(Slow, Slow, Quick-Quick, Slow)
The First Slow…
You’re new. Maybe it’s your first time in a dance studio. Maybe the first time in years.
It doesn’t matter, the feelings are the same.
Anxious… Nervous… You may be dancing with another student or with an instructor. If an instructor, it’s certain they are trying to engage in conversation while dancing and you realize you can’t talk beyond the occasional grunt resembling polite conversation. Your brain is on full alert… What happened? You know how to walk. This is just walking in time to music!
You feel like a failure no matter how well you did on that first lesson or group class. In fact, dancing can be a hard skill to pick up. It takes hard work and determination to make it through the first stages of learning and, if you’ve made it through, you have my respect and admiration. Welcome to the club and, please… Save me a dance.
The Second Slow…
You are officially a dance student. You may have bought special shoes, learned what that little wire brush is for, and have private or group lessons scheduled. You’re learning more figures in the dances you’re pursuing and you may be trying new dances because they look cool! Oh! And here is a biggie:
Toward the end of this step you start to ‘hear’ what type of dance goes with each song. You may be going to social dances and your confidence is growing each time you step onto the dance floor. This step is one where you will be amazed at what you are learning and doing… New dancers are looking at you and thinking, “Wow! Look at them! They can dance!”
You’re a seasoned dance student. You are picking up some new figures in the dances you know, but there is so much to learn that you drill down and focus on just a few of your favorite dances. You start to pick up more technique and apply it to your dancing. Most of the new things you learn come relatively easy. Other dancers in class might start to have questions about the dances you dance well.
You may need to get another set of dance shoes as the ones you started with are almost worn out and are a testament to the hard work you’ve put in learning this wonderful new skill. Social dancing becomes more fun as the techniques you’ve learned seep into muscle memory and you realize that dancing is more than just hard work- it’s fun! Most folks are happy and comfortable staying in “quick-quick” as it’s, well, comfortable. It feels like you’ve arrived and you have! But just around the corner, lurks the last slow.
The Last Slow…
You’re a seasoned dance student. Learning slows to a crawl. Dancing is primary and learning is secondary. You may have several venues that you frequent, you might have several sets of dance shoes and you might have more friends and acquaintances now than at any other time in your life. People recognize you out social dancing and in the various studios you go to learn. You may have one primary dance instructor that is fine-tuning your technique and a few others that specialize in particular dances that catches your interest.
You have confidence on the dance floor that you couldn’t have imagined when working though the slows and quicks, but that confidence is tempered by the knowledge that you’ve just scraped the surface. Underneath lies many more hours of hard work to master technique or to learn and perfect a new figure and its at this point you realize that learning to dance was not just the first slow, but the whole first basic step. It’s time to brush your shoes, find a floor, a partner and get busy on the next basic.
Slow, Slow, Quick-Quick, Slow.
by Michael Beavers