General Dance Discussion > Help, please! From a dance-loving wife with a dance-phobic spouse. . .

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by PennyAnnie, Oct 9, 2017.

  1. PennyAnnie

    PennyAnnie New Member

    Dear OpenDoor - I appreciate your honesty! Yes it does seem a bit like trying to mix oil and water, and I understand the wisdom behind your words of not having too high of expectations, or get my hopes up too high.

    I also see a lot of wisdom in your suggestion of letting him do some learning all on his own, first. In fact, I think it could be quite brilliant! That way he could get comfortable, learn some skills, and be more confident, before we tried to dance together. He would know more and have more practice that I do (I have ever learned to do partner dancing - I just love to move to music!).

    Not sure sure about the DJ thing - but another innovative idea! I think we are most likely to dance if going out to a night club with other couples, rather than becoming deeply involved in the dance community - but who knows where we'll end up?

    Thank you for your valuable 2 cents worth!
    opendoor likes this.
  2. PennyAnnie

    PennyAnnie New Member

    Agreed, Mr 4 Styles!
    So glad to have a recommendation for someone here in Portland!
  3. PennyAnnie

    PennyAnnie New Member

    LOVED your story about your early dancing attempts, Cornutt! So glad your DW got you started, and that you kept at it!

    Sounds like you could be reinforcing OpenDoor's suggestion for DH to take some lessons on his own first. And regarding my "experience" - I really don't have any in partner dancing (never had a partner to learn or dance with) - but have always loved to just move to music (fast dances, solo) since junior high, going out to clubs, music festivals, social events, etc. When there's music playing, I want to be moving to it. But I hear what you're saying, because even though I have had no more lessons, training or experience in partner dancing than he does, when we did take a few lessons together I was able to "get it" more quickly and easily than he did - so I hear your caution and warnings and will take them to heart (and try really, really, really hard to always heed them!). I can see that it would be so easy for a hesitant guy to get discouraged - and I don't want to do that! Thank you for pointing out the importance of not unintentionally derailing us by trying to "help" him!
  4. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    @PennyAnnie - I've worked with a couple in a similar situation to you. She LOVES music, desperately wanted to dance, and was convinced she'd be amazing. He was apprehensive, worried, and thought he was going to be terrible. They'd tried a few lessons/classes at a studio, and hadn't had a good experience. Because they know me, and know I dance, they asked me to teach them some lessons in their home to up his comfort level. Since I totally get the "fail in private, not publically" need, I agreed (Shh, to everyone who knows who I am IRL :))

    Turns out he wasn't terrible. It always took a few extra minutes to work through the concern/anxiety around something new and there were a few things he found challenging, but overall, his lead was clear and easy to follow. I actually found her harder to work with. Because she was convinced she was "a natural", she was resistant to change anything she was doing - fixing her footwork, backleading, overturning, etc. (Backleading is when you don't wait for the lead to indicate what he wants, and just do your own thing, making him match you.) It was nearly impossible for him to do his part, because she wasn't doing hers. Once I got her to realize that she also had some things to work on (and to stop putting all of the blame on him), their progress started.

    I'm not saying that you will have that same attitude - I just share the story to illustrate that things don't always translate the way that you expect... and that learning to partner dance requires a willingness to learn from both parties. I think it's awesome that he's willing to try to learn this for you. I think the best way for you to show your gratitude is to be the kind of dance partner that creates the environment that lets him learn... which may include you eating some humble pie at some point :) I'd actually encourage lessons together to start, because asking him to go solo to begin (unless you're also doing solo lessons) starts you from the position of 'I'm better at this than you are'. Try a couple together, see how it goes, and make a plan from there.

    Last, I echo some of the thoughts others have shared: DH being an engineer should be no trouble at all, though it may draw him to certain dances over others. I'm an analyst, and love the structure and codification of the international dances - standard in particular. He may find down the road though, that the greatest personal growth from learning to dance comes from learning how to let go of that analytical side, and to feel and trust personal instinct. That's been a surprising benefit for me (and bonus, made my dancing so much better!).
  5. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    I have a social dance approach rather than focusing on a single partner. In my dance "career", I have danced with hundreds of women. Each woman dances a bit different, responds to my lead in different ways. Since I have a limited number of patterns, that keeps it interesting. I don't consider that I've mastered a pattern until (1) the average follow does approximately what I intended and (2) I have a plan B for each step to adjust to those follows who grossly misinterpret my lead. My learning process for new patterns particularly the ones that use movements that are new to me is that practicing with a partner who responds in a different way makes learning the pattern difficult.

