Introduction: How to Use this Book
First learn to dance.
~ Sheldon Weitzen, social dancer
Congratulations on your willingness to explore your dance experience in this uniquely, original way.
Anyone that can walk can learn how to dance with a partner.
You will learn how to lead and follow every step in every social dance.
First Learn to Dance
When I was young, my dad asked me if I was going to a dance at my high school. I said, "No, I do not like to dance."
He laughed at me. He said, "That is like saying you do not like to play the piano.
You have no idea what playing the piano is like.
You can say you you do not know how to play the piano, but you cannot say you do not like playing the piano.
The same with dancing.
You have no idea what dancing is like.
You can say you do not know how to dance, but you cannot say you do not like to dance."
He finished, "First learn to dance, then you can say you do not like it."
For the last few decades I have been learning to dance.
After a fling with disco in college, which I have not gotten over, my first organized dancing was Israeli folk dancing.
The first thing I learned was to enjoy the company, enjoy the music, get some exercise and have fun. Was that four things?
Choreography Is Not the Answer
Next I tried salsa and the antecedents of this book were born.
I made an attempt to document the complex choreography, but the book stalled.
How we grow and change.
I like to think my intuition rightly understood choreography was not the answer.
This book is the antithesis of rote choreography.
Along my way I have found dance teachers to be excellent.
Dance teachers are suprisingly consistent, regardless of the dance they are teaching.
This consistency reflects universal truths about how two people move together to music.
However, this consistency includes being surprisingly vague about communicating with a partner.
Until this book, there was no set of precise rules defining how to unambiguously communicate in social dancing.
Communication Instead of Choreography
When I found myself taking on a leadership role in both Israeli and swing dancing, I focused on communication rather than choreography.
In organizing the mass of information I had accumulated, a logical method emerged.
I saw that communicating with a dance partner followed a few simple principles, easily learned by anyone, even novice dancers.
I have codified these principles into the method I call Harmony℠ Dancing.
Every now and then you come across an extraordinary follower that can follow nearly everything you throw at her.
Whether she knows or not, subconsciously she is using a simple set of rules that allow her to follow every step.
Similarly, the best leaders are using those same subconscious signals.
Dancing happens too fast for conscious thought.
People communicate using subconscious cues.
Harmony℠ elucidates these subconscious cues
into an easy to understand language.
The extraordinary effectiveness of Harmony℠
is a testament to the accuracy of the language.
Once you understand the language, you will be able to train yourself to
communicate as effortlessly in dancing as you speak in every day life.
Important Insights Explained
provides an original, comprehensive explanation of how to dance socially with a partner.
Some of the insights you learn include:
- Definition of social dancing
- Ten foundational values so you have a clear understanding of what is important for social dancing
- Three laws and three signals that let you communicate every step unambiguously
- Examination of balance so you understand why balance is the most important skill in dancing
- Examination of the two types of horizontal movement so you understand why every step can be communicated unambiguously
- Examination of pressure and tension so you understand why you should not push and pull on your partner
- Explanation of why the man can communicate the woman's choreography
- Explanation of why the woman cannot communicate the man's choreography
- Definition of the man's responsibilities
- Definition of the woman's responsibilities
- Definition of signals in relation to horizontal and vertical movement so you know when and where to move
- Definition of Woman's Line of Dance so the woman can dance with precision
- Definition of the three positions, with precise rules for connectiong and breaking the connection
- Precise rules for when the woman follows the man
- Precise rules for when the man waits for the woman
- Precise rules of when the woman stops her motion
- Precise rules for when to maintain and adjust frame
- Procedure for how to step for effective communication
- How to communicate rhythm changes
- How to communicate unambiguously without using visual clues
- How to communicate unambiguously visually when not physically connected
- How to communicate unambiguously in choreographed dances
- Guidelines for navigating the dance floor to improve safety
- Guidelines for etiquette in the social dance setting to make your group more respectful
How To Use This Book
This is the rule book for how to dance with a partner following
Refer back to this book to clarify issues.
This book intends to list all the rules needed to communicate with your partner.
Each rule is presented in the ABCD sections in highlighted text.
Explanations of the rules follow.
