And we are back to our regularly-scheduled, troll-free programming. Recently I finished a book called "The Ballroom Dance Coach: Expert Strategies to Take Your Dancing to the Next Level," by Jessika Ferm.
Ms. Ferm is a professional executive coach, and competes in ballroom competitions ("DanceSport") as an amateur with a professional partner. We call these events "pro-am" and they are the big moneymaker in the ballroom industry. They are also a great way for dancers without regular partners to advance their dancing quickly.
This particular book reflects Ms. Ferm's experience as a ballroom competitor, as well as her expertise as a coach. It would be a very good accompaniment to "Ballroom Dancing is Not for Sissies," which was reviewed here some time ago (see link below). There is a lot of good stuff, and absolutely nothing that made me think "No."
I tend to obsess about my own dancing. You may have noticed this. Maybe I think about dancing more than the average dancer; I don't really discuss it in much detail with my amateur peers. Ms. Ferm seems to be my kind of dancer, i.e. she really thinks about it. It's a hobby for her as for me, but an important one, that plays a large part in her life. She seems very self-aware.
The book is loaded with short interviews with people representing various segments of the dance world. These are all tied to a structure of questions and exercises revolving around four stages of learning.
- Stage 1: we don't know what we don't know. a.k.a.: Unconscious Incompetence.
- Stage 2: we know that we don't know. a.k.a.: Conscious Incompetence.
- Stage 3: We know that we know. a.k.a.: Conscious Competence.
- Stage 4: It's second nature. a.k.a.: Unconscious Competence.
The benefit of this structure is that it allows different examples to stand out without a great deal of discussion or explanation. The book is slim and a quick read. There are many excellent tips for dealing with the emotional ramifications of learning a difficult sport. Just one example, a quote from multi-national champion Mireille Veilleux:
"Dancing is always about working on the fundamentals. Sometimes, the higher we get in our dancing, the easier it is to forget about the basics. If you are getting frustrated or emotional because you can't push through to the next level, go back and work on the basics you already know. This will build confidence and skills that you will need as you move forward."
Now, of course, many dancers won't like to hear this; social dancers are notorious for neglecting study once they have achieved a certain level of competence. But anyone who's had a class with me knows that I very strongly believe the dancer with simple moves and good basic technique is a better dancer than the one with flashy moves and no technique.
My only quibble is with the book design. The typeface is small and slim, and for these eyes at least was difficult to read - especially in the sections where the type was white on a gray background.
Recommended: but read it under a strong light.
(May be out of print; not yet available for Kindle.)
Read more: Ballroom Dancing is Not for Sissies