I would like to offer my professional opinion on learning to dance from ballroom dancing instructional videos. Whether you are tempted to watch YouTube videos, or even DVDs, there are certain activities that can’t be learned only by watching someone else do it. You need feedback. You need someone who would watch you do it, and then give you feedback.
In addition to ballroom dancing instructional videos, there are also tv stations that offer instructional sessions on dancing. My issue with this format is the average mind panics to a certain extent. This is because you’re expected to keep up with the instructor unless you intend to rewind and re-watch a lot. Again, with this format you don’t get feedback from an instructor telling you what to improve on.
Of course, this is the most economical form of learning to dance. It’s also the most comforting and least threatening because you do it in the privacy of your house. But the option of asking questions about what was said is not there.
Another issue is that the human mind doesn’t always have a good perception of exactly where our body parts are. Try holding your hand directly above your shoulder. If you’re convinced that you are, in fact, holding your hand directly above your shoulder, then keep it there and walk up to a mirror. You’re in for a surprise. In most cases your hand is not close to being directly above your shoulder. My point is that if an instructor in those videos tells you to do something, and you believe that you are following those directions but in reality you’re not, when you try to dance it with a partner mistakes (and possibly injuries) will happen.
Importantly, the biggest issue with doing anything incorrectly for an extended period of time is that it becomes ingrained in you. Scientifically speaking, there are two ways that humans learn anything. One way is by studying. For example, it’s like when we go to school. As we study books and literature, we learn mentally. This learning enters our short term memory. If it’s reinforced in short intervals of time, then it goes into our long term memory.
The other form of learning is physical learning. Some call this muscle memory. Physical learning takes place through physically performing a task over and over. There are many tasks that we learn over a lifetime. For example: driving a car, riding a bike, getting dressed, brushing your teeth, tying shoelaces, and much more. Once these tasks are learned, we perform them without much thought as to how we do them. We don’t need as much focus or concentration either, as they become a part of our programmed motor functions. Yet the problem with physical learning is that once something is programmed, it’s there for life.
My point is that if you plan on learning to dance any type of dance (ballroom dance, Disco dance, or Latin dance) by watching instructional videos, you may want to consider what I’m saying. If you learn to move or step incorrectly, and you do it long enough that it becomes ingrained in you, you’ll end up spending much more time and money to undo bad habits.
There are many old adages about how someone shouldn’t be their own doctor, lawyer, etc. Learning physical activities such as playing an instrument, golf, and learning to dance should be done from an instructor that’s live in front of you. If you have had at least up to a Bronze Two or Three level education at a reputable dance studio, then perhaps you can consider learning additional patterns from instructional videos if cost is an issue. But you may still want to have a private lesson occasionally to see what you need to focus on.