    In dancing with these hundreds of women, I encounter some who have a background in solo dances (jazz, tap, ballet, line dancing). This background can make them easier to dance with in some ways and difficult in other ways. They may have mastery of their own balance and efficient movements, but the way they've mastered this doesn't fit well when dancing with another human being. One of the most difficult women to dance with has a background in ballet.

    So I disagree with the approach that he learns a dance and then you just follow because you know how. (In my experience, women who boast "I just follow" usually don't.) So my recommendation is that you have some amount of private lessons, jointly or solo or maybe a mixture of both. The lesson ratio might be 90% him and 10% you if you pick it up quickly. Your lessons should make sure that you really are just following, that you have the correct posture and frame to work with your partner rather than mastery of a pattern.

    That way when you practice together, if he misleads something you'll end up where he actually mislead you and he'll have some feedback that maybe he'll adjust his lead. When we set up an engineering test, we don't want the technicians fudging the numbers to give us the outcome they think we want.
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  6. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    I'm going to pile on here because I was *that* woman initially - very impatient with my husband when we started taking lessons, why couldn't he just lead like the instructor did, figured it was his fault if I didn't do what I was expected to do, frustrated that we weren't progressing fast enough. I snipped at him once in the early days when we were doing super basic foxtrot magic timing steps at party (we were upper bronze or silver in rhythm) and we were getting lapped by other couples on the floor dancing continuity steps. He trickled off on the dance thing a few years ago - admittedly, dance was my thing and not his - in retrospect I'm lucky he stayed in it as long as he did. I've also done some leading so I now appreciate his experience, but at the time, I was typically horrid.

    So yeah, I cannot emphasize cornutt's and FF's points enough - do NOT try to help or correct him or criticize or look annoyed or offer up insight as to why you're not following his lead (unless you can pinpoint something YOU are struggling to do). Leave that to the instructor. Just focus on doing what the instructor tells you to do.
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  7. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    I have been horrified by how some women treat their husbands during lessons. It can be a particular problem when the wife has only danced with her beginner husband and professionals.
    PennyAnnie likes this.
  8. PennyAnnie

    PennyAnnie New Member

    @FancyFeet I appreciate all of your insights and suggestions - especially the story about the couple with the similar situation. In my case, I KNOW that I don't know anything about partner dancing so realize that I also have tons to learn. I just have more DESIRE to learn how to dance. "Try a couple (classes) together, see how it goes, and make a plan from there" sounds like sound advice. Thanks again!
    FancyFeet likes this.
  9. PennyAnnie

    PennyAnnie New Member

    Hey - maybe I should first ask, is it inappropriate to leave the full quote of each response? Each one has such GREAT content that I haven't wanted to delete any of it - especially if it is helpful for new readers to get the context. But I also don't want to be taking up extra space if it's not considered appropriate. So feel welcome to "school" me on proper forum etiquette as well!

    On topic - what I hear you saying @snapdancer is that the most important thing for me to learn is how to follow my partner's lead, along with correct posture and frame - and to be willing to be mislead! As I have had no dance training of any sort, I'm totally open to to learning, and your suggestions of what to focus on are very helpful. The reference to the engineering test made sense - thank you for that!
  10. PennyAnnie

    PennyAnnie New Member

    @IndyLady - Thank you for piling on! I just googled about how to have the right mindset to be a good follower, how to be a good dance partner, etc. I really appreciate that you, @cornutt, @snapdancer, and
    @FancyFeet have all emphasized the importance of attitude, and of learning to be a good follower. Great advice to "Just focus on doing what the instructor tells you to do."
    cornutt likes this.
  11. PennyAnnie

    PennyAnnie New Member

    Thank you for chiming in, @RiseNFall. At first I wasn't sure what you meant, but I think you mean that because there is such a difference in skill level between the pro and her beginner hubby, that the wife keeps making comparisons and blames/chastises her hubby for not doing it right, or as well. Is that it? If so, I would't have thought particularly about that, but now I will be on guard to not fall into that ugly trap - thank you for bringing it up. I truly wouldn't want to treat my DH poorly - especially not in public! We're fortunate that we're both very supportive and appreciative of each other - hopefully that will work in our favor! And reading a bit between the lines in your response and @snapdancer, it sounds like it's also a good idea to dance with a variety of dancers at different skill levels. Wow - so much great advice from everyone!
  12. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    You cannot avoit it, because it´s not you, it´s him and the situation respectively, that brings it up.
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  13. davedove

    davedove Well-Known Member

    Also, realize that if something goes wrong with a lead, the lead will already know it and doesn't need you pointing it out. That's one of my pet peeves.
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  14. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    One can absolutely avoid being snippy with one's amateur partner!
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  15. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Of course, but my point was different!
    PennyAnnie likes this.
  16. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    And now for something completely different.
    Portland, you say?
    Based on my personal experience, and that of many of my dance friends, it's possible learn to dance without taking private lessons.
    You can at least sample dances, and local scenes, at two places I can recommend in Portland.
    One would be to go to the swing night (Thursday) lessons at the Secret Society Ballroom.

