BALLROOM Dancing is the most popular pastime in the world. There has been no more striking development in social habits since the war than the rise of dancing to universal popularity. It is enjoyed by every class of the community and it is indulged in in all climates and weathers, no matter whether it be winter or summer, hot or cold, wet or fine.
Dancing is the biggest social asset you can equip yourself with to-day. It leads you to hours of enjoyment where you will have every opportunity of meeting other people. It will take your mind off your troubles and worries. It will offer you the chance of putting on your best clothes and stepping forth into a gay colourful background. That, as any mind doctor will tell you, is a mental tonic.
As an exercise, and for slimming, it is one of the healthiest in the world. It will give you mental poise, physical grace and fitness, apart from the pleasure you will derive from it. And rhythm is a prime essential to life.
There are still numerous people who hesitate about learning to dance. They seem to imagine hey will have to master masses of intricate steps. They look upon dancing as the acquisition of a set of tricks. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The whole point about modern ballroom ancing is that it is built up on natural foundations. Its basis is the walk. If you can walk well to
music with good style and movement you can dance.
Good dancing, like every other sport or pastime, is a question of balance. Balance is the correct carriage of the weight of your body, and I ask my readers to pay particular attention to the chapter on this subject. It is the all-important factor, the fundamental principle of ballroom dancing.
There is no prancing on tiptoe to-day. The good dancers glide in a smooth, silky style, effortless and simple. Dancing is “streamlined”. Yet it is so easy to learn, providing you are taught correctly in the first place.
The idea is still prevalent that dancing is always changing, that one no sooner learns a few steps than they are old-fashioned. Well, let me contradict that fallacy once and for all. Dancing is not doing numerous steps and being thoroughly up-to-date. It is possible to know the latest steps and yet be a shocking dancer. To dance well is to move well, to have balance and style, to use your body, legs and feet correctly, heel and toe in the right place; to have rhythm, and to keep your muscles controlled and relaxed: to let your legs swing from the hips like pendulums, and to make everything look easy and effortless. That is dancing. It is not What you dance, it is How you dance that matters.
Dance-teaching to-day is standardized. This means that wherever you learn to dance in Britain, on the Continent, and in the Colonies—if you go to recognized teachers who are qualified—you will receive the same basic instruction. No longer does every teacher or school have their own steps, and technique. Every good teacher sets out to teach you good style, balance and movement.
No trick figures or stunts, freak dances or odd styles. Like tennis, football, cricket, golf or any other sport you like to name, there is a reason for everything you do; movements are not a passing fashion or the current whim of any teacher. The basic principles are fundamental and cannot be changed. They are as permanent as the law of gravity.
There are, of course, always advanced variations that the good and enthusiastic dance fan can add to his repertoire, but the basis is always the same.
My advice to beginners is to master the elementary figures of the Quickstep and Waltz. Learn to do them with ease, good style and balance, then you will have something that will last you a lifetime.
The English style (as it is known on the Continent) has been copied and taught by practically every good dance teacher throughout the world because it is admittedly the best. This book will guide you along the right lines to acquiring it. Afterwards go to a good teacher to consolidate what you have learnt from these pages.