Follow My Lead: Traits of Great Ballroom Dance Instructors
All that glitters… is not necessarily gold.
You see the hot new dance sensation parade into town. Onstage, they dazzle in flashy costumes, but their workshop the next day leaves you wanting.
Lesson learned: A great performance does not always translate into great instruction.
So what does make for a good dance teacher? What qualities should we look for? Remember, you are interviewing them, not the other way around. In a sense, your teacher works for you. They are passing along information, skills and wisdom from the age old art of dance.
From casual social dancer to competition level, there are several traits you really want to see in a dance teacher. The first is an extremely high degree of knowledge of the field. Don't be shy to ask a lot of questions! You will get a good sense of the instructor's education base, philosophy, and level of expertise. Inquire about their own training and performance background. How long have they been dancing and teaching? Where have they taught previously?
Another valuable trait is a strong aptitude for verbal and physical articulation. Your instructor should be no less than stellar at explanations of positions, moves and combinations. They should be able to demonstrate all parts of a dance, and communicate clearly the function each step serves.
It's a good sign if the teacher makes use of an assistant or student demonstrator who can explain both follows and leads. This is particularly helpful in very large classes or workshops, when the instructor is not always able to make the rounds for the whole group. It's also an indication that the teacher has a great track record with other students and social relationships in general.
You certainly want an instructor who is friendly, inclusive and respectful of all students. Feel the energy of the group. Are people having fun and growing as dancers? Or do they seem intimidated and uncomfortable? The energy a teacher brings to you will be obvious. No need to waste time with negativity. Dance is for everyone.
It patience is a virtue, it is particularly true for teachers of dance. Learning to dance, especially with a partner, is a worthy endeavor. However, even highly skilled competitors need time to absorb new material and to practice. Practice makes perfect, and you want an instructor who will give you space to make mistakes - which we all do.
The ability to laugh (even at yourself!) is priceless in dance, particularly as it can often be vulnerable and challenging. An instructor who brings a little levity to the floor will also lighten the atmosphere for the students, thus creating a better learning environment.
Many dancers, at a certain point in their evolution, find that they want to perform or compete on some level. Your dance instructor should be supportive of that also. Generally speaking, there are opportunities for performance in many capacities, from a simple student showcase to Dancing with the Stars. The person should also support you if you don't have interest in public displays. In essence, you want a guide and mentor you can trust.
For more about the world of ballroom dance, please contact us today!