Jaimee and Travis Tuft. Photo courtesy of Tuft
Jaimee and Travis Tuft. Photo courtesy of Tuft
Ballroom Blog

Ballroom for Beginners

  • November 14, 2016
  • by Laura Di Orio

Do you watch shows like Strictly Come Dancing and secretly think, “I wish that was me”? The dancers look so glamorous and are having a blast, and the routines are fierce and mesmerising. But you don’t have to keep dreaming any longer. You, too, can learn ballroom and look like a star. It’s never too late to start!

“The benefits of dance are numerous and enjoyed by people of all ages,” says Travis Tuft, who holds the titles of U.S. and World American Smooth Finalist, and U.S. and World Theatrical Arts Champion with his wife and dance partner, Jaimee. “I have students as young as four and students still dancing into their 80s! Absolutely no prior experience is necessary. But if you happen to have dance experience, you’re in luck.”

Travis and Jaimee Tuft. Photo courtesy of TuftSo just how do you get started? Travis and Jaimee suggest googling “ballroom dance studio” to find a studio nearby. Fred Astaire Dance Studio and Arthur Murray International Dance Studio are two popular studios that have many locations across the world. They both have a well-defined program with classes for all ages and levels, according to Travis. But in your search, you may find some local studios with equally qualified instructors, so check out what they offer as well.

“Once you’ve selected a studio and you’re ready to take the plunge, the ideal scenario is to take advantage of both group classes and private lessons simultaneously,” Jaimee suggests. “That way, you can get introduced to the syllabus and steps in your group class and then refine your personal technique and correct any bad habits through one-on-one instruction in your private lessons.”

Worried about not having a partner? Does your significant other have no desire to try it out? Don’t stress! Travis and Jaimee say that while ballroom dance requires a partner, you don’t have to come to the studio with one. It’s easy to meet someone in group classes with whom you can dance or practice. Or you can take private lessons with a professional instructor who can partner you. Won’t you feel like a pro already?!

“The wonderful thing about ballroom dance is not only are you learning a skill, challenging your mind and body, but you’re also building a whole new social network,” Travis says.

So now that you’re set to take a class, what to wear? Don’t worry – you don’t need a full-on, flashy performance costume.

Jaimee says to wear “any activewear or something you feel you can completely move and groove in. I love the latest Capezio activewear line.”

Travis and Jaimee Tuft. Photo by Stephen Marino PhotographyTry some basics like Capezio’s Bra Top with Bratek® support lining or Cutout Bank Top, paired with the Ankle Pant or Capri Workout Pants. For some extra warmth (that won’t be bulky and get in your or your partner’s way), add some 18″ Legwarmers (available in a variety of colours) to keep your calves toasty.

For a little more flair, the Sleeveless Ruffle Top is flattering and elegant. It comes in black or spicy red for that tango or salsa lesson! And the Long-Sleeve Lace Top looks like a professional costume but is sleek and comfortable.

To get even more in the ballroom “character”, try the vibrant Long-Sleeve Top with flared sleeves and the dramatic Asymmetrical Short Ruffle Skirt, which comes in red or black and moves so beautifully with movement.

Having proper shoes is important. Whether or not you have actual ballroom shoes, Travis and Jaimee say it’s helpful to wear shoes with a suede or non-stick bottom, “so you can turn and move without too much grip with the floor”. They do not recommend tennis shoes.

Capezio has a wonderful line of affordable, gorgeous ballroom shoes. Choose your style and strap “personality”. The Katusha has a 2.5-inch flared heel and ankle strap for support. Plus, it looks ultra glamorous! The Alandra has a very classic, timeless look, and other styles like the Leah 3” Heel and Natalia 2.5” Heel come with leopard print or purple accents for some added style.

Dance sneakers are also a great way to go. Capezio’s Web Dansneaker® is lightweight and breathable, with a split-sole design for foot articulation. And the Low-Top Dansneaker® is particularly suitable for salsa training.

Jaimee and Travis Tuft. Photo courtesy of TuftAnd you’ll definitely need something to transport your shoes, water bottle and accessories to and from the studio. This Multi Compartment Bag is fun and sporty-looking with several storage compartments for your belongings. Or try the Freebird Tote, a roomy bag that is fashionable and sleek.

Ballroom dance can be a great social activity that is also fun and a great workout, and one that is suitable for people of all ages and skill levels. So no reason to shy away!

“The beauty of ballroom dance is that it puts less impact and strain on your joints and muscles than some other forms of dancing, making it a sport/art you can enjoy at all stages of life,” Travis says. “Ballroom (truly all styles of dance) is great because you’re able to exercise your body and mind all in one. Due to the physical nature of dance, it’s a great way to get fit and toned while having a great time socialising. And because we’re also learning patterns and figures, it’s exercising your mind and boosting memory. There have been quite a few studies done showing the benefits of ballroom dance and its ability to fight off the signs of Alzheimer’s. So cool! And the best part, it doesn’t even feel like work!”

Article produced by Dance Informa.

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