We started learning dance as a coule about one year ago, taking one private lesson and two group lessons each week. We Have made some progress but feel learning dance together as a couple actually slow down each other, for neither of us could really help improving the other person's skill. Besides we each has different things to work on. We are wondering if we take some separate lessions between the together ones will help? What is the best way to talk to our teacher?
Your experience is similar to mine. My wife and I found that our progress improved when we began taking solo private lessons in combination with lessons together. Each week we currently take one lesson together and my wife also takes a solo lesson with her male instructor with whom she also participates in pro-am competition.
I am rather more competitive. I take at least three private lessons each week plus any group lessons I can find. Some of the time I take solos with my female instructor with whom I too compete pro-am, however, I have an amateur competition partner We take private coaching sessions as often as we are able.
My regimen may be considerably more strenuous than you are interested in but I can assure you that the rate of progress is much, much greater. While I am now rather more advanced than my wife our partnership has improved tremendously and for several reasons. She learns a great deal in her privates as do I so we can use our lessons together to work on partnership skills more than new figures. As a result of all the work I do I am much more skilled as leader in partnership with my wife.
You probably need to define your goals then determine the amount of time and money you are prepared to dedicate to achieving those goals. Should you and your partner decide to take solo instruction in addition to your current lessons I cannot imagine any studio being unwilling to cooperate.
What ever you decide to do, make sure it remains enjoyable.
Thank you very much for your valuable advice! I am so glad you guys have come to the similar ideas. I will talk to my husband about your experiences, especially your thoughts on improving partnership skills, and then talk to the studio about the additional solo instruction.
Jongleur. If you are having lessons always as a pair, that is not the way to go. The male must have time with a lady professional and the partner with a male professional. Also what is recomended is, as the lady is being taught the man should watch and pay particulat attention to what is being taught. The same applies when the male is being taught. I think among the top teachers they would all agree that to have an hours lesson. Then to have an hours break to reabsorb what was taught. Then to have another hour to brush up on what was first shown. Expensive sure . Time consuming yes. Cheaper in the long run. Most likely.
Jongleur. O.Z. has given you more to think about. Learning about both sides of the partnership has great value even to the extent of trying the opposite role. Pros know both leader and follower roles although they may not be as proficient at both. I spend most of my time with a female pro but I also find it useful to take instruction from a male pro from time to time.
Learning ballroom and latin dance can be a huge undertaking. Keep in mind that your physical fitness will affect your ability to execute the elements of dance. Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000-Hour Rule points out the magnitude of your task if your goal is to become expert. The key for most of us is to establish our goals and what success we can reasonably expect then taylor an instruction, practice and evaluation schedule to achieve our goals. Inexperience makes it difficult to do this so you need to have confidence that your instructors are guiding you appropriately.
Some instructors will encourage you to try competitive dancing and working toward a competitive event often focuses objectives. However, it does not follow necessarily that you will become a good social dancer as a result. My wife and I do not compete together. When asked why, we simply reply that we prefer to remain married.
Keep asking questions and trying different things until you find what works for you.
My wife and I are fast approaching our fifth "anniversary" of taking ballroom lessons, so I do have some understanding of your situation. Here is our "method" of dancing:
We started off just taking private lessons together, as a couple. After a few months, we both decided that we would like to try competitions. Also, we decided that we wanted to dance competitively in pro/am respectively, plus as a amateur couple. This decision meant that we would have to each take separate private lessons with our respective teacher, and also take lessons together.
Our method continues to this day. We both take lessons separately with our respective teachers and together with our "lead" teacher. In our case, my wife has far exceeded my ability, due partially to the difference in ages (I'm in my 60's, and she is quite younger) and work schedules (she has more time). We have completed 12 competitions and we are packing to go to another competition next week.
My wife is definitely better than I am, having gained "silver" level in many of her dances, competing in both International Ballroom and Latin plus American Smooth and Rhythm. In fact, she just returned from competing in the NDC (National Dance Championships) last week. Meanwhile, I just "struggle" along with American Smooth and Rhythm. She takes about 3 to 5 private lessons a week plus group dance classes and I do 2 privates a week plus group classes, plus 2 private lessons a week as a couple. With her experience, she has taught me how to lead better because she understands how to tell me what my body movements signal to a lady.
Through it all, we have managed to maintain our excitement of dancing together, still competing as a couple, and being awarded Best Amateur Couple in many of our competitions. Yes, we both have very competitive spirits, but we can also channel our competitiveness separately or together.
Thank you all for sharing and advising! I really appreciate your time and kindness. I've truly learned a lot from your guys!
oldpartner, it is interesting that competitive dancing is the next question I was about to ask. We've actually already attended one big event at the very beginning and somehow made a leap in our progress. But as you pointed out, it does not follow necessarily our goal of becoming good social dancers. I do see that we need to figure out an overall systematic strategy in a long term, although we may still try competitive dancing from time to time to maintain our excitement of dancing.
Jongleur: There are many ways to look at things. You might say there's competition and there's COMPETITION!
The very process of selecting a comp, choosing dances and levels at which to compete then preparing for the event has a way of focusing everything. Simply dancing in a comp is an experience I would recommend for almost every serious dancer. At most comps you can dance pro-am or am-am in North American division and do it just for fun.
Then there is International Standard and Latin competition. Selecting an amateur partner, committing to support each other, spending the time to develop your technique to the highest level you are able may be something quite different. You are constrained to a strict syllabus and dance selection at each level. Repeatedly exposing yourselves to judges scrutiny, each time trying to improve upon your previous ranking, often against the same couples with the same goals can be difficult. Some thrive on this diet, others wither.
Whatever you choose to do you selected the right words: "maintain our excitement." To the extent that competition does this, great! Have fun!
I am glad some couples responded and was really glad they agreed with what I would like to say ...
As a single guy I really appreciate the one on one lessons with my instructor. She is an excellent dancer and the way she moves and enjoys dancing is what really drives me to want to dance better. I have found as the guy and needing to learn how to lead my instructor can dance with me and "feel" what I am doing or not doing. Where as dancing in the group classes with women who are themselves just learning the moves don't know what its supposed to "feel" like yet. Those women can't tell me what I'm doing or not doing because they don't even know what they are supposed to be doing yet.
Then I find that different people just learn at different rates anyways. Some people just catch on quicker. I think I've witnessed some of this in watching other couples practice. One of them catch on quicker and winds up being cheated while the other one really struggles to get up to speed. I know of one couple who takes separate lessons, and I know of another one who usually learn at the same time, but both a male and a female instructor are in the practice. So tehy will separate to work on the move with an instructor then come together to practice it together.