Advice To A Ballroom Dance Novice

By Cecilia Engelberg

Dear novice student,

Although it has been many wonderful years since I first started to learn ballroom dance as a novice, I may have some solid advice for you; actually some of it may be more airy by now.  However I still remember what it felt like to be brand new learning ballroom dancing.

We never ever stop learning no matter how long ago we started, with stops and starts all along the way, but let’s see if I can help. 

 Your first lesson requires two important actions:

  1. Smile and be kind; 

This is so simple and easy but so very important for your first   experience that may be or will be the beginning of a beautiful, dynamic process with a lovely give and receive with your instructor. 

You might be nervous because you are so excited to be finally doing something 

you have been thinking about for years (my case), or you have been given a gift by someone who loves you and knows you have mentioned a thousand times you want to learn ballroom, or you have a wedding to go to, or you are the wedding couple!!  Just smile and be gracious.

  1.   Allow the instructor to ask you the questions he or she has to ask to find out where you are in dancing:

Do you have some ballroom experience? Do you have any dance experience at all?

 For a wedding couple, the instructor will want to know what music you choose and will show you what dance is best for your music.

If they know your experience and goals, they can teach you better

Nervousness makes some people chatterboxes (I know because I am one), but my advice is not to ask too many personal questions at first of your instructors, unless they invite you to do so.        

  1.   Be honest about your goals and your abilities early on even if you are not sure of them.

You and your instructor will find out together what works best for you


  1.   Be open minded but tell your instructor if you have limitations of any kind. 

He or she never wants you to have pain or discomfort and although they are very talented in many ways, reading your mind is not one of them.       


  1. Do not judge your every step 

This is one of my problems so I know! Your instructor is there to teach you, not judge you.  Do not criticize yourself!  You are there to learn. Teachers love teaching you. You are learning to move to the music, a process that never ends. 

Couples, try not to criticize each other unless you are joking and having a good laugh.

6.   Do not worry, but feel the joy of learning to dance ballroom.


  1.   Be patient. 

The ability to dance will come. Sometimes we do not know our own  potential to dance or perform. So when an instructor brings it out in us and shows us how far we have come, it is magical!  Then we are hooked.


  1. Have fun and enjoy!!

It’s a crazy fun journey, so don’t get too caught up in the losses but celebrate the wins. 

  1. Always say thank you after each lesson. You probably feel it so just say it. Those two words mean so much.


Guess what I discovered writing these points out on paper. These are things all dancers need to do every time we dance, from complete novice to lifelong dancers.  

Let’s get dancing!


Whether you are wishing to advance in your career, grow in your personal relationship, boost your learning potential, or advance your horsemanship consider a trip to Social Graces Dance Studio in Berryville, VA. Tell them you are there for some ballroom dance cross training. You won’t regret it.