Many people assume that dance is like riding a bike. Once they get to a certain level of dance they assume will be able to take leave of dance for an extended period. When they return to dance they then also assume it will be with enough skill to practically pick up where they left off (or maybe a little behind). Is this really the case?
If it were the case, then it would be assumed that much of dance can be automated and that little mental effort is required to dance. However, it has been shown that dance is one of the best ways to prevent dementia. The reason for this is that dance works many parts of the brain at the same time. This includes the parts of the brain that are not associated with automated processes – like the parts of the brain that you sue when riding a bike. If dance uses those parts of the brain that are not the automatic parts, then you need to keep up your practice. This was an observation made by James Joseph in his book “Every Man’s Survival Guide to Ballroom Dancing: Ace Your Wedding Dance and Keep Cool on a Cruise, at a Formal, and in Dance Classes” who put people who have had lessons a few years back into the category of people who can’t dance.
It would certainly seem that dance is not that much like a riding a bike.
For leads, figures can be forgotten. Follows are a little more fortunate if they focus on following such that they need not remember figures. However, the more subtle the figure the greater the chance that you will not recall all the figures you know.
You possibly will maintain your rhythm, and be able to step in time - for me this is kind of the case (I never had timing so I seem to lose that first). You might also recall how to learn dance so that you could get back into it faster. However, learning is one of those things that you lose if you do not use it. Therefore, if you stop dancing for a while, then you will likely find that you forget most of what you know. I have found that event focusing on one style (say swing) at the expanse of another (say street Latin) can result on the latter dance becoming poorer. Thus, I would have to say that you can;t hope that doing one dance will maintain your ability in another dance.
This is not such an issue; it simply means that you should keep dancing.
You need not keep taking lessons to maintain your dance. Once you get to a reasonably level (after about a year or so) you can simply dance socially on a regular basis (especially if you dance socially while learning) to maintain your skills. In fact, you will probably find that you will be able to simply watch others dance, reverse engineer their figures and then master them. That will definitely maintain your dance ability.
Don’t feel you need to keep taking lesson, but make sure you keep dancing. You can always go back to the lessons as you need to though.