Joel and Clara Marasigan

Are We Speaking the Same Language?


Communication is so important in every aspect of life, whether it’s in the workplace, during play, within your family or in your personal life. On the dance floor, good communication can help to avoid misunderstandings, prevent arguments, accelerate your learning and improve your chances of success!

communicationOne of the things that I figured out along the way, is that we need to be very specific with our words. Developing a common language between partners (in dance and in life) is essential for success. Throughout my dance career, I felt a strong need to find a way of communicating, which would be both effective and efficient. Over time, many arguments and discussions later, Joel and I defined various terms to help avoid misunderstanding. Establishing a set terminology that we both agreed upon, made things clearer in our minds and put us both on the same page.

As you know, ballroom dancing is very finicky. The difference between being balanced or unbalanced, too fast or too slow, too high or too low, are often due to very minute details. Therefore, in order to describe these minute details, you must be able to distinguish very clearly between similar but different things.

Terminology is key. What is the difference between rotation and turn? Are you referring to the hips or the feet? How about lowering and compression? Can you compress without lowering? Can you lower without compressing? Are you too fast or too early? Is that in relation to each other or the music? Were you too fast on step 2 and therefore too early on step 3? Or did you dance it at the perfect speed, but just start too early from the very beginning?

The more specific you can be with your words, the more effective and efficient your practices will be. Think about situations in your everyday life. Did your husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend say to pick up one cranberry & blueberry juice, or did he/she say to pick up one cranberry juice and one blueberry juice? The words sound similar, so it’s easy to get the wrong meaning. If you get the wrong meaning, you get 2 different juices instead of a 2-in-1!

Work together to define what you mean. The more clear you can be with your words, the more accurate you will be with your dancing. Hopefully your coach can help you out in this aspect, as it would be most effective for you and your partner to share a common language with your teacher. However, keep in mind that each teacher may have a slightly different terminology. So for those of you who take lessons with several different teachers, you will have to interpret what he/she means into your own language. As long as you and your partner share the same terminology and can communicate what you mean to each other, that’s what matters most.

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