If you find that needed rules are missing,
unnecessary rules are included or there are logical inconsistencies,
the author welcomes your feedback on these, as well as other concerns.
The method for dancing with a partner is quite simple,
using only three laws and three direction signals that anyone can understand.
In the Appendix you can find a one page
You can also find a complete
of the logical system.
Print the Rules Sheet and Rules List now, so you have these tools for quick reference.
The first thing you should do is memorize the Rules Sheet.
Put these simple principles into practice now however you understand them.
An overview of the method of communicating every step is presented
in the chapter
Language of Partner Dancing.
This prepares you for the details in the ABCD sections.
Although each principle you learn is helpful,
to understand the method in full, you have to make your way through all the ABCDs.
Only then will you know how to communicate every step unambiguously.
This book presents the ideas in the order in which they logically build on one another.
Read the chapters in order so you understand why the method works.
Any information that is not essential to your understanding the method of
dancing with a partner is in the Appendix.
- covers in brief the ABCDs that follow.
You learn the definition of social dancing.
The overview introduces the objective of social dancing,
the main problem people have in social dancing
and the solution to that problem.
The overview introduces you to the material for the first time.
The overview prepares you for learning the ABCDs in detail in the succeeding sections.
- A for Attitude
- establishes the ten foundational principles.
You learn what you are doing and why.
You learn what the two big, bad things are that you can correct to immediately improve your dancing.
You learn the three social, three dance and four communication values that form the foundation of social dancing.
You learn to use these principles to help you apply what you learn in your dance classes.
- B for Balance
- helps you to understand your balance,
the most important skill in dancing.
You learn the Law of Balance, with the profound implications for how you dance with a partner.
You learn the reasons why you can communicate unambiguously with a partner.
You learn how to move your body to communicate with your partner.
- C for Connection
- examines how you connect both physically and emotionally with your partner, the music and your community.
You learn the Law of Connection.
You learn how to use the connection to communicate with your partner.
You learn the precise rules for when to maintain, break and disassociate your frame.
You learn the three positions, when to connect and when to break connection.
- D for Direction
- covers how to communicate what the woman is do.
You learn the Law of Direction, the deep revelation that allows you to communicate every step in every dance.
You learn the three direction signals.
You learn where the woman is to go.
You learn how the woman knows to stop.
- summarizes the most important elements,
reviewing how the pieces fit together.
The Summary reinforces what you learned in the Overview and the ABCDs.
- contains supporting information.
This book makes extensive use of basic principles
to help you understand the reasons behind what you are doing.
Pay attention to the principles.
They guide you when you have questions.
You will find principles highlighted throughout the text.
You can find a complete list in the Appendix under Rules Summary.
This book helps you remember key ideas.
This book highlights key ideas as topic headings.
Anecdotes about the key idea, in set off text, often follow.
Typically short paragraphs, in basic text, then instruct you in the key idea.
This book makes extensive use of catch phrases to help you remember the key ideas.
Repeat these to yourself, or your class if you are a teacher, like a mantra.
They help you to focus on the key ideas.
This book makes extensive use of stories to illustrate the points in the text.
Stories bring the key ideas to life, reinforcing your memory.
The anecdotes, when not attributed, are the author's.
Points to Remember
At the end of each chapter is a list of the most important points to remember.
Make sure you understand these before proceeding.
Use these to review the material in the book.
At times, certain nouns are capitalized when they refer to a technical term.
These terms are defined in the Appendix under
In English, capitalization typically indicates the beginning of a sentence.
These terms are not capitalized consistently,
because too much capitalization disrupts the English reader.
Capitalization for technical terms is used to introduce the technical term,
as section headings, and to avoid confusion
between the use of the technical term and the common use of the word.
Read this Book More than Once
Read How To Dance With a Partner more than once.
Each time you read the book, as your dancing progresses,
you will have new insights.
If you do not understand something, wait.
When you are ready, what you missed will make sense.
Like learning anything new,
do not try to get everything.
Try to get anything.
Learning to Dance is Only a Matter of Time
Training your body to dance to music takes time.
For new dancers, if you dance once a week,
you should expect to feel like a beginner for a couple of years.
You only get to be a beginner once.
Enjoy the process.
