How to lose weight for a show or competition

November 7th, 2011 admin

The best thing to do is limit your calories to 1500 per day. On top of this you should only be eating lean proteins, and lots of fruits a vegetables, about one cup of each at each meal. If you absolutely must have carbohydrates, have a piece of whole grain toast in the morning. One of the most important things is not to eat late at night. Try not to eat past 6pm. 7pm will work if you go to bed a bit later. If you are hungry between meals eat some almonds or cashews, no more than 9 at a time. You can also try having a healthy granola bar, Kashi bars are great, between meals.

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Will a regular dress shoe work for a dance shoe?

November 4th, 2011 admin

If you have never taken a dance lesson before it is not necessary to have dance shoes for your first lesson. Men can wear a comfortable dress shoe. No rubber soles! This is very important, because rubber soles will make it more difficult for you to learn how to dance as the rubber will get stick to the floor. Women should wear a comfortable heel that will not slide off of the foot. Make sure its not too high! If you have trouble walking, you will have trouble dancing. After a few lessons you should look into getting dance shoes. Dance shoes have a suede sole which will glide across the floor very easily. There are many different types of dance shoes, so ask your teacher what he or she recommends for the dances you are doing.

How do ballroom dancers not run into each other?

September 14th, 2011 admin

There is a “line of dance” that all ballroom dancers follow. It runs counter clockwise. All of the steps are put together in a way that follows this line. Also, the lead in a professional couple is always looking to make sure they wont run into anyone. If they are getting close, they will improvise with another step.

What are the benefits of Ballroom Dancing?

September 13th, 2011 admin

Dancing is a social activity which provides increased self-confidence and social skills. Physical activity reduces stress and tension, regular dancing gives an overall sense of well-being. The following are medical quotes and studies, documenting the tangible benefits of dancing:

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recognizes the benefits of dance in lowering coronary heart disease risk, decreasing blood pressure, and managing weight. Another plus of dancing is that the weight bearing movements of your steps can strengthen the bones of your legs and hips, important for maintaining bone health as your age. As a result, dancing may be used as part of a rehabilitation program, of course with appropriate supervision.

The New England Journal of Medicine: Joe Verghese, MD, assistant neurology professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and colleagues studied 469 people who were at least 75 years old. At the study’s start, they answered surveys about mental and physical activities, like doing crossword puzzles or dancing. Back then, none had Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Five years later, frequent dancers had a reduced risk of dementia compared with those who rarely or never danced. Of 11 physical activities, only dancing was tied with a lower dementia risk. Most dancers did ballroom dancing.

The Dancing Brain

How might ballroom dancing help the brain? Verghese outlines three possibilities:

Increased blood flow to the brain from the physical exercise
Less stress, depression, and loneliness from dancing’s social aspect
Mental challenges (memorizing steps, working with your partner)

**The Journal of Medicine even found, as dancing requires memorizing steps and working with a partner, both aspects provide mental challenges that are crucial for brain health.

The Journal Heart & Lung found that people who listened to music while they exercised performed more than twice as well on a verbal fluency test than people who listened to no music. This study’s lead author, Charles Emery, “…Listening to music may influence cognitive function through different pathways in the brain. The combination of music and exercise may stimulate and increase cognitive arousal while helping to organize cognitive output.”

How can I look less stiff when I dance?

September 5th, 2011 admin

It just takes practice. Whenever you are learning something new, it is not going to feel natural. There is a curve of learning. First there is the initial phase when you learn something, then there is the awkward use phase where is where you know the steps, but still feel stiff. After that there is the conscious use phase where you don’t look stiff anymore, but still have to think very hard about what you’re doing, and finally, there is the natural use stage, where you look and feel comfortable. It helps a lot to practice the steps by yourself in the mirror until you build up some good muscle memory to what the right steps are supposed to feel like. Stretching before you dance is a great idea as well.

How should my ballroom dance shoes fit?

August 29th, 2011 admin

Ballroom dance shoes should fit more snugly than regular street shoes. For a female shoe, the toes should come right up the the edge of the shoe. Some women prefer them to go 1/4 of an inch over the front of the shoe. The purpose of this is so that you can feel the floor and balance better. A good way to tell if it is the right fit is to point your toe. If there is a lot of space left over when you are pointing, the shoe is usually too big. Men’s shoes should be a bit tighter than a regular shoe as well for the same reasons. All of this being said, a good dance shoe will stretch and mold to your foot, so if you get them too big, that will never happen.

What are good rumba songs for a wedding?

