right foot always helps, especially when you have a partner in front of you doing the opposite. Dance position and hold are extremely important. A good dance frame, solid posture and balance help control and communicate connection to each step.

In the beginning it may look and feel mechanical, but as you practice, practice, practice, in time this will dissolve into effortless flowing movement. As a social recreation you will come into close contact with many people. Proper hygiene is essential and students are advised to keep themselves well groomed.

In any sport you must outfit yourself correctly in proper gear. Wear clothing that is not cumbersome yet neat and tidy. For ladies, I recommend a dress or skirt preferably above the knees that swirls when you twirl. Footwear should be thin-soled so you can feel the floor — no thongs, runners or slingbacks please. Wearing a shoe with good support will help develop footwork.

Belts, jewelry or "dangly bits" just get in the way. Keep it simple. As a couple you can color coordinate your outfits. These ideas will give you an attractive look because once you step on that dance floor someone’s going to be watching.

Some dances move around the floor in a counter clockwise direction, this is called Line Of Dance (L.O.D) Dances that don’t move L.O.D are called Spot Dances. Here are a few examples of both:

The Waltz being the mother of all dances moves around the L.O.D with a rhythmic swirl lilt. This creates the ambiance of grace, balance, and poise.

The Foxtrot is very popular and frequently used as a foundation dance. Foxtrot moves around the L.O.D in a friendly, walking, talking "get to know your partner" manner. I bet this was Frank Sinatra’s favorite!

Everybody loves the Cha Cha Cha. This is a fun spot dance using Latin hip action. It’s a social must, because Cha Cha rhythm is found in much of today’s popular music.

The Jive, Swing and Street Hustle are three spot dances which involve plenty of energy and coordination. The fast spins, turns and wrap ups are the key to their popularity. The music is so lively it’s hard to sit still.

The Tango is a romantic character dance played out through short, sharp and quick-styled poses around the L.O.D. It’s easy to get swept away by the music, as this dance is very dramatic in nature.

Ballroom dancing can be mentally, physically and emotionally challenging. Therefore, nurturing your body correctly is important if you want to perform at optimum levels. For health, performance and dancing longevity, consider the following approach:

Drink plenty of filtered water. Routine hydration combats fatigue and keeps the mind alert. For a quick "pick-me-up" I suggest a high-quality sport nutrition bar or a whey protein shake for muscle strength and endurance. This can be made in advance and taken to the practice session in a thermos.

I also recommend a good vitamin program which includes a multiple vitamin and mineral with extra C and E. This helps boost the immune system and prevents some of the muscle soreness caused by physical activity.

Ballroom dancing has helped me to stay lean, poised and well-groomed. I have also discovered that weight training and good nutrition are important allies that keep me in top shape as a professional in this field.

I hope I have "wet your appetite" to take a bite out of dancing. Good luck and I’ll see you on the dance floor.

Every Day's a Holly Day...TKH