Not everyone has the natural talent and professional flair of the likes of Strictly Come Dancing judge and respected choreographer Craig Revel Horwood - some people even believe they have two left feet and are totally incapable of dancing (which of course is not true).
The following guide offers some top tips to show you how to give your friend or partner the confidence to join you on the dance floor.
The thought of embarrassing themselves while attempting to dance can be terrifying for some, so the worst thing to do is throw them in the deep end at a nightclub or other public event. It's best to first make your friend or partner feel at ease by having a glass of wine and practising at home.
Initially have them simply feel the music and move a little - it's important they lose their self-consciousness and learn to enjoy the rhythms. After they've loosened up somewhat, try to show them some very simple dance steps. Never laugh at or tease an unconfident dancer, and never show impatience if they do not seem to be getting the hang of it. Remember - the most crucial thing is that they relax, find their own rhythm and start to move their body in a way that feels comfortable. It's crucial to any successful dancing that people don't tense up, since this makes movement seem clunky and also causes bad dancers to lose their rhythm.
In addition to maintaining a relaxed body, it's absolutely vital to make sure you and your partner enjoy yourselves. There's no point to dancing if it's not fun, so retain high spirits and never allow yourself to get annoyed.
Taking the Plunge
Once your friend or partner has learned to relax and do some basic moves, it's time to head for the dance floor. A friendly family wedding would be best, but if it's to be a club, first discuss the type of music that the person enjoys as this will long way to helping them feel at ease. Also, at a night club do not lead your partner into the centre of the dance floor where they will be surrounded by more experienced dancers - they will feel more comfortable at the edges where they are not in the spotlight.
A further tip when taking the plunge at a public event is to ensure your dance partner stays relaxed - if they start to feel overwhelmed, simply find a place to unwind awhile. Insist they have an alcoholic drink or two as this will help them stay relaxed and boost their confidence levels.
Balanced Confidence is Key
Never make a shaky dancer defensive and shy by constantly telling them what moves to make and what they are doing wrong. The worst thing you can do is harp on about their lack of dancing ability, since this will make them tense up and could even cause them to give up trying to learn. Instead, be encouraging and let them know that even if they only move their shoulders a little, the main thing on the dance floor is to remain loose and look as if you're confidently enjoying the music.
On the other hand it's a major faux pas to overdo the confidence-if your friend or partner starts to get carried away and thrash about like an octopus, perhaps take their hands to gently ease them back into the rhythm of the music.
A further tip is to have a think about how you could work around your partner’s uninspiring moves to make them look good instead of highlighting their lack of skill. For example, when tackling a slow dance, subtly but firmly take the lead. If the dance calls for structured know-how, turn it into an easier free-form style by merely moving gracefully in time with the music so they can follow your lead.
Above all, pay attention to what your dance partner does badly and try to stick to the moves they enjoy or can easily pick up from you. Watch to see how long it takes for them to pick up a move up so you understand how easy it is for them to get the hang of different styles. Repetition is important for inexperienced dancers, as once they get a handle on some simple moves they can start to relax and enjoy the music. Simplicity will also allow them to get used to keeping time with the music. Often, an inexperienced dancer will literally imitate what you’re doing, so keep the steps fairly simple and attainable. You can almost actually hypnotise them into keeping pace with the music correctly, so repetition is also key.
Bear in mind that what observers will see is the whole-if you and your partner are having a good time and keeping in synch with the beat, all that spectators will notice is a moving duet. The best way forward is to make it clear that you don't care about fabulous dance moves, you simply want to move together. Focusing on making your partner look good will also reduce their nervousness and build their confidence. The more they feel good about themselves, the better they will be able to dance.
A final tip in terms of maintaining enthusiasm and confidence levels is to thank your partner after the dance and tell them they did well-this will show them you appreciated the effort and will also encourage them to keep practising.
Once you and your partner have mastered your easy duet on the dance floor a few times in public, you might be able to convince them to take dancing to the next level by signing up for some classes. If they baulk at the idea, ensure them that at a Beginners Class everyone will be a little shaky so they will not feel on the spot. The main thing is to let them know that dancing is purely for fun (not to mention good exercise), so they do not need to feel pressured to be an outstanding dancer, they can simply learn the steps they feel comfortable with.
While few of us can wow on the dance floor or stage like celebrated professionals such as Craig Revel Horwood, this guide will help you to show your friend or partner that dancing is extremely enjoyable, and with a few easy steps under their belt they can simply relax and flow with the music.