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Learning to Dance: Preparing for Your First Session

By Yann, published on 17/07/2018 We Love Prof - AU > Arts and Hobbies > Dance > What to Expect from your First Dance Lesson

“Dancing is like talking in silence. It’s saying a lot of things, without saying nothing.” – Yuri Buenaventura.

More and more people are getting into dancing both as an art form and as a sporting activity. Whether you’re learning ballet, Cuban salsa, hip hop, dancehall, pasodoble, bachata, cah cha, Oriental dance, or Zumba, anyone can learn to dance.

To help you take your first steps, here’s how what your first dance lesson should be like.

Getting to Know Your Dance Teacher

Anyone’s first dance lessons can be stressful if you’ve never danced before. From ballet to ballroom, different dance styles have different ways of going about things and different things your dance instructor will need to teach you.

That said, the first hour of lessons is usually similar regardless of the style (salsa, Argentine tango, breakdancing, Zumba, pole dancing, cha cha, mambo, capoeira, boogie-woogie, Irish dancing, etc.).

Don’t forget that a lot of schools offer a free lesson for students to give them a taster of the dance education they’ll get and many of the tutors on Superprof offer free tutoring for the first hour.

Learning to dance can be done in a variety of different ways, too (lessons for beginners, intermediates, advanced, at a dance academy or at dance studios, etc.).

Whatever the format, the students will usually arrive at least 5 to 10 minutes before the lesson. For the first lesson, this might be the perfect time to meet the other people who’ll be in your class before you have to do any routines with them.

How much do dance lessons cost? Make sure that you listen to your dance instructor. (Source: lika777)

Before your teacher teaches you anything, they’ll probably start by introducing themselves. They might tell you about their experience and background in dance, which you’ll become more familiar with over the course of your lessons.

They’ll also outline the rules you’ll need to follow in class. While modern dance classes mightn’t be as strict as ballet dance training, you’ll still find that regardless of whether you’re in a dance studio, private lesson, or school of dance, there’ll be a few rules to follow.

They’ll also use this time to chat a bit with each student in order to ascertain why they’re learning to dance and what they expect from the course. You might be there to prepare for your wedding day, to unwind after work, or to train as a dancer, etc. A good choreographer will adapt their dance instruction to suit their students’ reasons for learning.

Make the most of this time to explain to your teacher what you expect from them and yourself as well as ask any questions you may have.

If you’re taking lessons, the teacher will probably explain the milestones throughout the year, when the holidays are, and if there’s an end-of-year show. They’ll also probably tell you what goals they expect you to achieve.

Whether you’re doing dancehall, merengue, tap, swing, or country, your very first lessons will probably take things easy.

Warming Up: Taking Your First Steps

Dancing is both an artistic and sporting activity. You need to prepare your body before you start pushing yourself.

Warming up is, therefore, the first thing you need to do.

Preparing Your Joints

You’ll need to do a few stretches when before you start. In ballet, for example, you’ll be working towards the splits whereas, in breakdancing, you’ll need to focus on your wrists. Each dance will have areas you need to focus on.

It’s important to prepare your entire body and your joints, in particular. Your joints are extremely important since you can’t get into certain positions without them.

In your first dance lesson, the teacher will teach their students how to loosen up their joints in preparation for dancing. This step can take up a bit of time but it’s essential for avoiding injury.

Warming Up Your Muscles

To avoid any pulls, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve warmed up your muscles.

There are a number of exercises you can do to warm up your legs, arms, and the rest of your body. You need to make sure that your muscles are sufficiently warmed up before you do any dancing. This part of the lesson tends to take around 5 minutes.

Which are the most effective ways to warm up? Make sure you warm up before doing any sporting activity. (Source: mikefoster)

In addition to preparing your body for physical activity, warming up is also useful for preparing you mentally. This can make sure you’re relaxed before you start your lesson.

Your dance tutor might use the barre, a few pilates, or other activities.

Don’t hesitate to ask your teacher if you struggle with any of these. While warming up will become second nature over time, it can seem quite difficult when you first start.

Your First Dance Lesson: Learning More about the Discipline

Your first dance lesson is your first foray into the discipline. It’ll help you to learn more about dancing itself.

You can learn more about dancing in your everyday life. You don’t necessarily need dance classes to learn a few steps to show off in a club or a bar. However, dance lessons can help you learn important dance techniques.

You can learn how to dance without learning all the steps. However, dance lessons can help you to perfect your technique.

Your first lesson is a great opportunity to find out more about what dance lessons are like and to see if you get on well with your tutor. This is the very reason why a lot of private tutors offer free tutoring for the first hour. It’s a great way for both tutors and student to see if they’re right for each other before they commit to anything.

In your first lesson, the tutor will start off gently by teaching the student a few basic steps. The students will need to learn a few steps, then perform them in time with the music. You’ll have the opportunity to improve your coordination in later lessons.

What you study will also depend on how long each session is. If your lessons last two hours, you’ll have more chances to learn full routines. You’ll end each session with stretches and a cooldown.

How old do kids have to be to learn to dance? Shortly after their first steps, kids can start learning their first dance steps! (Source: pgbsimon)

Stretches for Ending the Lesson

Whether you’re doing private tutorials, a private dance class, lessons at a dance school, or group classes with a private tutor, your session will usually end with stretches and a cooldown.

Stretches can help the student to a gentle stop. They’ll help you feel better the following day, too. You shouldn’t just abruptly stop after physical activity; you have to stretch the various parts of the body.

Some tutors will put on some calming music to help their students to relax at the end.

This part of the lesson will last between 5 and 10 minutes. In your very first lesson, the tutor will probably spend some extra time showing the students exactly how to do this.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated and drink fluids during and after each session. Learning to dance requires time and effort. Whether you’re in a dance school, academy, studio, or private lessons, you have to do your stretches.

It doesn’t matter which discipline you’re studying (bachata, Oriental dance, African dance, contemporary, Kizomba, the Waltz, modern, rumba, flamenco, etc.).

Getting Ready for Your First Dance Lesson

When you go to your first dance lesson, you mightn’t be sure of what to wear. Some students get in touch with their teacher before their first lesson so they know exactly what to wear. If you can’t do this, here’s some advice.

Choosing Your Outfit

What should I wear?

A lot of people ask themselves this question before their first dance lesson.

What should you wear to dance class? While you might always learn in the same place, you mightn’t always wear the same outfit. (Source: Sendoku)

When it comes to dancing, you’ll need to move around a bit. Your clothes need to be flexible and comfortable. There’s no point in wearing jeans to your first lesson.

Leggings are very useful as you won’t catch your feet on your trouser legs.

Some even wear a Sirwal. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it because it’s harder to move around in. Of course, this comes down to personal preference so try it out first!

You can wear a vest top or a wrap-over top. To save yourself time, it might be worthwhile getting changed before you get to class. However, most dance schools and studios will have changing rooms if you can’t.

Getting Your Bag ready

Dancing doesn’t require that many accessories. You can bring a bag with a bottle of water to keep yourself hydrated and clothes to change into after if you want.

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