Dance Lessons & Life Lessons

Written by Sean, Instructor at Arthur Murray Vernon

As I teach dance more and more, I’ve come to see more and more life lessons that apply both in dance and in the wider world.



  • Be assertive, but not aggressive: When you dance, your lead must be clear.  You must be obvious about what you want.  At the same time, you don’t want to push or shove or manhandle your partner. Much the same, when you communicate your preferences, be sure to make your preferences known, but not in such a way that you make others uncomfortable.
  • Don’t wait too long: Wait too long to ask someone to dance, and they’ll find another partner.  Wait too long to try that new move, and the song may well end.  All of life’s opportunities have time constraints.  Best to act on them while you can.
  • Be clear: The lead should be precise so that there’s no confusion.  In the same way, precise communication is key to any partnership.
  • Commit to a choice: When the lead begins to make one move, then panics with uncertainty and switches to another move, it confuses his partner.  Likewise, it’s hard to make one choice in life, only to change your mind and try to do something else in the middle of it.  Much better to stay the course, on the dance floor and in the larger world.swing dance
  • Part, then come back together: In many ballroom moves, the partners must let go of one another.  The various underarm turns come to mind - especially the elongated turns of waltz and rumba - as well as the chase in the cha cha.  Yet always, the partners are fine on their own for a time, then they come back together.  Just so, in a human relationship of any kind, we have to be ready to leave one another for a time, then return with neither hesitation nor hurried desperation
  • Allow your partner some space: As you dance together, you’ll need to let your partner move, which means they need some room to move.  As in life, you mustn’t crowd the important people in your life, but give them space to take action.
  • Try: On the dance floor, the only way to get better is to give new moves a try.  In life, you’ll never know what you can do until you make the attempt.

As in dance, so in life!

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