A publication to engage the dance community. Learn. Discuss. Contribute. Enjoy.

The Dancing Never Stops

Staying Active Without Your Partner

By Alexzandra Enger

With the fall semester and winter break at the University of Minnesota upon us, the University of Minnesota Ballroom Dance Club and Competition Team is also coming to a close for the holidays. The nature of a month-long break means that many of our teammates and partners will be leaving the city of Minneapolis and scattering across the country to visit their families. While taking a break from ballroom does have merits--a topic deserving of its own article--for many people this is just too long of a time to go without practice and so many, myself included, are looking for ways to continue to improve their dancing with solo activities. What’s that? Improve your partner dancing by working solo? Of course! There are a multitude of different activities one can do to make progress, no matter where you are or who you’re with.

DanceSport, is just that--a sport. As with any sport, endurance, strength, and flexibility are incredibly important to reaching your maximum potential. Regular stretching, strength training, and cardio will both keep you active during this time without rigorous dance practice and will contribute to making your movements stronger, more sure, and more fluid. Plus, after a month of regular cardio you’ll easily be able to make it through that quickstep without losing your breath!

A second option to consider when you’re without a partner is practicing your steps and choreography on your own. Regardless of whether you’re a lead or follow, knowing your choreography inside and out without a partner to rely upon ensures that when you’re on the dancefloor you’ll have greater confidence in your motions. Plus, when you’re sure of yourself it’s much easier to let your artistic side shine through. Think about it; if two couples of equal technical skill are on the floor, where one couple is highly expressive and imparts emotion onto the audience and the other couple is simply going through the motions, which is going to be marked higher? As much as it is physical, dance is emotional. It can be difficult to let the artistry show, though, if you’re not in total control of the physical side.

Finally, there’s never going be any shortage of group classes and social dances in the studios near you! Most group classes don’t require you to bring a partner along, and are offered at a variety of difficulties for dancers of all skills. Keep in mind that beginner classes are great even for experienced dancers as they provide the perfect place to practice all the fundamentals that are so key to making difficult choreography look effortless. Social dances, aside from being incredibly fun, provide the crucial partner practice that is essential for ballroom dance. Even if you can’t practice with your competitive partner, you can still dance with teachers, students, and fellow competitors!

Clearly there’s no shortage of opportunities to continue advancing your dancing, even when you’re by yourself! Now, get out there and dance – whether it’s with someone else or just by yourself!