The art of dance and the beautiful story of a wonderful dancing friend

This moment of time, when you realize that writing and especially in a foreign language is in fact extremely difficult, not to mention that you are about to do so, for someone so incredibly important, someone who have helped you shape your life for good…

Dancing is a symbol of energetic life, invigorating passion, desire, deep feelings and sexuality. A dance symbolizes the stages and rhythms of life. Dancing is even more than we can possibly imagine… Dancing is life….

I will begin this dance story, by saying that I have met this person, about 9 years ago at the dance studio that I was working at that time – Arthur Murray.

At that time, the studio in Glenview, had the so called “Dance Students Party”, where every existing student, had to invite friends, so they can be introduced to the dance community.

I believe, that you can already guess, that my future friend and student, was one of the guests at that time. After seeing, that Arthur Murray had an ad for free / discounted dance lessons, she got invited by one of her best friends – Mrs. Doris W., who was already taking dance lessons for some time to join one of the dance parties.

After enjoying her first time in a dance studio and having a great conversation with her daughter, about how she used to love dancing, my dear friend was about to start her dance journey.

Her family, happened to be extremely loving and supportive, so they got her a few lessons to start with.

Realizing that the age of 72 is just a number and having a wonderful first lesson, my friend started getting a bit more involved into dancing and committing to dance packages, that would be bringing her journey to a different level.

 

At the beginning, her very first dance teacher – Kelly, managed to do a great job, by helping her build a great understanding of coordination and balance, combined with lots of fun and joy, which is an important part of everyone’s dance journey.

 

Before I continue, telling you the dancing story of my friend, I would love to tell you couple words about her past:

Extremely accomplished in the sphere of physiology, she was RHR management physiology with issues affecting leadership effectiveness as well as working for Bankers Life (Vise president of Human resources)

For her, the consulting carrier and her family, where the most important thing.

Interestingly enough, every time she has attended a major event with dancing, weddings or any other occasion that would include dancing, she would be the first one on the dance floor!!!

 

After sharing parts of her past, let’s go back to her dance journey and the moment she left Murray dance studio…

In the mid of 2013, I decided on leaving my workplace and creating a dance society in the North Shore area, which later was named “North Shore Dance Society”.

My friend decided on following me and we started practicing in her… leaving room (and yes, stop making excuses with the amount of space you have, just do it…).

Eventually, we started renting a floor space (paying floor fee) at a great place, located at the heart of Wilmette. Soon after, the very first dance event became a priority and everything after that is a wonderful history for both of us.

 

If you happened to ask her about the art of dance in her life… Expect to hear this:

“Other than family, nothing has had such an impact in my life. Quality in my life. Thinking of other ladies that say I wish that I can do it… Part of having the health is considering dancing as a gift of life. Source of joy, sense of fulfillment, frustration, cognitive as well as physical. Great sense when a dancer understands something and works well. Tremendous support of family and friends.

Lots of things that I didn’t expect – great physical activity and amazed by the things that I learned how to do… Lost weight and I am probably in the best shape of my life. Had to give away my old clothes.

Looked better every day and that made me very happy. Met some incredible people and made many wonderful friends through the dance community in Illinois. Very supportive community and a great friendship is what I have experienced.

Although, I have done many dance events, never felt competitive…

Balance, coordination & so much more to gain, thanks to dancing. Getting older is simply a reality for everyone.so I wanted to make sure that keep myself in shape.

Opening the dance studio in Glencoe was a fantastic idea. Feeling, like this is my second home, I have met absolutely great and very supportive people. Dancing is Celebration of my life and the most fulfilling part of it. If I had to choose one activity – dancing without question.

With tears in my eyes, hard to express how much I love dancing…

Understanding that my goal is the best dancer that I can be. Pushing myself every single time I practice or perform. The physiologist in me, understands that I can do it. Coordination between arms and feet is soooo hard… Having the opportunity to learn from a female and a male instructor is a blessing. Working with Olga is just part of the magic in dancing and the benefits of learning from her are countless.

Olga and Aleks, encouragement and a great constructive feedback is simply phenomenal.

About dance events… Well, they have never been my main thing, but on the other hand, I love doing them and I can see plenty of benefits to participate them. I used to get very nervous before performing, but that’s no longer the case. With time, I have stopped being nervous, but always want to do well. I enjoy the fun of the events and the fact that we get to be together (being with our group)

Currently, I am dancing over 20 different styles, but my favorite is the “American smooth” – Waltz, tango, Foxtrot & Viennese Waltz. My biggest fear in dancing – forgetting the routine while performing (never happened).

My favorite dance routine was a Foxtrot on the song “You make me feel so young”!

If you ask me about my favorite dance event, well… they are so many, but I will stick with Extravaganza Showcase and Harvest Moon Ball, since I feel like home there. Another incredible event, that I would strongly recommend, would be the Wisconsin State Championship.

Why Aleks?! –well… fun has never been my main thing (you will understand once you work with him). I like the way he teaches. Consider him as an excellent teacher. Different way of teaching between levels and constructing everything like a Lego construction. Slowly build up and a clear focus before refining. Looking at what needs to be done.

Favorite Coach – hmmm, that’s a tough one… For me is hard to feel the difference, because they all contribute to my dance development. Bill Sparks, Peter Minkov, Olga Boneva and just some of the names that I would like to thank for the dancer I am today.

Little advice for all of my fellow dancers – Get more out of individual work. Make sure you practice every day.”

 

Anna Marie Buchmann

Pro/Am Dancing vs Social Dancing, North Shore Dance Society – Glencoe

What is the difference between Social & Competitive Dancing?!? Probably the most common question that any dance teacher have to answer .

