How To Get Better: Drills and More :.

First off, keep taking classes, private lessons, watch videos, immerse yourself. Take from as many different instructors as possible, because there is no one right way and the more ways you know the better all around you get.

Here are some drills you can practice on your own.

Doorknob Drill:

Try tying a scarf to a doorknob of a closed door. Gain a certain amount of tension with the other end of the scarf and then dance around without changing the tension of the scarf. Dance closer and farther from the door and keep the same tension. Practice with different amounts of tension, as light as a feather, heavy like a bowling ball, and everything in between, but whatever tension you start with, try to keep it the same until you purposefully choose to change it. Put on a song and do the same thing and try to be musical as you dance to the song; change the tension depending on the feeling of the song. After doing this with a closed door for several songs, open the door, and try to do the same thing but now the door will move according to your movement, and you will have to move according to it's movement. Remember, try to keep the tension the same. Keep going back and forth between practicing with a closed and an open door because they are both important parts of the dance.

Walking Drills:

Think of dancing like walking. Practicing walking forward, backward, sideways, circular in a spot (be exact... keep the center of your body on a dime *like you are on a rotisserie grill, NOT one foot on a dime and pivoting* - although that is good practice too), and circular in a direction (be exact... *rotisserie* rotating while keeping your overall direction on a straight line). Notice the control of your normal walking; you probably don't tip, stumble, bounce unevenly, etc... Now, slightly change your walking posture to a running posture and move the same ways, forward, backward, sideways, circular, circular in a direction. Try to create the same feelings as when you were walking. Notice the way your foot rolls from heel to toe (moving forward) and toe to heel (moving backward). Take your time moving from one foot to the next. Put on an extremely slow song 60 beats per minute and walk to the rhythm without adding in extra steps (this should be somewhat easy). Now do your lindy footwork without traveling in any directions (step, step, triple step) and 6 count footwork (Step Step, triple step, triple step) to this really slow song. Make sure that you don't add in any extra steps (this should be a little harder). Now try moving with your footwork in all of the above listed directions. DON'T ADD IN EXTRA STEPS!!! (this should be harder)

Triple Rhythm:

The triple step is probably one of the most important movements to master and also one of the most difficult because it has a "hidden rhythm" that most beginning dancers don't recognize or understand. I will try to explain it as best as possible over email. If you were to divide the beats evenly like this, 1 & 2 (if you have studied music I will explain it a little differently later on), with the & sign being the exact middle point between the two beats, then if you were to put your feet down (change weight) on the 1, and then on the &, and then on the 2, you would NOT get a triple step. As an exercise, try putting on a Latin cha cha song and singing 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 & 1.... You will hear your rhythm match a CHA CHA CHA rhythm. Now try listening to a classic swing song from Count Basie, this rhythm won't work as well. Swing rhythms are divided by an extra rhythm between the beats. So, the rhythm looks like 1 & a 2, so the exact middle of the beat comes between what I will call the "&" and the "a"; but in swing songs there is usually nothing accented at this time in the music. The accents come on the "&" and the "a", and most often on the "a". Try listening to a swing song and singing 1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 (speak evenly so each symbol gets 1/3 of the beat)... or also just 1 a 2 a 3 a 4....etc and you will notice these rhythms fit the swing music better. So when we do a triple step, we don't take the 2nd step in the triple step until just a little after the middle of the beat so our steps are on the 1, and then on the "a", and then on the 2 (or on the 3, and then on the "a", and then on the 4, etc, etc...). Most beginners either do a CHA CHA rhythm of 1 & 2 or sometimes even syncopate the rhythm too early and do a 1 & 2 rhythm. The swing basic rhythm is 1 a 2 and is an essential part to becoming a top dancer. If you take more classes, you will notice the "a 2" or what we often refer to as the "BaDum" rhythm in many other moves as well, like the "kick ball change" or rhythmically the "kick...ball.change". (Also, if you have studied music previously then you might think of regular music in terms of "1 y & a 2", where each beat is divided in to 4 parts; 1,y,&,a. If this is how you think of music then swing actually has 1 less rhythm - only 3 parts; 1,&,a but if you haven't studied music, just ignore this comment). Practice clapping these rhythms to different swing songs and non-swing songs to hear how they work and don't work with different songs. Make up your own rhythms using the Swing rhythm structure of "1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a" or the non-swing structure of "1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &" and try clapping these rhythms to different songs. Finally, try to put these rhythms in to your dancing, in to your feet, your hips, or any part of your body you want. Make these drills as simple or as difficult as you want.

Recheck & Retune:

Just remember to continually recheck and retune the ideas you learn because sometimes it is very easy to understand them but that doesn't mean that we actually do what we understand. Many of the techniques we talk about are things that make sense in our minds but even the best dancers in the world struggle to be consistent with them 100% of the time.

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