August 24th, 2011 admin

Rumba is a great choice for a first dance! You will have a lot of options. One of my favorites is Michael Buble’s “The way you look tonight” . Although you could really do rumba to anything with the right tempo. A few others are Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” and The Beatles “In my life”, “Change the World” by Eric Clapton, “Friends” by Elton John, “I swear” by All 4 one, and “Love will keep us alive” by the Eagles. There are tons and tons of great rumbas. If you have a specific song in mind, don’t hesitate to ask your teacher what you can do with it! You also don’t have to stick to a traditional song for your wedding. You can even pick two songs that you really like and have your instructor cut the music for you. For something like this you need quite a bit of preparation, so I would recommend starting your dance lessons 6 to 8 months before your wedding. You can start with something slow and romantic and end with something fun and upbeat that will get everyone going for your reception. Your wedding memories will last a lifetime so it is important to do something that you will always cherish.

What are some good stretches to do before dancing?

August 22nd, 2011 admin

Try this one: kneel down on one knee on the floor and put one foot flat on the ground making sure your knee does not go over your foot. It is very important that you keep a 90 degree angle on this leg. Now take the opposite leg and extend it back into a split as far as you can go. Now take your body and lean forward next to the supporting foot.(Make sure you don’t move the forward leg at all. Keep the 90 degrees!) You should feel a stretch in your hips and thighs. If you still don’t feel a good stretch, pick your body up, reach behind you and grab the foot that is extended back leaving your knee on the floor. Make sure you do this slowly as you don’t want to injure yourself. Now do the same thing on the other leg. To get your feet more flexible, Sit on the floor with both of your legs in front of you and point and flex several times. When you flex, grab your toes, pull them toward you and count to 10. When you point, stretch forward as far as you can. Try to put your stomach on your legs, and count to 10. You can also it on the floor with you legs stretched to the side as far as you can. Bend down and try to touch your nose to your knee without lifting you bottom.  This should feel more like a back stretch; hold for 30 seconds. Continue on for the middle and other side. Rep. each side twice.

Melanie LaPatin Stars in Feature Film LEADING LADIES

July 29th, 2011 admin

Leading LadiesDid you know that Melanie LaPatin has a starring role in the new feature film called LEADING LADIES?!

Melanie plays Sheri (pronounced “Cheri,” as in the French pronunciation) Campari, the overbearing backstage mother of two daughters, one whom she lives through vicariously on the ballroom dance floor, and the other who is relegated to the role of “practice partner.”  See what happens to each as they redefine their roles in life and on the dance floor and learn to “Let Love Lead.™”

So You Think You Can Dance fans will see some more familiar faces in the film, as season two winner, Benji Schwimmer, joins Melanie on screen as her daughters’ best friend and competition dance partner (wait till you see Benji perform an amazing West Coast Swing duet with long time friend and West Coast Swing World Champion Jordan Frisbee!).

There is also a fantastic “Grocery Store Musical” number choreographed by Melanie and starring past SYTYCD finalists Courtney Galiano, Kherington Payne, Katee Shean, and Sara VonGillern!

The film has been doing extremely well on the festival circuit, screening at more than 50 festivals around the world so far and still going strong.  Past highlights include a Gala Presentation at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, winner of the Showcase Award at the film’s premiere at the Sonoma International Film Festival, selling out an opening weekend screening in the Directors’ Guild of America Theater on Sunset Boulevard at Outfest in LA, winning Best Picture at the Palm Beach Women’s International Film Festival, screening at the Marché du Film at the Cannes International Film Festival, and most recently winning the Audience Choice award for Best Narrative Feature at the San Francisco United Film Festival right after screening to nearly 900 people in the historic Castro Theater at Frameline International Film Festival.

The film has been picked up for North American distribution by Wolfe, and will be released on DVD and VOD in the U.S. on Sept. 13, 2011.  Click the image of the DVD to pre-order your copy from the Wolfe website!

You can also visit the Leading Ladies website to find out where film is playing next, so you can see it on the big screen in a theater near you!  The website also has many video clips and photos from the film, links to merchandise, information about the film’s soundtrack, and all kinds of other fun information from and about the movie!

Finally, don’t forget to add the film to your Netflix Queue by visiting this link and adding Leading Ladies to your queue!

Is ballroom samba the same as the samba in Brazil?

July 20th, 2011 admin

The samba is a lively, rhythmical dance. It is related to the traditional samba styles of Brazil, but differs from them considerably. Its music is in 2/4 or 4/4 time. The ballroom samba has its origins in Brazil at the beginning of the 20th century. Many steps can be traced back to the Maxixe danced in 1910s. As a ballroom dance, the samba is a partner dance. Ballroom samba, like other ballroom dances, is somewhat disconnected from the origins and evolution of the music and dance that gives it its name.

