It seems like an obvious thing to say, but if you want to substantially improve your dancing – practice your basic. That’s right, practice that really, really simple step you have been doing since Day One. Get in front of a mirror and do it over and over. Look at it. See how your body transitions through each part of the step. Critique yourself. You have been watching people around you and you know there are some who simply look better than you do. Here’s your chance to up your whole game a notch.
Because the basic is the step you always come back to. You may do a flashy move once or twice in a single dance. But the basic is there over and over, between those moves. Transitioning from a fancy move back to an elegantly executed basic is what seals the move and makes it special. If you do a flashy move and end it with a poorly executed basic you throw away half the beauty of the complex step.
How do you improve your basic?
Start with your balance. Are you properly balanced to take that first step? Is all your weight on one foot ready to move? Is your weight forward, your frame and posture correct? For each part of the step, are you moving swiftly from one balanced point to another? Do you minimize split weight with the body caught between the feet? Are your steps too wide? As an exercise, try to make them as small as possible while still hitting all the correct placements required by the figure.
Dance is about control. Can you move through each step without having your shoulders shrug or move? Shoulder movement should be a compliment to a step. If you cannot control it, it becomes a detriment. Isolate the hips from the chest at the waist. Even smooth dances require isolation to emphasize control and balance.
Check your feet. Are you hitting every step on the correct part of your foot? Landing too far back on the ball of the foot can cause you fall at the end of many latin and swing steps. Landing on a flat foot in a forward or side step, usually results in a heavy jerking movement that makes the frame shake.
Are you using your knees to lower into the floor or are you stretching with your calves and falling heavily? Are you using the thigh muscles to maintain the rhythm of the dance, or are you just trying to get your feet to hit on the beat?
You can check every one of these items in your basic. And if you improve your basic then it is a short leap to carrying that improvement to all the other steps you do.
So always start with your basic. No matter how good it is, it could be better. And, it will give you the most improvement for the time you invest.