"There's a limb dangling next to my body, and I'm not sure if it belongs to me."
"Wait a second, what do you want me to do with my hips exactly?"
There will be points where the terms "Social Dancing" and "Style" seem to live in different hemispheres. This is perfectly normal.
Fortunately for you, Arthur Murray was a pretty innovative guy, the Steve Jobs of the dance world, and he had a pretty early start on this dilemna (1912).
The Arthur Murray Formula For Social Dancing With Style
Stage 1: Feet & Legs
Here's the Rule: Anything closest to the ground has the highest priority
Executive Summary: Knowing where your feet go, how to get them there, and how to make them look nice and not frustrate or confuse your dance partner.
Why This Stage Is Stylish: People standing on the sidelines without dance skills would call anyone on the dance floor stylish.
Recommended Read: 10 Essential Steps To Jump Start Your New Dance Program
Stage 2: Knees & Hips
Here's the Rule: Stage 1 is still the high priority, so anything we do here is a bonus
Executive Summary: Adding things like Hip motion in the latin dances, or Rise and Fall in the ballroom dances gives everything in Stage 1 a more polished and authentic look.
Why This Stage Is Stylish: Any layers that improve the quality of the basic movements in social dancing will give anyone the look of long term dance experience.
Recommended Read: 25 Signs Of Dancing Progress
Stage 3: Torso
Here's the Rule: Stages 1 & 2 only start to stick when Stage 3 is introduced
Executive Summary: Improvements in your topline, or ballroom dance frame, and more rib cage movement in your latin dances are signs of this stage of social dance improvement.
Why This Stage is Stylish: Not only does this stage begin to develop the upper body in ballroom and latin dancing, it also solidifies the earlier stages and pushes them further into the Natural Use Stage.
Recommended Read: Dance Progress Explained - The Arthur Murray Curve Of Learning
Stage 4: Arms & Head
Here's the Rule: You can rent arm styling and head position in earlier levels, but you don't really assume ownership of it until this stage.
Executive Summary: Arm styling and head position may show up earlier in the process, but are less essential than, say, remembering the patterns or the timing. Arriving at this stage puts the previous stages further into long term muscle memory.
Why This Stage Is Stylish: Having your arm out on an underarm turn, or your head in a beautiful promenade position is the icing on the cake.
Recommended Read: The 5 Dysfunctional Comparisons of A Dance StudentLearn More about our Social Dance Programs at Arthur Murray
To the non-dancer, styling doesn't begin until you've got your arm out while doing some "theatrical" facial expressions. [For more on this read: 7 Terrible Tips All Dancers Should Ignore]
Great dancers understand that there is style in every layer of dancing. Just like how a storyteller appreciates the early, humble beginnings of a hero. A pastry chef understands the importance of the initial stages of a recipe. These layers may not be appreciated by the casual observer, but that doesn't make them less important.
So, even if you're renting your arm styling, forgot you had a torso, and are still coming to grips with hip motion - congratulations. You are following the formula, and it only gets better from here.
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