Dance for Beginners

Everything You Need to Know to Begin Learning How to Dance

Ballet teacher helping dancer in dance studio
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Dancing is a fun activity that anyone can enjoy. Yes, everyone can learn how to dance, you just need to take the time and give it a try. Whether you're looking to learn a few new moves for the dance floor, are interested in becoming a professional dancer, or just want to use it as exercise, there are a few things you need to know.

From finding your rhythm to different styles of dance and attending your first class, let's find out how to get you into dance and start moving.

Learning How to Dance

Dance is a wonderful hobby enjoyed by many people throughout the world. Besides being lots of fun, dancing is good for you, both physically and mentally. Anyone can learn to dance... it's a simple matter of learning how to move your body.

One of the first steps you can take is to practice finding a beat in music. The beat establishes a rhythm to which you can move, even if it's just bopping your head at first. Every song has a beat, you just have to recognize it.

Next up is timing. This simply means that you're putting movements to the beat. Timing is key in every style of dance and it's often best when you can just let go and express yourself freely through movements.

Choosing a Dance Style

Ballet, jazz, modern, hip-hop, tap... you can choose from many styles of dance. Nothing says you have to stick with one, either. Maybe you like the expression of modern dance but also enjoy the fun partner work found in swing dancing. You'll quickly discover that learning any style of dance will help you learn another, so feel free to explore.

Many dancers choose to start with ballet. It's a very formal style and good for training your body to move with a certain elegance and flow. The foot and hand positions of ballet also carry over into other styles, so it's really not a bad idea to take a few ballet classes and learn the fundamentals of dancing.

Finding a Great Dance Class

Dance schools are readily available in many cities and towns, so there's likely to be one or two near you. Some are privately owned while others are run by community centers, universities, or local organizations. Check around your area and see what is available. Ask friends about their experience with a school and check to see if you can observe a class or two to get a feel for it.

Whether you're looking to take a tango class at night or enroll your daughter in ballet, it's a good idea to find out a little about the instructor. Like all professions, there are good dance teachers and those who are not as great.

Dancers should feel comfortable with their instructors. It can be an emotional experience as you're often expressing yourself in ways you haven't before, so a good student-teacher relationship is key.

What to Wear to Dance Class

Wearing appropriate attire allows you to feel comfortable and move freely while dancing. Every class is a little different and your instructor may have a specific dress code or recommendations. Yet, there are a few things that most dancers have in their dance bag.

Leotards are pretty standard for many dance classes and they come in a variety of styles and colors. Find one that you're comfortable wearing and, if you like, consider a skirt as well.

Many dancers also choose to wear convertible tights. These ingenious leggings are very comfortable and often much stronger than tights you might wear under your street clothes. The best part is that there's a hole under your feet so you can slip the foot up to your ankle and enjoy the freedom of footless tights during class.

Shoes tend to be very specific to the style of dance. For instance, ballet students will want to own a good pair of ballet slippers. When you're ready for advanced classes, you may need pointe shoes as well. Likewise, tap shoes are specifically worn for tap dancing.

Jazz shoes are a little more universal. They can be part of your jazz class attire and may be worn in modern dance classes as well. These are typically black and have a softer, more flexible sole than standard shoes.

Hair and Makeup

For your hair, you might consider going with a traditional ballerina bun. Yes, there is a trick to wrapping your hair into that tidy little knot. It's a great way to keep it out of your way no matter what style of dance you're doing.

When it comes time for a dance recital, you'll want to learn about applying stage makeup. This is much heavier than you would wear in your everyday life, so get ready to be bold. This ensures the audience can see your features from far away because stage lighting can really wash you out.