Many groups have posted tips for beginners and experienced dancers alike, in order to help everyone understand the structure and culture of international folk dancing. Here's our list of tips that may help you enjoy the dancing we do.

    • Have fun! The most important thing is to have fun, while not interfering with anyone else's desire to have fun too. Thus, it's more important to generally keep moving with the line than to get the steps exactly right. It's also important to keep smiling - don't worry too much about your footwork, as that will come as you practice and gain experience.

    • Learn the basic steps. Most dances have the same components, but in different combinations and orders. There are many of these components (e.g. the yemenite step from Israeli dancing, the Lesnoto step (step, lift, step) from Macedonian dancing, a basic two-step (step, step, step;), and others.) While we don't have a class on just the basic components, most teachers will break dances down into these components and review them as part of teaching the dance. Recognizing them and practicing them on your own will make learning new dances much easier.

    • Join in at the end or the middle. If you don't know a dance that's being taught, join in at the trailing end of the line (usually the left end as you're behind the line, but not if the dance is Breton or Croatian) or the middle if you're not sure which end is leading. This allows a more experienced dancer to worry about curving the line around the room, and takes some pressure off of you to keep the line moving forward. When people dance to live music in the Balkans, the leader of the line may have paid the band to play his or her favorite song, and it would be a serious insult to step in front of them. For everyone's enjoyment of the dance, it makes more sense to join at the end or in the middle of the line.

    • Dance behind the line to learn. If you don't know a dance that's just being danced (e.g. during request dancing), but you're interested in trying to dance it, it's often best to try dancing behind the line at first. This gives you an opportunity to see the steps and try them out without interfering with the dancers who know the dance. Once you think you understand the steps fairly well, then join in the dance as above (at the end or in the middle). However, now you want to try to join the line in a way that doesn't distract others already doing the dance - try to join during a slow part, or where the dancers are dancing in place as opposed to moving rapidly in one direction.

    • Many hand holds - bring a belt. There are a variety of hand holds in international folk dancing - lower ("V"), upper ("W"), shoulder, front or back basket hold, or belt. Most just use your hands in different ways, but it's a good idea to bring a belt to dancing for those advanced Bulgarian dances and others where they're used.