For people who are interested in learning ballroom dance and don’t have access to a studio (or do have access but would rather learn in the privacy of your home), the Ballroom Dance Channel (a website begun by several Dancing Wtih the Stars pro dancers) is offering downloadable lessons that you can watch via computer, or, apparently now via an iphone as well. I was given a little preview of two of the basic lessons: the samba and the salsa.
The lessons I watched were very very basic, and were a couple of minutes long. They give you a good overview of the basic step — separating the man’s footwork from the lady’s, the partnering handhold and connection, and the timing. These lessons didn’t teach any technique (such as how to move the hips, in connection with the shoulders, lats (back muscles), and pelvis, or how to roll through the foot), or any styling, but they also have a technique series, presumably for those things (which I haven’t looked at). I think the good thing about these lessons is that you can watch them over and over again, so if you’re a real beginner (and most true beginners have a hard time picking up the basic steps — particularly men 🙂 ) it might be a good idea to pick up some of these lessons and watch them several times before going to your first class. That way you’ll be ahead of the game.
My computer doesn’t always play videos so well (particularly those in QuickTime) so it’s hard for me to judge the actual video quality, but it looks pretty good. None of the teachers on the videos I watched were DWTS pros, but they looked like very good dancers.
If you don’t have access to a studio, I’d definitely recommend picking up the technique lessons in tandem with those teaching the basics. Each video is $4.99. Group lessons at ballroom studios run about $25 for 50 minutes; $80-90 for a month-long set of four taken once per week. In most introductory group lessons (by which I mean the whole month-long set) you’ll learn about four basic step patterns, the handhold, frame, connection, and maybe a tiny bit of technique and styling. So, depending on how much you use the video, I guess the pricing is fairly comparable. I strongly feel, though, that there’s no substitute for actual classes — teachers are there to help you work your body properly (which prevents injury), and it’s social, so it forces you to meet new people, learn to work with a variety of partners, and to dance for an entire 50 minutes!
Go here to check out the videos.