Tips for Choosing a Dance Instructor
During the first weeks of the year ballroom studios traditionally attract a new group of beginning students. Congratulations on those New Year's resolutions!
Some of these new dancers will take private lessons to ensure a faster learning curve or to feel more comfortable during group classes or dance parties. If you're a beginner who is thinking about one-on-one instruction, you may be wondering how to find the best instructor. Here are several suggestions:
1. Ask for recommendations
Friends or co-workers who are ballroom dancers may be happy to recommend studios or instructors. If your close contacts are not dancers, they might have connections with people who are. Ballroom dancing has become so popular that reliable sources of information are often easy to find.
2. Research your options
Use the Internet and social media, like Facebook, to expand your search for recommendations. Satisfied ballroom dancers are eager to recommend teachers or studios. Studio websites and online newsletters often contain instructor profiles. In addition, many teachers – both studio staff instructors and independents – maintain their own sites or Facebook pages.
3. Attend a 'beginners' night
Look for dance venues or studios that offer "beginners' nights" or "guest nights" with a nominal admission cost. This is a great way to obtain an overview of teaching talent, since instructors are usually present on these nights, dancing with their students and newcomers.
4. Watch instructors dance
By observing how teachers dance – at studio dances, showcases, or special performances – you will pick up clues about their teaching styles. Certain techniques may be more appealing to you than others. You'll notice professionals who are precise and dramatic, while others appear equally proficient, yet more relaxed and conservative in their moves.
5. Try a test lesson
Studios, as well as independent teachers, frequently offer a free introductory private lesson. This is a chance to test how you feel about coaching with at least one private instructor.
6. Consider different teaching styles
If your first "test drive" does not feel right, consider trying other instructors. Talking to a studio manager about your preference for an instructor's approach can save time and money. Explain what kind of advice has been helpful in the past when trying to master a new skill or sport. Although one or two hours with other teaching styles may not be free of charge, the experience will offer a comparison, and it can prevent investing in lessons with someone who doesn't meet your needs.
7. Find a "connection"
A good professional reputation and solid training are essential for qualified instructors. But regardless of awards or certifications, you need to feel a positive connection – a fit with your personality. Working with an instructor involves common expectations and goals, clear verbal communication, and close physical interaction. The chemistry must work for both of you.
8. Stay within a commute comfort zone
Select an instructor with access to a studio floor that is reasonably close to your home or workplace. If attending lessons becomes inconvenient due to a lengthy commute, you may find yourself repeatedly arriving late or halting instruction entirely.
You and your instructor need to be on time for lessons, relaxed, and ready to go!
© 2012, Cheryl Burke Dance, LLC. All rights reserved.