Tuesday Night Couple Dancing Classes
Taught by Richard Powers with Rocky Aikens
Tuesday evenings, January 16 to February 20
A six-week series of partnered social dance classes
held in the large dance hall of the First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Have questions? Check out our FAQ at the bottom of this page.
Bachata and Salsa
7:00 pm - 7:55 pm
Learn noncompetitive social Salsa and Bachata (and also Cha Cha, because it has the same figures as Salsa.) We'll go through the basics then on to many variations. This is also a great introduction to couple dancing.
No dance experience is required, just a fun-loving attitude and enthusiasm.
Viennese Ball Dances
8:00 - 8:55 pm
Several kinds of waltzing will be covered, including the original waltz from the Strauss Era, reverse Viennese waltz, redowa, freestyle waltz variations, and more! This class is the best preparation for the Stanford Viennese Ball.
Prerequisite: For those who know a waltz of any kind.
Intermediate to Advanced:
Cross-Step Waltz Variations
9:00 pm - 9:55 pm
Dancers all over the world have been creating new variations, with over 1,750 videos of cross-step waltz now on YouTube! Richard will teach his favorites of the new variations. Ramp up to the next level with this class.
Prerequisite: Some experience with basic cross-step waltz, or being a fast learner.
$40 for students, $60 for non-students for each of the three courses.
The price includes all six classes.
The rent has gone up three times in the past year and a half, but we are keeping these prices the same as before.
Each hour-long class costs about $6.50 (students), and $10 (non-students).
At a fraction of the cost at most other studios, these classes are a great value.
Once you've made the drive, stay for a second or third class!
Richard Powers has been teaching contemporary and historic social dance for 45 years. He leads workshops around the world and is currently a full-time instructor at Stanford University's Dance Division.
Rocky is a protégé of Richard's who brings her own touch to the dance floor. Her dancing is shaped by more than a decade of social dance experience across genres and dance roles.
The Dance Space
First United Methodist Church
625 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301
The community space at First United Methodist Church is a large dance space with a wood floor. It is located in downtown Palo Alto, biking distance from Stanford campus.
Some parking is available in the church parking lot. There is also an abundance of street parking, and the large Webster/Cowper parking garage one block away.
Beginning: Bachata and Salsa (which includes Cha Cha)
The emphasis will be on ease, comfort and pleasure. Richard teaches the most accessible and popular style of noncompetitive Latin dance, with a focus on partnering and flexibility, to enable students to dance comfortably with partners whose experience comes from any dance tradition.
This social style of dancing allows personal expression without requiring rigid technique. The resulting flexibility will give you the confidence to lead and follow anybody, to either fit in or stand out as you wish.
Bachata basics are so easy that you will master them in only two classes. Then we move on to Salsa and Cha Cha, which share all of the same figures, so every pattern that you learn in one dance also works in the other. This makes the classes easier, and helps you remember the figures.
Then we'll go beyond the basics into the figures that stand out—cross-body lead, Sombrero, and shine steps.
Learn how to dance through an entire piece of music without feeling repetitious, with specific suggestions on how to borrow motifs from swing and other dances you may already know.
Salsa benefits greatly from taking this class one more time. It sometimes takes a while for the moves and style to get comfortably into the body. Then you find it is becoming instinctive.
This class is a fun place to start partner dancing, or continue after taking Intro Waltz or Swing.
If you already dance, bring a friend who doesn't. This is a great way to introduce someone to couple dancing.
No prerequisites, just a fun-loving attitude and lots of enthusiasm!
Intermediate: Viennese Ball Dances
This class goes beyond the steps—to the magic of the most romantic partner dance. Read these classic quotations about the romance of the waltz.
This is a great way to prepare for the Stanford Viennese Ball on March 2nd. All six classes in this course will be completed before the ball.
This is always the largest Tuesday night class of the year. It goes beyond learning the steps, to mastering them.
Several kinds of waltzing will be covered, including the original waltz from the Strauss Era, reverse (modern ballroom Viennese waltz), leap waltz, polka, and the redowa—the closest thing to flying on a dance floor.
Learn freestyle waltz variations, which are fun to dance spontaneously, even with a less experienced partner. These are fairly easy variations that can be led and followed without needing to be rehearsed in advance.
It you already know these variations, bring a friend who only knows a basic waltz. This is a wonderful way to introduce someone to the wide world of waltz variations.
This is not a beginner's waltz class. The prerequisite is familiarity with a basic waltz of any kind (polka also counts).
If you've learned some waltz but it's rusty (perhaps because of the pandemic), don't worry. The basics will be covered before moving on to the finer points and variations.
