So you've got the basics. You've taken ownership of your own development. You've put in the hours and dare to feel a bit confident...
What next? How do you go from good to great?
Hell, I don't think I'm there yet - but I reckon I've at least figured out what it takes to be great - someone who people look up to, want to dance with, and want to emulate.
Listen to your partner
For leads, this means working out how your partner likes to dance, and adjusting what you do to suit. Whether your partner prefers time to style and shine, simple moves done well or dancing through complex turn patterns. It's dancing at, or just above your partner's level.
For follows, it's not anticipating your partner and truly listening to what they are trying to signal. Don't finish the lead's sentence. If your partner doesn't dance exactly your style, try and meet them halfway.
Groove with the music
Every track is different, and truly great dancers reflect the music they are dancing to. When the music is chilled or on a break, they chill out their dancing. When the music builds, so does the intensity of the dance. They match the mood of the music, and find the story in it - telling the story through their movement.
Together, two great dancers paint their own interpretation of the music. Get this right and you'll never get bored of dancing.
So many good dancers I see get so wrapped up in technique, that they forget to have fun - with the music and with their partner. They correct people when they think they're doing it wrong, stand aloof and work through their dances like a robot.
Really great dancers, see every dance as an opportunity to have fun with their partner - whoever they might be. They laugh off mistakes and really connect in a meaningful way. They're inspiring, build their partner's confidence and people want to dance with them.
Notice that in the points above, I didn't say 'learn a shed load of new moves', 'master dancing On2' or 'practise shines until it hurts'. These things are just a framework for really dancing.
But who am I to say, it's all subjective at the end of the day. Dancing is what you make of it! Let me know what you think in the comments.