Like Grizzly Man, often when people practice ballroom dancing, I'm waiting for something to go wrong.
Here's where you get in your own way:
Here's the thing about mental practice, or visualization: you have to have done The Thing before you try to visualize yourself doing it.
"I tried it in my head all week."
"I thought about all the things you told me."
While it is great that dancing is on your mind, if you are in the learning process, just picturing yourself doing proper technique won't cut the cheese because YOUR BODY NEEDS TO LEARN TO CUT THE CHEESE... or something like that.
Or I would dance like this:
Your muscles and bones need to learn how to move FIRST before you start using visualization. Muscle memory and your brain put together is a GLORIOUS thing, but if you don't have the muscle memory in plce, you're just daydreaming.
Repetition is one of the cornerstones of a good practice regimen. But one question people often ask is, "What if I practice it wrong?"
Generally speaking, I'm unconcerned by incorrectness during practice, because for Pete's sake, you're practicing. That is wonderful.
The problem arises when you're practicing something that is detrimental to your body. Too much foot pressure, posture out of alignment, knees going askew. Clues you might be doing something wrong are obvious. Like the old doctor joke goes, "If it hurts, don't do it."
Pain and soreness are different beasts, though. Most dancers have to build up a whole set of muscles that normal people never use. Your feet should be sore as hell after practicing latin motion. You should not have a SHARP PAIN anywhere. Your back should be burning after working on your frame. Your hip should not be "tweaking".
Above Your Level
If you want to throw yourself into a Gold or Advanced class and you started dancing two weeks ago, more power to you. You are a strong person to pay for an hour during which you'll wander around cluelessly trying to keep up with syncopations and partnering positions you don't understand while enduring eyerolls and dirty looks from a large group of people.
If you just started two weeks ago and see more experienced dancers doing latin motion and sway and sway (see: any of the "Don't Dance" series), but you haven't been taught anything about those techniques and you start practicing them, you will create some bad habits.
Ballroom dancing was created with levels to give you a nice little staircase to climb, with one technique building on the previous one. When you skip a level (and, say, try to do continuity-style American Silver Smooth before you know how to close your feet on each half of a box), you're missing a big peice of what makes dancing beautiful aaaaaaand EASY.
Also, if no one has taught you, you are probably doing something wrong, so see "Repetition" above.
So, DO you practice? What do you do? Got any exercises you'd like to share? I'm going to show you my posture exercises next week, so get ready.
One year ago: Don't Drink It.