Remember, everyone who shows up learns to dance, as long as you keep showing up with a good attitude.
By following the principles in this book,
you can be confident that each time you dance, you get better by developing good habits.
Keep Taking Classes
In the salsa classes I was taking, all the women dropped out after level six.
The reason they gave, "I just have to follow. I do not need to know any more patterns."
Often there are more women than men in the beginning classes.
Many women drop out of the classes when they reach the intermediate level,
because they feel they are only learning patterns.
While technical skills should be taught from day one,
often in lower level classes, many teachers focus on patterns.
You should not think you are at a dance class to memorize patterns.
The patterns serve as useful pedagogy tools for learning skills for how to dance with a partner.
As the level moves to intermediate and advanced, the instruction moves from patterns to technique.
Rather than learning more patterns, you learn how to improve the quality of your movement,
dance more in sync with your partner, dance with more style and dance with more musicality.
In higher levels, there are often more men than women.
The men that keep going to class move beyond the women that drop out.
The women that drop out cannot keep up, though they may not know,
because the advanced men lead to the level of their partner.
Whether you are a leader or follower, if you want to improve, keep taking classes.
Trust Your Teachers
Do not worry about your progress.
That is your teacher's problem.
If you want to learn to dance, you have one job.
Show up to class.
Eventually you will be dancing as good as everyone else.
Seek Enlightenment Everywhere
There are wonderful teachers all over the world, with an incredible wealth of knowledge.
You can learn from everyone, even if you do not agree with everything they are doing.
The burden is on you to seek what is right for you when you learn from others.
Different people will speak to you differently at different times in your life.
On your dance journey, seek enlightenment everywhere.
If you want to learn faster, seek out small groups where you get personal attention from the instructor.
The fastest way to improve is with personal feedback.
Group Leaders Need Feedback Too
Support your teachers.
They need feedback too.
Let them know what they can do to make the dance sessions better for you.
Do the Simple Things Well
The steadiest way to improve is to build your foundation.
Work on your fundamentals.
You will be well rewarded.
Find Something that is Hard for You to Do
The adding up of small advancements is how you improve your skills.
At some point, you maximize a skill.
After that, there is not much room for improvement.
When you go to a dance class,
if what you are learning is easy,
you are only refining something you already know how to do.
To get to a new level you have to find something that is hard for you to do.
Destroy Your Bad Habits to Reform at a Higher Level
After dancing for years, I felt like I could
do anything on the dance floor, until I saw myself on video.
To my embarrassment, I looked like a big block of wood.
"How did that happen?", I wondered.
I felt so fluid.
You may be comfortable in your bad habits, but they are holding you back.
When the music comes on, you do what you always have done.
You have to intentionally seek out change.
In a sense, you have to destroy your self to reform at a higher level.
Think for Yourself
Andy, I find myself using what I learned from you everywhere I can, in the rest of my life too, not just at dancing.
~ Jim Rust, folk dance instructor
Learn from everyone.
Think for yourself.
People have a tendency to overestimate what they know, including me.
I have not done a scientific research study.
I am not a professional in biomechanics.
The explanations in this book are from my own experience.
They are only my interpretation.
the method in this book
is astoundingly effective.
Take these ideas on their own merit.
Be critical of them.
Put them to work for you as you see fit.
This is a practical rule book for social dancers.
The descriptions are technical enough for dancers to perform as needed.
We have omitted technicalities that are not necessary for social dance instruction.
Points To Remember
- You will learn how to lead and follow every step in every social dance.
- Learn to dance before you say you do not like dancing.
- Communicating with a dance partner follows a few simple principles, easily learned by anyone, even novice dancers.
- This book elucidates the subconscious cues dancers use to communicate.
- This the rule book for Harmony℠.
- Print and memorize the Rules Sheet.
- Learning to dance is only a matter of time.
- Keep taking classes.
- Trust your teachers.
- The burden is on you to seek what is right for you when learning from others.
- Seek out small groups to get personal attention.
- Support your instructor.
- Work on your fundamentals. Do the basics well.
- To get to a new level, find something that is hard for you to do.
- Intentionally seek out change.
- Think for yourself.
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The Only Method of Communicating Every Step in Every Social Dance