How To Get A Dancer’s Body

Dancers are known for their long, lean, and muscular bodies. A lifetime of dancing and proper nutrition might get you there but what can non-dancers do to achieve similar results without years of technical training?

For posture and mobility, yoga and Pilates are excellent. For musculature, resistance training is ideal. For low body fat, a solid nutritional strategy is a better choice than exercise, but walking a lot helps, too.

Creating the look of a dancer is one thing, but a dancer’s body is also characterized by fitness. Should dancers rely on aerobic training or “cardio” for conditioning? Let’s consider the nature of a highly athletic form of dancing to determine whether aerobic exercise should be part of your approach to developing the body of a dancer.

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The Top Ten Reasons Why People Do Not Come In for Their First Dance Lesson & Why They Are All Wrong

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Even before people walk in the door for their first lesson, they come up with all sorts of objections to why they should not learn how to dance. Trying out something new for the first time is scary. It takes guts to learn a new skill. It is so much easier to put it off. We have heard all the excuses under the sun and they are ALL wrong.

For over 100 years, Arthur Murray dance studios all over the world have been teaching people how to dance. We pride ourselves in ensuring that the lessons we teach are fun, quick and easy so that anyone can learn how to dance in no time!

 1.      “ I’m too busy”

This is the number one reason we hear from old and new students alike. It’s true: life gets in the way sometimes. Between work and family- there are always a…

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“Would You Like to Dance?” Part I: Social Dance Tips for Guys



2007, before I started teaching dance lessons, I wanted to end my reign as President of our local USA Dance chapter by offering our members one additional social dance to the schedule. So, we rented space at a local venue, created our music playlist and voila! ~ we had the makings of a very pleasant dance. You might be thinking how nice! Well. . .  it was for the couples who attended. But for the 3 single ladies who were there (me, my mother and another chapter member) it was pretty miserable.
The couples all migrated to the opposite end of the room to dance and socialize. We sat for 45 minutes before anyone approached us to ask us to dance (and in the world of social dancing that’s a “no no”). So there we were, among our own dance peers and no one had the courtesy to ask us to dance. Finally, only by the grace of a “mixer”  (a dance designed for partners to rotate so everyone has the chance to dance) we danced.

Couple dancing - cartoon So, men, this leads me to Social Dance Tip #1: if you are a married or dancing couple sitting at a table with single ladies at a ballroom social dance, it would be most kind and courteous if  you would ask a lady to dance. This, of course, should be of mutual consent with your dance partner. Just one dance, just 3 minutes out of your night. And even if you dance with 4 ladies that’s probably less than 15 minutes out of a 3 hour event.  It doesn’t mean you have to ask again, and it doesn’t mean you have to accept additional invitations to dance from other women, but at least you have extended the social grace by inviting a lady to dance who doesn’t have a partner. After all, they paid the same admission price (sometimes more as a single) to dance and should have that opportunity. I realize it’s your date night too, but it’s a polite gesture and will allow others to see that she is available to dance. Who knows? She could end up with a full dance card when others see her on the floor.

What’s Tip 2? Stay tuned for Part II coming soon.


Do you have a social dance tip to share? Drop me a line on my Facebook page “Ballroom Made Simple” or contact me at

Talking docs and dance with Christian Holten Bonke and Andreas Koefoed


Directors Andreas (left) and Christian (right)

Hitting UK cinemas this week, the documentary Ballroom Dancer reveals the emotional strain hidden behind the make-up, smiles and sequinned outfits in the world of professional dancing. DG’s Joëlle Pouliot talked pirrouettes and docs with the film’s directors.

Filmmakers Christian Holten Bonke and Andreas Koefoed sat down with Joëlle Pouliot this week to discuss what they discovered in the process of filming  l’enfant terrible of the dance world – Slavik Kryklyvyy –  while he fought to be the dancing star once more. The strenght of this story? According to the directors many of us will relate to his ongoing struggle for success.