Social Dancing
Social dancing is a non-competitive version of ballroom and latin dancing as well as night club dancing (Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, West Coast Swing, Hustle, Polka & more).  Usually it is comprised of all the same dances, like Foxtrot, Tango, Swing, or Cha-Cha, but designed to be used in practical settings like wedding receptions, nightclubs, business functions, or informal gatherings.  Social dancing is less formal that exhibition dancing and is meant to be enjoyed while socializing. 

Competitive Dancing or Pro/Am

When it comes to Ballroom Dance and DanceSport, you hear the expression Pro-Am a lot. Pro-Am competition is a category in DanceSport where amateur students partner with a professional dancer, similar to what you see on “Dancing With The Stars.” In these events only the amateur is being judged, leaving the professional free to concentrate on helping you look and dance your best! There are several age classifications and level divisions available, allowing professionals to dance with all their students, and to ensure you compete against other dancers of similar skill. Every dance style is available, so you can choose the dances you want to compete in.

 

Skills needed for Good Dancing – Social vs Competitive Pro/Am

Leading and Following – The most important skill for good social dancing is Leading and Following.  This is the non-verbal communication from the leader to the follower indicating the direction, timing, and style, among other things. If deciding to compete in a Pro/Am category with your dance teacher, you better be ready to take your dancing to the next level. Be ready to understand your own routine and eventually your partner’s steps. Directions become absolutely “must know” and your timing have to become very clear and easy to understand. The physical connection and understanding of yours and your partners body weight will be crucial for a good synchron. Creating space for your partner and making him/her look better will be an important task to master.

Posture and Dance Frame – When social dancing, your posture is important to the extend where you don’t want to look down and hopefully you don’t disturb your partner. Your dance frame in the world of social dancing is probably the very last thing that thoroughly matters, so just bread and enjoy your time on the floor. When it gets to Pro/Am dancing, be sure to keep a great posture and a wonderful dance frame, that the style you are dancing requires. I can promise you, that frame and posture will be the two things you will probably spend the most time during your hard practices, because without those two, competitive dancing would not work well for you.If Leading and Following is a message, then good posture and dance frame are the antenna broadcasting the signal is what you can think of when competing. 

Multi-Tasking

Ultimately, social dancing is having the ability to converse while dancing.  Being able to multi-task, like chatting about work or the weather while Waltzing, takes some practice but allows dancing to develop into natural use much quicker and that’s as far as it goes. Making a dance mistake, while having a blast in a salsa / bachata club is perfectly fine as long as you are smiling and the person dancing with you understand that you are not competing. When you are preparing to compete, the level of multi – tasking changes right the way. You will have to practice over and over different moves with the correct posture, frame, alignment, timing, styling and so on… Once you are on the floor, you should have everything memorized and focus on the one and only thing that matters – dancing your very best.

Cost

If you are not willing to spend much, then social dancing is for sure to go. Not having to attend any events and the low dance expectations will save you some cash. You can always buy cheap dancing shoes and use about any clothes you have for your practice. You can skip practices with weeks and always come back with a big smile. If you are exited to compete and to be the very best dancer that you can possibly be… I f you are looking forward to every lesson with your instructor and you are always ready to learn some new information (after you practice the old one for hours every day)… If you are ready to skip your wedding anniversary because there is a local dance competition that you have prepared for months (please look at your schedule and find a different comp or you are risking a bit ;))… That simply means that you are a dance competitor and there’s nothing to stop you from your dream. YES, Pro/Am has a cost behind and it’s important to understand it from the beginning of your dance journey. Besides paying for dance lessons and group classes, dance student will need to buy practice clothes (please buy quality practice clothes, since they will be the only one with the proper cut,weight and movement), good practice and competitive shoes (ENGLAND!!!!!), eventually a dress or dresses (depends on how many styles of dancing you are competing in), costumes for the guys, hair and make up for the ladies (possibly for the guys as well), maybe some dance jewelry for the ladies. Every dance event (dance showcase or a dance competition) cost money to attend and the teacher or the studio have to be compensated for their time and commitment. 

The most expensive places to dance at and do dance events are without any doubt the franchise studios (rather not mentioning their names). If you are excited to dance and want to be a good dancer, make sure you find an independent dance studio and don’t forget to do your research before starting your dance journey. As any other business, they are plenty of so called “dance teachers” that should not be teaching you. If you are not getting a clear answer for your dance questions or if you feel no progress (worst is when you are a beginner student and you find out that your “dance teacher” has 2 months of dance experience)  – please find another one…

Last but not least – Should you do a Pro/Am?!?

Many students find that training for a goal, such as competition or a dance show, focuses them and allows them to apply the ‘outside world’s’ ways of measuring results to an art form that has an always moving future. And, allowing you to forgo responsibility for much of the partnering aspect will, as you are being told, allow you to feel like you are concentrating your energy and effort to yourself solely, without the cumbersome issues that real partnering presents – not only the mechanics like compromise, scheduling, and interaction, but also in dance aspects like compromise, interaction, and presentation.

Expense of course is relative in any hobby or pursuit – but if it makes you happy, there is not dollar value that is too great, in my opinion. However, dance is a journey and not a goal, no matter how often your studio ties the memorization of steps and choreography to a specific level or rate of success. You can be a great dancer with very few movements, and a very bad one with millions of steps.

Dancing and performing with your teacher is one the very best things that you can possibly imagine and unless you tried it at least once you will never find out what you’re missing

 

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