Hi, I'm Brian Fortuna
I'm going to take you from beginner to dancer in one easy hour.
As a former pro dancer on both Dancing with The Stars (in the USA) and Strictly Come Dancing (in the UK), it's safe to say that I absolutely LOVE teaching people how to dance.
I've taught people from age 6 to 96, big and small, tall and short, fit and not-so-fit. I've taught celebrities, I've taught people in wheelchairs. I think that really goes to show that there are no limitations on learning to dance – absolutely ANYONE can do it.
And I'm not kidding about the one hour thing. Partner dance really can be easy and quick to learn. For a few minutes of your time, I can show you some incredibly simple moves with my Brian's Beginners programs.
It's just not cool anymore to say that you're a bad dancer or can't dance at all. So I want to make it as easy as possible for you to learn to dance.
Dancing with someone in your arms is a beautiful experience. You won't regret learning how to do it.
In this guide I cover Ballroom and Latin dance for complete beginners, which means you can now learn the first few steps in the privacy and convenience of your own home. What could be easier?
But I have to admit that, when I started dancing, I got nervous. When I first went to partner dance lessons as a kid, and was expected to dance with the girls, there were a few sweaty palms!
I was really nervous about holding the girls. But once you are taught properly what a dance hold is, it can feel very natural very quickly. And it's well worth learning.
Because I have to tell you that there's no greater feeling in the world than taking a partner by the hand, walking out onto a dance floor with them, taking them in your arms and dancing together.
It's the most incredible sensation. I really want you to experience that. And you can if you follow some simple advice.
Firstly, it's important to stress that you don't always need a partner! To start with you'll learn your own individual steps, so you don't dance with a partner straightaway. Which means you can do the online programs alone, learning just your part if you wish.
It's important that you get your own steps and timings right first, before you try to put the dance together with a partner. So, in the online lessons and in my 'real life' classes, you'll always see me keep the guys and the girls quite separate.
I teach each step for the women's timing with just the girls. Then I teach the men's timing with just the guys. It's only when everybody is comfortable with their own steps that I then bring couples together and show them the hold.
It's after all that, that people dance together. So there's quite a lot to learn before you ever touch your dance partner.
I know that touching someone, holding them in a dance hold for the first time, can be quite an intimidating experience for some. Especially if you're not accustomed to lots of physical contact with others.
But having the chance to learn your own steps first will give you a big boost in confidence, so by the time you are actually in a dance hold, you should be feeling OK about the steps that you'll be doing. That's the way I teach, anyway! And that's exactly what you'll see in my online classes.
And now I guess it's time to address that one big issue with partner dancing. It's the OUCH! factor.
OK, so, exactly how likely is it that you're going to end up stepping on your partner's feet? And the answer is... Not at all likely if you've learnt your own individual steps well.
All the partner dance steps are designed to be danced in unison. So if they're done properly, there should be no chance to step on your partner's foot.
For example, when a guy steps forward, the lady steps back. So you're never going to be coming straight at each other.
Watch this clip of how I explain the hold to a class of complete beginners.
These folks have never danced ballroom before, and up to this point I've just taught the ladies their basic Waltz step and separately, I taught the guys theirs. Now it's time to come together and dance the step with partners so I'll showing them the hold.
You'll see exactly how the step is designed to move and avoid any accidental clashes. See how easy it is to follow along...
Something to bear in mind when you go to partner dance classes is that it's likely the teacher will rotate the class. I do this and many other great teachers do too, so it's worth mentioning here.
If you go to open or public lessons, or come to one of my classes, you'll find that, once you've danced a new step with your partner, the teacher will then instruct the class to change partners. And probably not just once, but several times.
So you could find yourself dancing with maybe five or six completely different partners who you don't know.
I have to say that this is a great way to improve your dancing quickly.
Some people will be better at the steps than others, some better at the hold than others, some better at the timing. And having to accommodate all these differences in style, technique and ability is a really fast and effective way to progress your own dancing.
As I said, this is a common and good way of teaching partner dance. So if the thought of dancing with other people puts you off, perhaps stick with the online classes and your partner at home, or perhaps a few private lessons until you're confident enough to dance with strangers.
And don't feel bad if you find dancing with others awkward at first. I'll tell you a little secret: some of the celebrities that have been on Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with The Stars have found being in close proximity with a dance partner really weird at first. Yes, they do get used to it after a while, but it's been a very strange experience for some to start off with.
So don't worry at all if it feels a little odd at the beginning.
And of course, if you ever feel that you are too far out of your comfort zone, you're not going to enjoy the dancing. And the first rule of partner dance is to have fun!
So stay with what you're comfortable with.
However, if you can take your confidence in your hands and go for it, you should!
You'll get an immense amount out of dancing with others and it'll hugely improve your dancing ability. It's also a fabulous way of meeting people!
One more word about partners, and that is; it's not necessary to have a partner with you to attend a partner dance class.
Because the teachers generally rotate the partners as described above, there'll always be someone for you to dance with.
Sometimes, you'll even get to dance with the teacher, which is a fantastic opportunity to learn quickly.
Also, some classes have experienced dancers in them to partner the pupils, so you'll always have a partner to dance with and often they'll be much more experienced than you, which is a great way to learn.
Partner dance truly is a wonderful thing to experience. It's a beautiful feeling to be able to dance across the floor with another person in your arms.
So why not give it a go? You'll be glad you did...
Best wishes and happy dancing