Are dance videos and DVDs tools of inspiration and knowledge that will fill you with confidence and loads of invaluable dancing tips? Or are they unforgivably cheesy exercises likely to put you off dancing forever?
They can be either. And that's why you need to choose your programs very carefully.
The idea of dance videos is to give you a true taste of the fundamentals of dance.
And to give you enough knowledge and confidence to go to a live class and fit right in.
Here's where you learn how to get that from a dance DVD and how to avoid the useless, cheesy type.
Here are some of the most recognizable types of dance videos.
Firstly, you have the Hollywood production style.
This isn't a dance class at all. It is a thoroughly rehearsed production, with disco-tastic lights and futuristic sets. Basically, a pop video. And while you may enjoy watching it once, it is unlikely to teach you a great deal about dance. This is mainly because none of the people featured in it need any instruction – they are all experienced dancers. So the moves aren't broken down far enough for the complete beginner to grasp.
Secondly, you have the other end of the scale.
The dance video done on a budget of five dollars. Someone who has borrowed a video camera, set it up in their living room or local church hall and 'taught' dance moves to it. It might have some useful moves broken down well, but it's not exactly aspirational. It's not likely to get you up out of your armchair and desperate to get to a class as soon as possible.
Lastly, thankfully, there is a different breed - the dance class documentary.
It is this type of dance instruction DVD that is far more use than
any other. It is this type that is actually going to show you dance moves that are well explained, but will also show you what a real beginner's dance class should be like.
So our TOP dance videos tip is...
Use a dance DVD that most closely resembles a beginners class.
This way, you get to see real beginners being taught at the true starter level. It feels like you are in the class with them.
We should point out that, in the name of research, we have sat through a great many learn-to-dance videos. And we mean just that. We have sat through them. Unmotivated to join in. Uninspiring productions that were corny or patronizing or both. We felt talked down to, excluded and bored.
But dance documentaries have always made us
want to join in with them. And that's why all of our own learn to dance
classes were filmed in exactly this way.
What is the point
of trying to pick up some moves from one of the first two videos
described above, and then getting to a class and finding that the moves
are taught completely differently?
You need to have been taken through a class in order to get the confidence required to see you through your first lesson. So you need a dance video that is like a documentary of a beginners dance class.
There aren't many like this, but all ours are.
In no particular order, here are a few of the reasons why learning at home to begin with is a good idea.
It is your own private lesson that enables you to join a class but remain invisible. It has no embarrassment risk – as long as you make sure you've got the house to yourself.
It means that you can try doing a class before you commit to a course of lessons. And with that in mind, it is certainly cheaper
to do one class at home with a video than to sign up for a whole course
only to realize after your first 'live' class that the dance style
isn't what you thought it was, or isn't for you.
It is fabulously convenient. You don't have to leave home to do it and you can switch it on at a time that suits you.
You can do a dance video in any old clothes you choose. You should pay attention to whatever advice the program gives you in terms of what is suitable to wear. But most dance video lessons can be done while wearing anything you like – as long as it gives you freedom of movement. So, apart from buying the video, there is no kit or shoes to pay for.
Once you've done a dance DVD lesson all the way through and know its content, it is possible to dip in and out of it a little. If there are any moves that you find too hard, you can take them at your own pace and can pause and rest if you want to without feeling self-conscious.
If it has a posture check or a good stretching warm up, you could just do this for 10 minutes every so often to keep your posture in good shape.
You can do a learn-to-dance video over and over, as many times as you need to build up your confidence, strength and stamina.
And of course it enables you to try out different dance classes that maybe aren't available in your local area.
A really good dance instruction video is an invaluable aid to learning dance. It can teach you not only the basics of the dance, but will also show you how a good teacher should teach and what a good class should feel like.
Good dance instruction DVDs always motivate you to get on your feet and join in. This is great – it is exactly the result that any dance teacher wants; that you feel moved to join in.
But there's a little bit of preparation you need to do first...
Follow any advice given on what you should wear. If there's none, just fling on something comfortable, like jogging pants and a tee shirt.
How much space will you need? Do you need to shift the furniture around a bit?
Do you need any props? Like a chair back to use as a barre in Ballet?
Try to get your space worked out and everything you need around you before you begin.
And always have a bottle of water nearby.
Make sure it's quiet. If you get halfway through and are working out well (heart rate is up, sweating etc), you can't answer a phone call. You'll go cold without cooling down properly and will end up stiff and sore. So turn your phones off.
Always follow any introduction or warm up section carefully.
And once you start, do try to do the whole program right the way through, including the cool down if there is one.
Learning to dance at home isn't the whole picture. Unless you go to a class, you'll never have your moves corrected, nor progress your dancing at all.
But doing an instructional dance DVD can be a huge boost to your confidence and can actually be the motivating factor for you to finally sign up for those dance lessons at your local studio.
We believe that if you do a good dance video at home first, you'll be more inclined to take up dancing and to get the most out of it, right from your very first lesson.
Choose a great learn-to-dance DVD and get dancing right now.
So, you might think that watching a local dance class before you sign up is a good idea. But is it? Find out next...