Most steps are danced with a slight downward bouncing or dropping action. This action is created through the bending and straightening of the knees, with bending occurring on the beats of 1 and 2, and the straightening occurring between. However, unlike the bouncing of, e.g., Polka, there is no considerable bobbing. Also, Samba has a specific hip action, different from that in ballroom Latin dances (Rumba and Cha-Cha-Cha).

The ballroom samba is danced to music in 2/4 or 4/4 time. It uses several different rhythmic patterns in its figures, with cross-rhythms being a common feature. The ballroom samba is danced under several different rhythms, including the original Samba (music). It is also possible to dance ballroom samba with flamenco, zouk, and other South American rhythms.

Should I learn the man and ladies part in dancing?

July 18th, 2011 admin

The more you know about a certain thing the better. As a lead, learning the followers part will help you understand what you need to do as a leader. A leader should be using his back and core to lead the steps, not the arms.  A lot of times this is a difficult concept and it is easier to understand if you can feel the difference in the followers part when it is tried both ways. As a follower it can be equally important to learn the lead for a step so that you can learn to follow a light lead instead of a heavy one. However,  I would only recommend this if you both leader and follower have been dancing for AT LEAST a few months or more.

Our dance lessons are now listed on thumbtack!

July 13th, 2011 admin

Dance lessons from all of our amazing instructors are now listed on Thumbtack!  We’ve found a lot of great local things on their site and we want to know what you think.

Is it too late to start ballroom dancing competitively?

July 13th, 2011 admin

It is definitely not too late for anyone to start dancing. The best way to get started will be private lessons. It doesn’t matter how old you are and you will get one on one training. You could try group classes as well, but will most likely be dancing with people of all different ages. This shouldn’t be a problem, it will help you learn to follow an type of lea, or lead any type of follower. You also don’t have to worry about finding a partner right away. The more training you get on your own, the easier it will be to find a partner later on. I would also recommend taking lessons at an actual studio not at someones house as people are trying to do lately. You will have a much better experience an will learn much faster at a studio. To compete in Dancesport competitions you just need to find the right partner. The more training you get on your own, the better dancer you will become, and the easier it will be for you to find a partner.Once you have some training, you can call around to different studios to see if anyone there is looking for a partner. There are also several different types of ballroom dancing.

Is coaching really necessary? Can’t my teacher just give me the information?

June 20th, 2011 admin

Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin believe it is always best to get a different point of view on your dancing. You may have an amazing teacher with tons of experience, but if you are always dancing with the same person, you get used to the way they dance and your instructor might not be able to see things the way an outside coach can. Also, a lot of coaches are adjudicators as well and they know what other judges are looking for from a competitive angle. Coaching is not only reserved for competitive students however, it is great for any student that wants their dancing to progress quickly. One coaching session from a good coach can give you material to work on with your teacher for several lessons.

Will people be watching me take dance lessons?

June 15th, 2011 admin

When you are taking dance lessons at a studio there are usually several lessons going on at the same time. Usually the other students that are taking lessons are focused on their own lesson and not watching other people. However, here and there, new students might come in to the studio to observe a class for a few minutes. This is excellent practice for any student that would like to go out and dance socially. Whether you are taking classes for fun, a wedding, or for competition, the best place to practice in front of people is in a studio with your instructor. This will help to get rid of any nervousness about dancing in front of people later on. Most studios also have weekly or monthly “social parties” where all of the instructors and studios get together to practice dancing in a social setting. This is a great place to practice dancing with your partner and/or with other students and instructors.  If you are practicing for your wedding dance this is also the perfect place to practice your dance in front of people before the big day.

Do I have to have dance shoes?

June 1st, 2011 admin

If you have never taken a dance lesson before it is not necessary to have dance shoes for your first lesson. Ladies can wear a comfortable heel that will not slide off of their foot, and men can wear a comfortable dress shoe. No rubber soles! This is very important, because rubber soles will make it more difficult for you to learn how to dance as  the rubber will get stick to the floor. After a few lessons you should look into getting dance shoes. Dance shoes have a suede sole which will glide across the floor very easily. As for the ladies, the heel on the shoe is placed differently on dance shoes to help you balance better. There are many different types of dance shoes, so ask your teacher what he or she recommends for the dances you are doing.

Different teachers are teaching different techniques, isn’t there just one way of doing this?