Intermediate to Advanced: New Variations in Cross-Step Waltz
Richard has been teaching cross-step waltz around the world for decades, and planting those seeds has led to the creation of a cornucopia of new variations!
There are now over 1,750 videos of cross-step waltz on YouTube. Many are from Russia, where Richard has been teaching cross-step waltz since 2012. There is even a Russian Cross-Step Waltz Federation with extensive workshops in the creation of new figures. (This is not Putin's Russia, btw. These are creative young people who know how to access the real news.) You can watch those 1,760 videos here.
Follows especially love how flowing cross-step waltz feels, as Leads constantly adjust to maximize their partner's experience.
These are the intermediate/advanced variations which are never taught in the daytime social dance classes. You can continue taking this intermediate to advanced level indefinitely.
Learn it from the source while you can. Richard is recognized as the world's expert on cross-step waltz, and the author of the official book on it.
When Waltz Etcetera in Seattle sent out their class schedule featuring cross-step waltz, they wrote, "Cross-step waltz is a delightful, swooping, playful dance: It's our favorite kind of waltz and the core of a lot of what we teach. The structure of cross-step waltz lends itself to many elegant variations much more so than other kinds of waltz." The director Zachariah Cassady added further, "this wonderful dance, my personal favorite, is the best partner dance in the world."
Practical skills include leading and following secrets, to develop more collaborative partnering skills.
If you already know many variations, bring a friend who only knows the basics. This is a great way to introduce someone to the very creative world of cross-step waltz.
Prerequisite: Knowing any kind of waltz, or being a quick study in learning new dance forms.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are three rules in social dance:
Smile at your partner
Laugh at yourself.
If you and your partner are having fun, you're doing great.
...that being said, here are some things you might also want to know:
Do I need a partner?
Nope! We rotate partners in class. This really speeds up learning for everyone and puts the "social" in "social dancing." You have the option to enroll with a partner who you can start and end the class with, but it is perfectly normal not to have one.
We roll balance the classes upon registration, so you won't have to worry about not having a partner often, due to too many Leads or Follows in the class.
Do you really really want to dance only with the partner you came with? Talk to your instructor when you arrive. It's not absolutely required to rotate partners (especially if you have health concerns about rotating), but you will learn faster if you dance with many people.
What do I wear?
Clothes: Wear comfortable clothes that you can move around in.
Note: Some dance moves involve spins. If you arrive in a skirt, you may be more comfortable with shorts underneath.
Shoes: For beginner classes, most shoes will be serviceable, and many students will even wear socks to class. Don't let a lack of perfect shoes keep you from dancing. If you have some options, opt for comfortable shoes with somewhat slippy bottoms (cloth or leather soles work well). Sneakers can have too much traction. Avoid high, spiked heels or big, chunky shoes with platform soles. They don't generally afford enough agility and can be dangerous and painful if you happen to step on your partner's foot.
What is your COVID-19 policy?
We request that all students are vaccinated against COVID-19. Masks are still recommended, but are optional.
What if I have no dance experience?
One thing that makes social dance special is that most social dancers begin dancing as adults. You will not be alone.
What if I have to miss a class?
Missing a class or two is not a problem, as long as you find ways to keep up with the material. We always send emails with descriptions and demonstration videos of what we learned. You can read the descriptions, and/or watch the videos, and practice on your own.
Should I pre-register as a Lead or Follow?
That's entirely up to you!
In most partner dancing, the "Lead" suggests which dance moves to do, and the "Follow" interprets cues from the Lead. In the Old Days, the "men" led, and the "ladies" followed, but many things were different in the Old Days. Nowadays, many dancers eventually learn both roles.
We do ask that you pick one role and stick with it for the whole six week class so that you don't fall behind. Also, enrollment is role-balanced, and if you switch roles, you may cause an imbalance, and others may have to stand out more often in rotations.
The Enrollment Game: We role-balance enrollment. If you are willing to dance either role, you may have an easier time getting into classes. If you are waitlisted for a particular role, please let us know if you're willing to sign up for the other role.
What's my registration status?
Classes typically fill up, and we also role-balance enrollment, so filling out the registration form does not guarantee that you are in the class.
When your enrollment request is processed, we will send you an email with your status. You will either be admitted, waitlisted because the class is full, or waitlisted because of role balance. If you are admitted, you will get an email with a link to pay for the course. If you are waitlisted, we will send you a follow-up email if/when you make it off the waitlist.
Can I take more than one class?
Yes! As long as you've made the trip, stay for one or two more classes that you think you might be qualified for.