How to Learn to Dance

Four Parts:Deciding What You LikeDancing to Your Own BeatTaking Your Dancing to the Next LevelDeveloping the Right Body

While even kids can dance, not everyone can dance well. If you want to learn how to dance, you first have to pick a style. Next, you can spend some time learning on your own. Alternatively, join a class at a local community college to improve your skills. Don't forget, you'll need to give your body some love by eating right and exercising to be a stellar dancer.

Part 1
Deciding What You Like

  1. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 1
    Know what styles to explore. Each style has a different feel. For instance, the quick beats of tap dancing are very different from the long graceful moves of ballet dancing or the edgy movements of hiphop. Perhaps you could try ballroom dancing with a partner or even Irish dancing.[1]
  2. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 2
    Watch dance videos online. Try watching different videos to understand the basics of different styles of dance. Maybe you don't have strong enough knees for tap dancing. Maybe you don't like how your feet need to bend in ballet dancing. See what draws you in.
  3. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 3
    Look at dance magazines and books. These books describe the basics of dancing, so they give you an idea of what you have ahead of you.
    • Try checking out magazines from the library. It's a free way to explore your options.
    • Dive into the history of dances. It may inspire you to choose one.
  4. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 4
    Watch professionals. Go see a live show in your local community. It doesn't have to be an expensive. Maybe your local college has a dance school. However, watching in person provides a different experience than watching a video. It sweeps you up in the performance.[2]
    • If you watch someone dance, you'll get a better feel for dancing. You'll see some great moves and get ideas from the pros. If you can't afford a live performance, try checking out movies with dancing, such as musicals. Pay attention to the dancers to see what they are doing. Are they focused? What is their technique like? Do their emotions complement the music? If you notice what inspires you in their movement, it may help you decide what you want to do.
  5. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 5
    Join a community dance class. Many communities offer introductory dance classes. They can introduce you to variety of types at once. Check out your parks and recreation department or library.
    • If your community doesn't offer them, check out your local community colleges. Classes at community colleges are cheap.
  6. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 6
    Know your limitations. If you have good posture and you can stretch your legs and point your toes, try classical ballet, not hip hop. When you research dances, make sure you know the body placements. See which ones you think you can do well. Always bear in mind, though, that you are learning. You can and will develop greater flexibility.
  7. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 7
    Choose your favorite type of dance. While you can always branch out later, start with one type of dance first. Focus on learning that type of dancing before you move on to anything else.

Part 2
Dancing to Your Own Beat

  1. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 8
    Find an open space to practice. You need space to practice. Choose somewhere with a solid floor where you can make some noise.
  2. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 9
    Use music with a good beat. Many songs have dance remixes, but you can move to almost anything that has a steady beat.
  3. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 10
    Learn to hear the beat. Some people have trouble hearing the beat. If that's you, try listening to the music at the beginning of a song. Ask someone who knows music to help you count the beats, tapping your foot in time. Once you get the hang of it, you can do it on your own.[3]
  4. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 11
    Don't be afraid to move. Once you feel the beat, try moving your body to it. You can worry about technique later. At this point in time, you just want to learn to move your body in time to the beat.[4]
    • You may want to start out by moving just your arms, then adding leg movements (or vice versa). It's easier to focus on one part. Really listen to the beat to be on time with the moves.
  5. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 12
    Dance at your own pace. Of course you want to immediately be an awesome dancer. However, dancing takes time to learn. If you try too much too soon, you could hurt yourself.
  6. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 13
    Learn the basics first. Starting at the beginning will help you avoid frustration. It will improve your technique for more complicated moves. Use online tutorials or books to help you learn the basics.
    • For ballet, try the basic positions. For instance, begin in first position. First position is where your heels are together, but each foot points straight out to the side. It may take awhile to achieve this turnout, but use your hips to help you get into this position. Your arms should curve out from your shoulders in an arch.[5]
  7. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 14
    Go dancing at a club. Dance clubs are a great place to try out certain types of dance moves, such as hip hop, country, or swing dancing.

