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Deliberate Practice in West Coast Swing

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Finally, a context where I can apply Deliberate Practice in a clear and uncomplicated way (vs Software Engineering or Research)!

I thought, but haven't found a program that I'd be super happy with so far.

So this is where I'll post some notes on ways I found it helpful to practice

General notes

Keep track of what you learned and what you want to practice

Record recap videos for the lessons you're taking

Ask friends to record you when you dance and use it to see what you'd like to improve in your dance

you can also ask more experienced people to view it and give you feedback

WestiePro - a service that allows you to request video breakdown from pros.

For each practice session/social dance - have a specific thing you want to focus on. intention setting

This is touching on a related concept of Deliberate Performance - in this context - incorporating the focus on getting better into your social dance.

One personally relevant example is paying attention to the frame and connection while dancing socially.

Arguably this is how you ultimately internalize most dance skills

the frame of the deliberate performance is useful to push you to add new things, maintain that focus on improvement vs falling back on what is comfortable

I keep a note with the intentions for the upcoming dance nights

But I struggle to actually keep it in mind during the night

I'm thinking about getting an accountability buddy rn

A related thing I'm experimenting with at WCS Bay Area Discord - is setting intentions together

This helps with remembering to actually set the intentions and serves as a soft form of accountability, though it doesn't replace accountability buddies as no specific person has a responsibility for any other person.

Beware burnout - sometimes it's good just dance and enjoy the flow

Schedule practice sessions with your fellow students

A more relaxed practice environment where you can focus on working on a specific thing and get feedback from your partners and peers.

It removes the pressure of trying to do your best, which I often feel on a social dance floor and allows you to focus on improvement.

In this context it feels ok to do the same movement/pattern many times, experiment with variations, and generally try things that have a high chance of failing, but that would make you better in a long run.


They will know more/different things then you

Or sometimes they can point out when something feels weird even if they don't exactly know what's wrong

Prepare specific questions you can ask an instructor at the next lesson

During a practice or social dance the questions would often arise for me:

I'm not quite sure how to perform a particular technique right

When I lead a pattern X - the followers find it confusing - what am I doing wrong.

It's good to record them and ask them next time you have access to a more experienced dancer.

Skill tree

Not something I've managed to find so far

Some things are clearly foundational (e.g. basic patterns, good connection)

But I would love to see what comes next and also nuts and bolts explanation of them

For example for wcs/connection I've benefitted a lot from feedback of people around me, but it was very sporadic

I'd love to have specific questions I can ask myself/partner and next things to work on

You learn a set of approximations at each level, which are fake but help you get to the next level where you develop a more nuanced understanding.

Private Lessons ?

Plausibly the most effective way (mentorship is consistently very effective), but haven't really done any so far, bc of the associated costs and the feeling that I'm still learning a lot each time I go to a lesson/workshop

How does one choose a mentor?


Teaching experience

Word of mouth

Plan to experiment with them soon

https://www.privatelessonfund.com/ - there is a charity that would fund low-income people to get private lessons.

Referenced in

West Coast Swing

See Deliberate Practice in West Coast Swing on me figuring out how to get better at WCS