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So you’ve got a wedding coming up and you want to impress your judgy Aunt Suzie with your killer dance moves.

But, where to begin?

First, it starts with a mindset.
Learning a new skill always takes time. But it will be worth the investment if you plan on using your dancing more than one occasion.

1. Figure out if you’re learning to dance just to dazzle your audience just once (in your face, Aunt Suzie!) or if you’re learning to dance as a skill that you’ll use for the rest of your life.

If it’s the former, then you may be able to get by with a few lessons of choreography from your instructor.

If you want to learn to be able to dance with your partner or anyone for any occasion, though, you may have to start with the basics. Rather than memorizing a routine as a one-time thing, you’ll need to understand the mechanics of what’s happening with your body and someone else’s when you dance together.

What you want to look like will determine how much time it will take you to reach your goal.
Even learning for a one-time event may take more time than you may think.

2. Don’t procrastinate! Coming in two weeks before your event may work if you come in every day, but for most that’s not terrifically realistic. If you want to feel comfortable on the dancefloor even for a one-time event, take a look at your schedule to see how often you’d be able to get to the studio for a lesson. If it’s only once a week, you may be looking at 3-4 months or even longer beforehand to get yourself prepared.

Dancers may make it look easy, but moving to music with another person takes a lot of brain and body power. While this makes dancing one of the best things you can do to maintain your health, it also means there’s a lot to learn.

The good news? It’s fun! Learning to dance may be more of an investment in time than you thought, but the process should be fun, high energy, and stress-free.

Group classes and practice parties

3. If your studio offers group classes, use them! The more time on the floor (especially if it’s supervised), the better.

A lot of people getting ready for an impending event may shy away from group classes–especially if they’re not going over the dances they work on with their private instructors. While personal instruction is necessary to learn new material, patterns, and timing, group classes are where you get repetition, review, and more practice time understanding how to move your body. It’s a great chance to do the “homework” that your personal instructor may give you and enhance your dancing. As long as the class is at your level, your body will thank you for it!

Real-World Scenarios

4. Get some real-world practice in at parties. Studio parties are a chance to take your dancing out for a test drive before the big event! It is a great chance to learn how you will react with other couples on the floor and without your teacher beside you (though they will be at a safe distance away poised to help!)

Keeping these things in mind will ensure that you have a blast at whatever event you’re preparing for. If dance is something you want to develop as a lifelong skill, start now! You just might inspire Aunt Suzie to take some lessons as well.

Written by Jindalae Suh for Arthur Murray Central New Jersey