DG: How did you come across dancers Slavik Kryklyvyy and Anna Melnikova, and decide to make them the focus of your film?

CHB: Our producerJakob (Nordenhof Jonck) is married to a former dancer who used to compete in the high level of ballroom dancing. Hetold us about it and we thought that this was an environment that hadn’t really been portrayed yet. What caught our interest was that most of these couples are couples privately and professionally, which must be really hard, to intertwine those two spheres.

We started following the world champions, Joanna Leunis and Michael Malitowski and Anna Melnikova’s former partner who was dancing with another Ukrainian girl. After a while, we kept hearing about Slavik who was a bit of a legend in that environment. When we finally got a hold of him, we met him once, filmed him once and thought: okay, this guy is so dramatic and he’s got so much at stake! He was in the end of his career and it was a do or die for him. So we decided to stick to him and skip the other couples.


DG: Why did you choose not to include any of his former dance partners in the film, in particular Joanna Leunis who seemed to haunt Slavik as she became so successful after they stopped dancing together?

CHB: We liked her to be a distant symbol of a dream he once had. We thought about putting her in there but we really realised during the editing process that we needed to focus on him and see the world through his eyes.

We wanted to be very serious about it. We didn’t come from that environment and didn’t know much about it. Initially, we found it a little bit corny and were laughing when we first filmed the competitions. It’s a little absurd, that whole thing. After a while our laugh faded and we looked at it through Slavik’s point of view. He’s a very serious guy and had a lot at stake.


DG: Why do you think Slavik was so open to having you film his most difficult moments and to having his inner demons revealed on camera?

CHB: I think he is a performer and he likes to be portrayed, to stay in the limelight.  But I think often when you point a camera towards someone, something happens; it’s like self-therapy for the person being portrayed. I think at a subconscious level he wanted to see what this could bring him to be doing it.


DG: Where there times were you felt he was staging it or was this genuinely who he was?

CHB: Anna felt that Slavik actually behaved in the film (laughs), so I don’t think he put out any extra drama for the film. He doesn’t stand out as too sympathetic at times but I actually think he toned it down a little bit and didn’t give us any drama just for the sake of the film.

I think most people are a little scared of him. He seems a little brutal and aggressive in his fight for success and doesn’t always treat Anna very well. But the people who seem to sympathise with him when they see the film are people with big dreams themselves. On that note I think it’s a film that a lot of people can recognize themselves in. In modern day society, success is what we are all striving for, we work extremely hard and this is a film about the consequences about being too single minded on your career.


DG: Anna seems to grow an inch taller throughout the film as she builds more confidence. There’s a lot going on in her personal life there. Was she comfortable with you filming all of it?

CHB: She was completely open with the process. She really develops during the film; it really shows her liberation as a woman. She starts off as a little insecure Russian girl and she ends up as a beautiful self-assured woman. It’s quite amazing how much she changes throughout the story.


DG: Towards the end of the film, Slavik can’t seem to tell Anna how he really feels. The song “Always on my mind” by Michael Bubblé starts playing as they dance together. Did you add that music for the doc or is that what Slavik chose to play?

AK: They had actually been practicing the particular dance to this track. But of course the lyrics to the track are so precise to the description of their partnership. It’s almost too much. I don’t think we could have added that track to the scene ourselves because it would have been too obvious. It was very touching because what Slavik couldn’t express in words, he could express through that song and dance.”


DG: Was there anything that you didn’t include in the film that you wish you could have?

AK: We felt that we could have included more of Slavik’s past and maybe his childhood. We actually tried a few times to film him with his father who used to be a body builder in Ukraine. We knew that Slavik wanted to impress his father and live up to him. He told us he was striving for that. That part of his life would have been nice to include but it wasn’t possible because Slavik kept us out of that and we didn’t get the chance to meet his father. It might have been a key to Slavik’s personality, to his ambition and longing for perfection.

