When I first started going to classes at the Bristol Dance Experience, I went to a beginners latin and ballroom class in January. Then at the beginning of the next term I continued with latin and ballroom but also started going to the beginners salsa class.
At the end of that term, Eric announced that due to constraints of the schedule they would not be able to offer an improvers (the stage after beginners) salsa class the following term. Eric suggested that people could either come along to the beginner’s salsa in the coming term or wait a term when there would be an improvers class.
I chose to do the beginners salsa again, and it was a revelation. Suddenly everything got a lot easier. Instead of being confronted with new steps and sequences each week, it was really good to be able to focus on the subtleties of the lesson rather than just struggling to get the basics. The class also felt far more relaxing and enjoyable and my dancing improved.
What I realised is that although Eric always says everyone has passed and can go up to the next level class, that isn’t necessarily going to be the best way to advance. Sometimes there is more benefit in really getting a good grounding in the basics so that you have a solid base to build on. Going onto the next class and learning yet more steps and sequences becomes a bit like building a Jenga tower which just gets wobblier as it gets taller.
So the following term, instead of simply going from 1st intermediates to 2nd intermediates, I decided to go back to improvers. It was really good to go over some of the earlier steps again.
In the ballroom and latin classes you are learning eight or nine different dances so there is a lot of material. And each dance takes a while to come around again by which time they are often getting a bit vague. Winding back a term or two was perfect for committing more of the steps to memory. Then in later classes I did not feel so overwhelmed or have to struggle to remember the earlier steps.
As I have progressed through the levels since then, I have realised that lots of people do this. Many people may have reached one of the higher intermediate class levels, but they go to a lower level class as well to brush up on steps that they did not get the first time round. It is also nice to go to other classes where you meet and see more people which means more people to dance with at other events.
The important thing to remember is that dancing is for your own pleasure, and it makes sense to go at a pace that suits you and where you can enjoy the lessons and get better at dancing. Sometimes, it is better to drop back than to persevere and feel more and more out of your depth.