May 30th, 2011 admin

We always recommend taking lessons from more than one teacher. If you are at a good studio, all of the teachers will have great experience in dancing, but will have different teaching methods. You will be able to take different techniques from each teacher which in turn will make you a better dancer. For example, if you are a female student, it might help you to take styling lessons from one of the female teachers. Or if you want to work on international latin from one teacher, you can learn standard dancing from another and so on. It is also good to dance with different instructors so you do not get used to the way just one person dances. Everyone dances a bit differently and a good dancer should be able to dance with anyone.

Do I need to practice in my wedding shoes or veil?

May 25th, 2011 admin

If you are going to wear your veil for your first dance, then yes!  You do not want to be distracted during turns and worrying about whether you are going to step on it while dancing.  Regarding shoes, you do not have to wear “the” shoes but having something with a comparable heel width and height is important while practicing.  If you are used to wearing flats but on your special day you want to wear 4 inch stilettos then you definitely need some practice with it.   If you want to practice in “the” shoes but do not want to get them dirty then bring a sandwich bag for each shoe and cover the balls of each foot that way there is no chance for scuffing! Also, if you are going to be wearing a dress that has a big skirt, we would recommend practicing in that as well. (not the dress, the skirt that goes underneath the dress). Most women are not used to wearing gowns like that, so practicing in it is very important!

Should I practice ballroom dancing on my own?

May 23rd, 2011 admin

There are two schools of thought on this subject.   Some people believe that unless you are practicing perfectly then you shouldn’t.  Some people say that the only to perfect something is to practice it over and over again.  Well…we believe that both are correct.  If you are just starting out, try practicing for 10-15min every other day or so, just to make sure that you can remember the patterns that your teacher is teaching you and they begin to get comfortable.  If at any point you can’t remember something…STOP!  It will be easier for your teacher to re-teach it to you versus having to take the time to teach you out of a bad habit.  For more experienced dancers, it is a benefit to practice on your own so that you can start to get the muscle memory in your body for the technique that your instructor is trying to get you to learn.  Of course, if you are questioning what you are practicing, then just wait until you have your lessons again.

What ballroom dance style has lifts?

May 11th, 2011 admin

Any ballroom dance can have lifts in it. It just depends on the choreography and the level of the dancing. For competition however, the only category that would be permitted to have lifts would be “showdance” or “cabaret”. For the other categories lifts are not allowed, you have to have one foot on the floor at all times. T0 choreograph a showdance, you can pick whatever dance you want ( usually it would be one of the slower dances like rumba or waltz, but anything will work) and add lifts into the choreography to make the routine a showdance.

How to keep your legs relaxed while dancing

May 9th, 2011 admin

You should have tone throughout your body when you are dancing, but you shouldn’t feel tense. There is a difference. In the latin dances, one knee is always bent and the other straight. You can practice standing still with your feet in first position( heels touching and toes slightly apart) in front of a mirror, and practice bending one knee while keeping the other straight and then switch legs until you get used to this feeling. This is a very important part of all of the latin dances. It is also where your cuban motion( hip movement) comes from. In the ballroom dances (foxtrot, waltz, etc.) it is the opposite, you will always have either both knees bent at the same time or both knees straight. The ballroom and latin dances have completely different techniques.

Modern Music in Ballroom Dancing

May 4th, 2011 admin

The reason they are using different types of music on shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “So you think you can dance”  is because they are trying to reach a wider audience. As you already know, dance music is chosen by the timing that goes with the dance, not necessarily the type of music. I do believe that there are better choices that can be made then what is going on now. but I think that its amazing that they are introducing ballroom dancing to an audience that otherwise would never have been interested. Yes, a waltz should never be danced in 4/4 timing, but most of what they do on the show is more of a “showdance” anyway. Other than the waltz you mentioned, I believe that is good for people to think “outside of the box” in terms of music. It stimulates creativity in choreography. In shows like ” so you think you can dance” they actually use music from up and coming musicians for the show in order to provide more opportunities to struggling musicians which I think is great as well.

Is getting a tan necessary for competitions?

May 2nd, 2011 admin

If you do not want to get a regular tan, I would definitely go with a spray tan, you definitely CANNOT go to a ballroom competition without a tan, you will stick out and not in a good way. For your first tan I would get airbrushed as opposed to one of the mystic booths. It is a little pricier, but the results are better as they can personalize the color you need more. Just tell the person who is airbrushing you that you do not want to go too dark and you should be fine. Tell her you want a light color, and then you can use LORAC’s “tantalizer” over your spray tan the day of the competition. (this stuff washes off at night, you can get it at sephora) Being tan will make you look more lean and muscular.