    Another would be to sample various dances that are taught at Bushwhackers in Tualatin.

    While I hesitate to mention Argentine Tango, because it's generally considered to be not very easy to learn, we ARE talking Portland, so, you could sample this dance at the practica that Bill Alsup (and Meagan Pingree) have been hosting since 1999. There is a beginner lesson 1 ish each Sunday.

    And, although only one DFer has taken me up on the offer, I'll even meet you and your husband at one of those places if you want.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017
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  17. PennyAnnie

    PennyAnnie New Member

    The "ugly trap" was unfairly blaming DH for the disparity of skills, and then taking it out on him. I appreciate knowing that this situation WILL happen, so I can try to avoid having an "ugly" reaction.
    opendoor likes this.
  18. PennyAnnie

    PennyAnnie New Member

    Nice to have you join the thread @davedove ! Thanks for sharing one of your pet peeves!
  19. PennyAnnie

    PennyAnnie New Member

    Wow, @Steve Pastor - thank you for reaching out with great suggestions, and a truly amazing offer! So nice to have a Portlander on board.

    I see that you're a staff member. I am so impressed with ALL of the responses to my original post! - - - you (and everyone at the staff/leadership level of DanceForum) can be very, very proud of the community that you have drawn together and built!

    I love your suggestions, and would be at these events in a heartbeat, but will need to see if DH is willing to turn out at one of these sorts of events that is more "public" than private lessons. But, I have also been cringing when looking at the cost for private lessons. With as much learning as we have to do, it could break the bank and be cost prohibitive - so these could be a good alternative. I'm a little worried, though, about DH again feeling like he's lost amongst all the other dancers, and falling behind if he isn't "getting it" as quickly as others. Like anything, there are always pros and cons, and if since budget restrictions are a reality, then you have to decide what your priorities are and make you decisions from there.

    I have also recently read about a specific class at The Viscount called "Partner Dancing 101" taught by Sarah Riddle - also Thursday nights - which looks like it might provide a lot of what we're looking for. The class description says (in part), "You want to learn to dance, but don't know where to start? Perfect. There are many beautiful dances out there to learn, but sometimes just the fundamentals of how to move with rhythm and grace with another person are enough. . . Burgeoning dancers will learn all there is to learn about connection, how to step in rhythm with another, how to find rhythm in all kinds of songs, and how to look good doing it. What's the biggest take-away from this course? You will learn how to love, not fear, dancing."

    Do you have any experience/insight/opinions on this class, or sort of class? It still might be too public for DH, but it sounds as if it might have the right attitude for us.

    And if (or WHEN) I can get him out to one of the venues you mentioned, I would love to take you up on your offer to meet us there. It would be so welcome feel like we had a "friend" there already. Thank you so much for your very kind and generous offer!
  20. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I took both Argentine Tango and Salsa lessons at the Viscount when I had decided to branch out from Country. I can remember seeing Sarah during a lesson and thinking that she really had the styling down. I've taken Balboa, African, and Lindy Hop lessons there, also. I haven't taken the class you mention, but it sounds like a good idea.
    You can take classes by the month (4 weeks usually), or take one lesson at a time (last time I checked.) By the month is less expensive than by the lesson. So, you could potentially take the first class of the month without making a four week commitment.
    Oh, and if your spouse partakes in drinking alcohol, Base Camp Brewery is three blocks away, and there is a rum? bar? and a place to eat in the same building as the Viscount Studio - just one to loosen up.

    I can tell you that it's often comforting to know that you are in a crowd and less conspicuous, and you'll probably find that at Bushwhackers, where the lessons are free and there is no cover charge on Tuesday and Wednesday. Beginning East Coast Swing next Saturday for $5 cover charge (Free if you get there before 7 PM.) (Robin is a pretty good teacher.)

    I'm pretty pleased to be a part of this Forum, so it's nice to have someone notice how helpful our members can be!

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