Most people think they need a partner to practice and it's simply not true. There are plenty of exercises we can do to practice on our own that will benefit our dancing greatly. I'm going to outline some of those exercises you can practice on your own no matter what skill or age level you are at.
1. Stretch and warm up first - Doing some light stretching will help prepare your muscles to move. Going overboard with stretching can injure your muscles so make sure to keep the stretching nice and light. You can start from the neck by stretching side to side, moving on to rolling the shoulders forwards and backwards, followed by twisting the spine right and left like the agitator on a washing machine. Keep working your way down the body by bending over to try and touch your toes for a few seconds and then roll the ankles right and left in a circular motion.
2. Practice your walks - Whether you focus on ballroom or latin dances or both, I suggest practicing how to walk. We all know that these walks are very different from the walks we take in every day life so this is a great way to prepare our bodies for the dances we're working on. Focus on things like keeping your feet parallel (ballroom) or turned out (Latin), how the foot is staying connected with the floor and of course, posture.
3. Practice a pattern - I recommend practicing a pattern or two that you are working on with your instructor. These may be difficult to get through on your own but the point is to get your brain working on it's own rather than completely relying on your instructor or partner to guide you through it. I suggest asking your teacher if you can video record the pattern or write it down right after your lesson so that when you go back to it for practicing, it won't get immensely frustrating.
4. Practice your routine - For those of you preparing for a showcase or competition, I strongly recommend going through routines on your own. It is a whole other experience that will make you know those routines inside and out, find your own balance and just focus on what you need to do, not your partner. It may take awhile to go through it but you will feel so much more prepared for that performance by doing this.
Remember that the time you dedicate to practicing doesn't have to be a lot but what you put into it is what you will get back. You can practice all four of these points or just one or two of them, but you will see progress happen so much faster even if it's just ten seconds a day.
Happy dancing my friends!