Ballroom Dancing, Bruce Lee, and the Art of Non-verbal Communication
Although ballroom dancing and martial arts might seem unrelated in many ways, there's a reason why martial art master Bruce Lee was also a good ballroom dancer, and there's a reason why some of the most masterful martial art masters in the world -- like the aikido master Ken Ota -- also run ballroom dancing studios where they teach style, grace, and etiquette along with self-defense.
When you see the common ground between the two practices, it gives you a better understanding of the nature of ballroom dancing.
You realize that it's all about the art of nonverbal communication.
Show, Don't Tell
When someone is learning ballroom dancing, they must inevitably practice with someone who is more experienced. Although it is certainly possible to teach a class by verbal instruction, at some point hands-on instruction comes into play, and it is often the most valuable method of teaching a student to dance. After all, good dancing is all about feel and timing.
In martial arts, it relies heavily pair-based training, and as students are paired off and learn to both attack and defend, their muscle memory begins to memorize the innate rhythms that the human body creates.
They begin to learn how to communicate with others non-verbally, and it truly is an art form.
In these settings of intense training, martial arts instructors often forbid talking so that students are forced to use their body movements to teach. Although ballroom dancing is usually much more relaxed than an intense dojo, the art of dancing relies just as heavily on the art of non-verbal communication.
Bottom-line? When you come to a ballroom dancing class, be prepared to learn by doing. Of course, every instructor has their own style, but inevitably you will be thrown into the joy and intensity of learning steps, and the more you engage with your body, the more you will master the art of non-verbal communication.