What is the best way to lose weight before a competition?

April 25th, 2011 admin


The best thing to do is limit your calories to 1500 per day. ON top of this you should only be eating lean proteins, and lots of fruits a vegetables, about one cup of each at each meal. If you absolutely must have carbohydrates, have a piece of whole grain toast in the morning. One of the most important things is not to eat late at night. Try not to eat past 6pm. 7pm will work if you go to bed a bit later. If you are hungry between meals eat some almonds or cashews, no more than 9 at a time. You can also try having a healthy granola bar, kashi  bars are great, between meals.

Why is the dancing on “dancing with the stars” so different from all the other videos I see on youtube? How do I learn to dance like the tv show?

April 20th, 2011 admin

The dancing that you see on “Dancing with the Stars” is all choreographed by professionals and then practiced about 8 hours per day. You could try doing a swing routine instead as the music is a bit slower, but either way you will have to learn the basics first. The videos you are finding online are most likely basics. In fact, in most competitions you are not allowed to do any lifts at all unless it is theater arts. For you to dance like the people on “dancing with the stars,” you would have to dedicate several hours a day to practicing, and you would also need to hire a good teacher. Technique is something that you cannot really learn through a video. You can try learning the basic step online and then going to a studio to learn some technique to execute it properly. You will need to work a lot in leading and following which will help you in any dance you learn. There is nothing worse then seeing someone try to do a lot of fancy tricks and not do well at it. I would start building a simple routine with basics and then adding to it when you are ready.

What kind of music is used for ballroom dancing?

April 18th, 2011 admin


Almost any kind of music can be used for ballroom dancing, the type of dancing will just depend on the time signature and tempo of the music. Most popular songs these days have 4/4 timing, which would work great for cha cha or hustle.  A good amount of Michael Jackson songs can be used for cha cha. As you gather more experience in dancing you will learn to tell which songs work for which dances. For example, if you want to find a good waltz, you will look for something with a slow ¾ time signature. A good example is the song “Misery” by Pink.

Is it better to know one of the ballroom dances very well or to know basics in all of them?

April 13th, 2011 admin

It is better to learn the basics in several of the dances as a lot of the dances have similar basic steps. Any ballroom event you go to will play several dances as well. Once you start picking up the first few you will realize how easy it is to pick up the next dances and so on. I would recommend you starting with a mix of dances like, rumba, cha cha, foxtrot and waltz so you can start to figure out which dances you like and go from there. Also, if you are a competitive dancer, any champion will tell you, basics are the key to everything. Work on your technique, turns, spirals, cha cha locks, rumba walks, etc…. and you will see a HUGE improvement in your routines.

Is it ok for men to practice with men in ballroom dancing?

April 11th, 2011 admin


When the Argentine tango first started, men danced with men and it was not seen as odd in any way. Now it is a bit different. You usually will not see men dancing with men at a social event, but it is very common for men to practice with each other. It is essential to your learning that you feel what it is like to follow in any partner dance. I agree with the other post on here that it will make it a bit less uncomfortable if you extend into a practice hold (holding each other at the elbows) as opposed to the regular argentine tango hold. This will make your dancing progress quickly. In a partner dance class that you take, for the most part, you will be required to switch partners and to fill in if the ratio is uneven. If you are still very uncomfortable, I would talk to the teacher privately before or after class so that he/she doesn’t put you on the spot in the middle of class.

Where can you practice ballroom dancing?

April 6th, 2011 admin


There are several different places where you can practice your dancing. Most studios will rent “floor space” where you can come into the studio, use the music system and practice on your own on a nice floor without and instructor. Floor fees are usually charged by the hour or half hour. Once you are a bit more comfortable with your dancing, you can go to any restaurant that has a dance floor to practice. Any good studio will know where all of the best spots are, so you can ask your instructor or anyone at the studio where to go. A lot of studios also have a “night on the town” where the students and teacher will all go out to a nice dinner and dancing where you can socialize and practice with other students that are learning as well.

In ballroom dancing is there a minimum height difference between partners?

April 4th, 2011 admin


There is no minimum height difference in social dancing, however,  if you are looking into competition the lead should be an inch or two taller than the lady. Most experienced dancers wear 3 inch heels. If it the height is not quite right, you can have the lady look into wearing 2.5 inch heels instead. There are several very successful couple who were not “the right height” for each other and they made it work. Also, if you are doing standard or smooth dancing, the heels are usually between 2 and 2.5 inches instead of 3.


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