As a beginner, we all start to modern jive through going to dance class. Start with beginners, do some review classes and move up to intermediate. Then do freestyle at the class nights, and maybe branch out to other freestyles as we gain confidence. But once people have been dancing a while, do you really need to go to class?
My belief is yes, you should continue going to class.
However, hypocritically I’m one of those who rarely goes to class now.
I started ceroc after doing nearly 3 years of salsa training (having also danced for 12 years as a child). So I had a good technical understanding of spinning, partner dancing, frame and all the things that make a good partner dancer but that aren’t usually taught in ceroc or modern jive. It meant while I did beginners classes, but once I’d done a few weeks I did the intermediate alongside. However, as I was then a taxi dancer at a couple of local venues, and danced 3 times a week, I was going to a lot of classes (beginner and intermediate) for 4 years.
I also learnt through:
- workshops for intermediate and advanced modern jive moves and styling;
- a year of west coast swing classes which included some fabulous masterclasses with Jordan and Tatiana and other pros on the WCS circuit;
- and ceroc / modern jive and a WCS weekenders which covered more than just the dance style they were aimed at
- ballroom and latin taster sessions.
Having had a break for 5 years after having my son – unintentionally leaving it that long before going back to dancing – my aim was to make it to freestyles and not stress so much about getting to classes. This was helped by most of the classes in my area no longer running as standard ceroc nights. Instead they’re largely 1 class (intermediate or intermediate/advanced) followed by longer freestyles. They’re perfect for me, but not great for getting beginners in to dancing, and keeping nights accessible to all.
After a long summer where weeknights weren’t really possible (a farmer husband, harvest and a child aren’t conducive to dancing) I’ve not yet got back in the routine of going to at least one class night a week. But convenience and having to choose either class or freestyle night aside, classes are still important whatever your level.
Pros of going to class
1, Basics and reinforcement
You learn and go over the basics, and reinforce what you’ve learnt. We can all learn something and practice is essential to continue improving. That’s why pros still have lessons themselves.
Classes are more relaxed, you’ve the chance to meet people as you’re going round the room. That’s not always possible with freestyles where people stick in groups more or where there’s less chance to talk. Plus sometimes afterwards, everyone goes down the pub (or maybe that’s just my area).
3, Different teaching styles
Teachers will change over time/visiting different classes will broaden your dance experience and style of dancing.
4, Avoid boredom
You don’t get stuck in a rut. It’s easier for followers because they’re generally at liberty of the leader with moves. But for the leaders, if you’re someone who always does the same moves in the same order, just think whether you still want to be doing the same ones and nothing new for the next 10 or 15 years. Use the moves you know as the basis, but learn a few new moves to incorporate and mix things up. Followers will love you for mixing it up.
5, Support local dance
Modern jive classes are reliant on new people coming to the venue, retaining them, progressing them, and having new dancers start. When I started dancing, I looked at the good dancers and wanted to improve, and be able to dance like they could. Then when I was a taxi dancer, new people come in and wanted to dance like me. It’s a perpetual circle. If you love dance and want venues to stay open and full of dancers, then giving something back and encouraging newer dancers is important.
I know locally, some venues have struggled, ones that when I used to go were really busy. When I left, a lot of the people who I’d started with and were friends with also left dancing or moved away. It does make a big difference, when you lose a big core of dancers who leave with no one to replace them or inspire others to return. And put good dancers in a class, it’ll encourage more to come back so they get to dance with them too.
That’s a pretty good set of reasons why you should still go to class.
Ok, so maybe learning moves isn’t important because you’re all about the musicality and set moves don’t matter.
Or you maybe never want to dance with another beginner again – harsh, especially as I’ve had some nicer dancers with beginners over some leaders I ca think of who’ve been dancing for year.
But I think if you can pop to classes sometimes. If only for the selfish reason that it could potentially mean more dancers for you to dance with in future.
Do you go to regular classes? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments below