Advice to Dancers by Fred Astaire

Above all, be yourself! Dancing should be a form of self-expression. Whatever else you may do, don't make the mistake of being an unimaginative copyist. Don't be a slave to steps or routines.


Date added to ADN: Tuesday, Dec 04 2012
Originally Published: Tuesday, Dec 04 2012
By Richard Powers

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Above all, be yourself! Dancing should be a form of self-expression. Whatever else you may do, don't make the mistake of being an unimaginative copyist. Don't be a slave to steps or routines.

After you have been dancing for a time, you will find that you do the Foxtrot, the Waltz or the Tango just a little bit differently from anyone else. You have developed your own individual style. That is nothing to worry over. On the contrary, there would be more cause for worry if you did not develop a style of your own. Styles in dancing are developed just as inevitably as styles in writing or painting. The dancer without individual style is no more than a mechanical robot.

For ballroom dancing, remember that your partners have their own distinctive styles also. Cultivate flexibility. Be able to adapt your style to that of your partner. In doing so, you are not surrendering your individuality, but blending it with that of your partner.


— Fred Astaire from THE FRED ASTAIRE TOP HAT DANCE ALBUM, A COMPREHENSIVE COMPENDIUM ON BALLROOM DANCING, 1936


About the Author:

Full-time instructor in contemporary social dancing and dance history, Stanford University Dance Division, Department of Theater and Performance Studies. Principal focus since 1975 has been social dance forms from the Renaissance to today. Specializations include currently evolving vernacular dance forms, 19th century American and European social dance, dances of the Ragtime Era and Jazz Age.

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