Cut Loose

By Amy Winter

March 4, 2011 4 min read

You have picked out the perfect outfit and made all the last-minute plans for prom. It is time to go and have fun with your friends, but you can't stop stressing about the dance floor. How will you be able to impress your date when you lack the proper dance moves? Dr. Robert Wallace, a former principal and a syndicated teen advice columnist, says that dancing is encouraged at prom, but the event also includes talking, listening to music and socializing with friends.

"I don't think teens are expected to dance at prom, but dancing is a big part of the night," says Treva Bedinghaus, dance guide at About.com. "If some teens feel uncomfortable dancing, they shouldn't feel bad about it. There will be people who attend prom to merely socialize."

But you probably will have more fun at prom if you take part in the dancing, especially because the event features a DJ and a dance floor, says Cassandra Morris, prom guide at About.com. Dancing can be seen as scary, but teens need to learn to relax and act confident. James Bassil, editor-in-chief of AskMen, says that many men are terrified of dancing. At dancing events, guys will either not dance at all and lurk by the wall or try to overcome their fear by acting like clowns with humorous dance moves and jokes while on the dance floor.

"Dancing can be intimidating, especially if you've never done it before," Morris says. "But remember that you're not the only one who is unsure about dancing ability."

In order to overcome dance anxiety, practice dancing beforehand. Morris suggests listening to a top 40 radio station and trying to dance in front of a mirror. It is important to move your body with the rhythm. Bassil recommends practicing dance moves in a less stressful social environment, such as at a house party; you will get some experience by observing other dancers.

Or you could watch online dance videos. Check out some dance moves on YouTube. Find videos with club dancing scenes, and focus on how background dancers move their arms and legs, Morris advises. Try to copy or simplify a few of their moves. Look for online dance tutorials.

Dance lessons also could help when you are preparing for prom. Morris suggests a hip-hop or street dance class. Some studios provide special dance classes for proms or weddings, according to Bedinghaus. If you are unable to pay for dance classes, Wallace says that some high schools offer social dancing as a physical education class.

When it comes to fast dancing, it is important to appear confident even when feeling self-conscious. Maintain good posture by putting your shoulders back and holding up your chin. Morris suggests being aware of facial expressions. Smile and try to keep away from the "I am terrified" look. Sing the song lyrics; move with the music; snap your fingers; clap your hands; make small talk with your date. Bassil stresses that you want to blend in with the crowd instead of standing out for the wrong reasons. Avoid flailing your arms, jumping, shouting and doing extreme dance moves. Bassil recommends "leaving the moves to the professionals."

If you aren't confident enough to try fast dancing, slow dancing may be the perfect way to start on the dance floor. Move in a slow circle. The girl should put her arms around the guy's neck, and the guy should place his hands around the girl's waist. Morris describes it as "hugging someone and swaying for three minutes." Be sure to watch your feet and avoid stepping on your date's shoes.

Both boys and girls can experience dancing anxiety, but it is important to remember that prom is supposed to be a fun and enjoyable high-school event.

"Try not to spend too much time staring at other people and comparing yourself with them," Morris says. "Concentrate on what you know you're good at and how fab you look in your prom outfit instead of concentrating on your perceived flaws."

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