Part 3
Taking Your Dancing to the Next Level

  1. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 15
    Join a local dance class. You may have taken a dance class to choose a genre, but now you should take one focused on the type of dance (or dances) you love. Once again, look for community classes or try your local community college. Pick a beginner class, since you're still learning.
  2. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 16
    Watch professionals. Watching professionals helps create a map in your brain. Essentially, by watching their movements, you are better able to make the movement yourself because your brain has already gone through the motions.[6]
    • You can take in a local performance, as above. Also, pay close attention to your instructor as she shows you how to make the movements.
  3. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 17
    Practice with friends. If you get friends to take the class together with you, you can spend time outside of class practicing together. That way, you can also provide feedback for each other. You can work on improving together.[7]
  4. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 18
    Set aside time specifically for practice. The only way to train your body is to practice on a regular basis. It will help your body develop muscle memory, so you can dance without having to think through the motions.[8]
  5. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 19
    See how you're doing. Take a video of yourself, and watch it to see how you are moving. You can also try posting it on dancing sites to ask for tips from other dancers.[9]
  6. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 20
    Practice in front of a mirror. Practicing in front of a mirror will let you see what you're doing wrong in real time, so that you're not practicing a move that's wrong.[10]
  7. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 21
    Go out in the community. Check for local theater companies, and try out for one. You can also see if your community has any local dance groups you could join.
    • One way to find these types of groups is to check event listings in your newspaper. You can see who's performing to find local groups.

Part 4
Developing the Right Body

  1. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 22
    Eat your vegetables and fruits. These foods pack a punch when it comes to nutrients. Your body needs those vitamins and minerals to function properly, so eat your greens every day.[11]
  2. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 23
    Know the proportions. If you're dancing constantly, you should get about half of your calories from carbohydrates. The other 50 percent should be split, with about 35 percent going to fat and 15 percent going to protein.[12]
    • The carbohydrates fuel your muscles for dancing, giving you energy.
    • Protein helps rebuild your muscles. In intense dance sessions, your muscles are stressed and the fibers break, which protein helps fix.[13]
  3. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 24
    Avoid simple carbohydrates. Avoid white sugar, white bread, and white rice. Instead, choose whole grains and fruits for your carbohydrates.[14]
  4. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 25
    Hydrate your body. You need to replenish the fluids that your body is losing. In addition, being dehydrated can slow you down.[15]
    • Aim for 8 glasses of water a day that are 8 ounces each.
    • In an intense dance session, you should drink about 4 glasses of water per hour. to help make up for fluid loss.[16]
  5. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 26
    Choose lean proteins. Try fish or chicken as your protein, as they are lower in saturated fat than red meats. You can also enjoy proteins from plants, such as nuts and beans.[17]
  6. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 27
    Try cross-training. To help develop your body, try other exercises to increase your muscles and stamina.
    • For instance, swimming is a great all-body workout that can improve your flexibility. It also takes the stress off your joints. The backstroke is especially good if you need to loosen your upper body.[18]
    • To develop your leg muscles, try cycling. It's also a great way to increase your overall endurance. Make sure you sit up straight when riding because otherwise you can shorten muscles near the hips.[19]
    • For flexibility and strength, take a yoga class. Yoga can help lengthen your muscles, as well as strengthen your core.[20]
  7. Image titled Learn to Dance Step 28
    Lift weights. Lifting weights helps you to develop your muscles. You'll be able to stay in certain dance positions for longer, or move in ways you didn't think you could. You can do standard weightlifting such as bicep curls or leg squats, but only do sets of three with six or eight repetitions with a slightly heavier weight than you would normally use. More weight (but not as many repetitions) will help strengthen your body without adding too much weight in muscles to your body.[21]
    • For a bicep curl, hold a dumbbell in each hand. Your palm should be facing inwards towards your body. Lift both arms slightly so that your palms are facing upwards. Alternate lifting each arm to your shoulder.[22]
    • For squats, stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold dumbbells in front of your body. Bend your knees at the same time, lowering yourself down, and then return to standing. Repeat the exercise.[23]


  • If you are especially tight on money, look up a video of a routine online. It's fast and free and still teaches you the moves.
  • It is also good to start with simple ballet steps to gain technique which is then also used in other styles of dance


  • Clear the space around you when you dance, so you won't run into anything.
  • Don't attempt moves that are beyond your level/dangerous. Until you really learn those moves, you could easily get injured.
  • The best option is to learn from a professional.

Sources and Citations


Show more... (20)

Article Info

Categories: Beginning Dance | Dancing