What's different about The Connected Dancer?
• We teach people how to dance, rather than teaching dance steps to people.
Why does that matter? Because we start off with the principle that who YOU are - your background, personality, style of learning, emotions, body, and energy - are more important than any existing system of teaching dance. We both have extensive experience across virtually every accepted syllabus (or system of teaching dance), whether NDCA, ISTD, or any franchise, but we create original and personally tailored systems for each of our students. We can show our work, and we want to create independent, self-sufficient dancers who are in charge of their own dance education, who are educated and savvy consumers, and whose joy for dance is always the guiding focus for their learning with us.
• We teach movement through movement.
The universal language of dance is movement. You can describe it in any words you like, in any language or specialized vocabulary you like, but there's a reason that good partner dancers from Argentina, Europe, China, and America can all dance together without knowing a single word in common. We take a kinesthetic approach, because once you FEEL what good dancing is supposed to be, you can re-create it. Then you can describe it however you want, but there's no secret word or information you can learn that will magically create good dancing. Building a strong foundation of good movement, both on your own and with a partner, allows you to filter all your subsequent learning through that awareness.
What dances do you teach? What should I learn?
If you can dance it with a partner, we teach it! We are both certified to teach all the partner dances through various bodies recognized by the NDCA (National Dance Council of America), and we have extensive competitive and social dance experience. We teach American, International, and social styles, following the best practices from a variety of syllabi (or systems of teaching dance).*
But let's say for the sake of argument that you are a new dancer. You're saying to yourself, "Self, what the heck do I actually want to learn? I don't know! It's like going to the mall and looking for ... clothes. There are a lot of options and I'm not really educated enough to know exactly what I want." Well, you are wise, new dancer. Let's break it down.
There are four different kind of dance experiences you might want to have. Let's take a look at each of them.
(1) Bar dancing / Getting your groove on.
You want to go out to a bar, or a club, or a party, or a wedding, or some place that has awesome jams that you like, and be able to dance. That might mean solo dancing (i.e. breaking out your moves while you're standing around with some friends, or getting into a big circle on the floor and dancing) or it might mean partner dancing (asking someone to dance and tooling around in some free-form partnered goodness).
What's important here is your comfort, your ease of movement, having some awesome moves in your back pocket, and knowing how to handle the variety of dance situations you might find yourself in. We'll design some lessons for you that take into account what kinds of music you like, where you might be headed, and what kind of dancer you want to be.
(2) General Social Dancing
You want to head to a ballroom night where folks are going to be doing a variety of ballroom dances socially, or you're going on a cruise, or you're attending a fancy event where you know people will be waltzing etc. In this case, you'll want to learn a variety of ballroom dances (the six big ones are waltz, foxtrot, tango, rumba, cha cha, and swing). You'll want to be well versed in determining which kinds of music suit which kinds of dances, acquiring and executing a good repertoire of movement in each different dance, learning how to partner well with either your regular dance partner or with people you might meet socially, and knowing how to handle a busy dance floor.
(3) Genre-Specific Social Dancing
You are going to go dance at a venue with a particular style of dance - like salsa, west coast swing, lindy hop, Argentine tango, or country western. In this case, you'll want a thorough grounding in the particulars of that dance, that scene, and that music, as well as any related dances (salsa dancers, for example, would also want to be familiar with dances like cumbia, merengue, and bachata, since you're likely to encounter one or all of them at a typical salsa club). We'll get you familiar with all the ins and outs, make sure you're comfortable, and get you out on that social floor.
(4) Competitive Dance
You want to compete or perform in a particular kind of partner dance. This option is much less about the social experience of partner dancing, and a lot more about executing a particular technical standard in front of judges who are evaluating you. We'll choreograph, prepare, and compete with you, and we'll make sure you shine.
(5) E: All of the above!
And of course, you can elect any one or any combination of the above options. We'll want to pick at least one to get started, so we can head in a clear direction, but you may well find that your dance goals change over time, and that's totally cool. All dancers benefit from widening their experience, and from time to time, we may recommend that you dip into another track to gain some important skills that will advance your chosen dance journey more effectively. There's no wrong answer, and we'll encourage you to try anything that appeals to you (and to talk about it frequently, and openly)!
* Here's the full and exhaustive list of dances we teach:
- American Smooth Ballroom Dances (Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz)
- International Standard Ballroom Dances (Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Quickstep, Viennese Waltz)
- American Rhythm Dances (Rumba, Cha Cha, Mambo, East Coast Swing)
- International Latin Dances (Cha Cha, Rumba, Samba, Paso Doble, Jive)
- Lindy hop
- West Coast Swing
- Argentine tango (milonga, tango, and vals)
- Salsa (including Bachata, Cumbia, and Merengue)
- Country Western (including Country Two Step, Country Western, Country Waltz, and Line Dancing)
- Solo dancing
- Custom choreography
Do you teach same-sex / LGBT dancers or couples?
OF COURSE. We are affiliate members of NASSPDA (the North American Same Sex Partner Dance Association), and we actively support and promote same-sex and reverse-role partner dancing. We welcome students of any sexual orientation and any gender identification, and we want to choreograph your wedding / teach you to groove / get you out on the competition floor.
Can you help me get ready to dance at a wedding or event?
Yes! We absolutely can! Many of our long-term students came to us to get ready for a wedding (either their own or someone else's) and discovered a love of dancing that lasted long after the reception.
Most wedding dancing falls into two major categories, both of which we teach:
- Dancing where you and your partner are the center of attention: Think first dances for the bride and groom, father/daughter or mother/son dances, etc. Some people want a choreographed routine to a specific song (in varying degrees of complexity) while others prefer a more relaxed approach. It's completely up to you, but all our students say pretty much the same thing: "I want to look like I know what I'm doing, and I want to have fun." We've got that locked down.
- General social dancing: This is usually what happens at a wedding reception, or party, or ball. Some of it may be partner dancing, and some of it may not be. The more we know about your event, the better we can help you prepare. Becoming a good social dancer takes some time, but it's well worth the investment - you will never again have to turn down an invitation to dance or sit through a song that gets your feet tapping.
How do I learn to dance?
Partner dancing! It's you and, well, a partner. You can bring your own, but you don't have to. Whether you're on your own, or part of a couple, we can teach you to lead, follow, and move to the best possible standard. You are already awesome!
Fred Astaire once pointed out that all the best dancers he knew weren't born knowing; they were trained. In other words, nobody wakes up one morning knowing how to break out a mean cha-cha. So how do you do it?
- You can take private lessons. The point of a private lesson is to teach you (or you and your partner), in the way that you learn best. We'll get you where you want to go as fast as possible, and help you learn faster and more permanently than you thought you could. This is mostly what we do: the vast majority of our teaching time is spent in private lessons.
- You can take group classes. This is an awesome way to learn patterns (moves, steps, whatever), to dance with a wide variety of partners (you'll rotate partners frequently), and to meet new people. It's fun! At this time, we don't offer regular group classes, but we're happy to point you to some great options in your area.
- You can just go dance. Sometimes there's even a free group class beforehand. You'll sort of figure it out eventually.
- You can watch a ton of videos on YouTube and work it out on your own.
So what's right for you? It depends on your goals and how you learn! We'd recommend that you come to us for a consultation - we can try some things out and see what sticks. Ultimately, a lot of people opt for private lessons, but there's no one right answer. As teachers, we believe that the best interest of the student is the most important thing - if you would be best served by going to take some group classes and social dancing, we'll tell you that. And we're happy to make some recommendations about where to go.