I think he had some limits on how much he wanted to include us in his family and private life. He liked us to be in his space between him and Anna but not further than that. When you make documentaries you have to respect people’s limitations and when they say no you can’t force it too much. Slavik and Anna were already very generous for letting us into their lives.


DG: Any plans for future collaborations as directors? What are your solo projects?

AK: We are working on different projects separately now. But it’s been a great collaboration so we are definitely open to doing it again at some point, with the right story.


Ballroom Dancer was released in UK cinemas 18 January. It won Best Documentary at the Raindance Film Festival in London and an award for Best New Documentary Filmmaker at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

How to Master Simple Ballroom Dancing


The pumpkin just turned into a carriage, your glass slippers look fantastic, and the Prince is on his way, but — dammit — you still need to learn how to ballroom dance.

You Will Need

  • A partner
  • A dance floor
  • Masking tape
  • Waltz music
  • Breath freshener

Step 1

Get a partner

While belly dancing and ballet can be done solo, ballroom dancing is always done in pairs. Ask a friend to help you out.

Step 2

Perfect your posture

Perfect your posture. Unlike casual dancing, a ballroom dancer doesn’t slouch or lean on their partner. Both the man and the woman must elongate their neck and body. Practice correct posture by standing straight against a wall.

Step 3

Position the head

Look over each other’s right shoulder. Now imagine you’re the most beautiful person on earth who has just met the other most beautiful person on earth. What’s that feel like? Exactly. Keep that expression throughout the dance.

Step 4

Adjust your hand position

Hold hands correctly. This means the man’s raised left hand holds the woman’s right hand, palms facing each other. The man’s right hand connects with the woman’s shoulder blade. His hand should be cupped, fingers together. The woman’s left hand should be on the man’s right shoulder, her fingers at the seam of his sleeve.

Step 5

Position your body

Having the perfect “closed dance hold” means the woman is just slightly to the right of the man. This way the legs move between each other and the knees don’t hit.

When the couple is a man and a woman, the man generally takes the lead. In couples with just one sex, a decision will have to be made.


Step 6

Draw a square on the floor

Now that you have the basic positioning, learn the basic waltz box step, the most common step in ballroom dances like the rumba, waltz, or foxtrot. Start by taping out a small box on the floor.

Step 7

Practice counting

Practice counting one, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three. This will be the essential timing, and the sooner it feels natural, the better.

Step 8

Make a box with your feet

Practice alone making a box with your feet. To make the first half of the box, step forward with your left foot — which is “one” — and slide your right foot to meet it and then step to the right (two). Your weight now shifts to the right foot so your left slides to meet it (three).

Step 9

Finish the box

Now finish the box. Step back with your right foot (one) and slide your left to meet it and then to the left (two). Your weight now shifts to the left foot so your right slides to meet it (three).

If you’re in the women’s role, you will step backward to start.


Step 10

Practice counting to music

Now put it together, doing the box step by yourself in time to your one-two-three counting.

Step 11

Practice with a partner

Now practice with a partner. Count off five, six, seven, eight before you begin so you’ll both be prepared to start together on one.

Dancing is a close contact sport. Make sure your breath is okay before you start. Use a breath freshener.


Step 12

Move around the floor

After you feel comfortable with the box step, forget confining yourself strictly to the box, and let yourself move more naturally around the floor.

Step 13

Start to turn

Once you’re able to loosen up while keeping time with the beat, try turning. Turn slightly to the right as you step on one and two; you’ll begin traveling in a circle as you keep your basic box pattern.

Step 14

Remember to maintain posture

Remember to maintain your posture at all times, keeping your connection points. Stand up straight, Quasimodo! Good ballroom dancers never slouch or disconnect.

Step 15

Practice every chance you get

Now that you know how to do a basic waltz box step, practice every chance you get. This is just the beginning. Get out there and dance, dance, dance!

“Waltz” comes from the German word “walzen,” which means to turn or roll.