Ballroom teachers needed - no experience required

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by pygmalion, Aug 6, 2004.

  1. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    My understanding of the practice is that the studios that use this business model as a rule have their lessons priced the same regardless of teacher's experience (but the split is different - experienced teacher gets a bigger portion of the check the customer is paying to the studio). That's why I said earlier on the thread, that this practice - hiring people off the street and letting them teach after a short training program - would be more acceptable (at least IMV) if the pricing was different depending on experience level. My gym has tiered pricing for personal training based on the trainer's experience, I've been to a salon which had tiered pricing depending on the employee's experience, so why can't studios which hire trainees do the same?
  2. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member



    If you add in up-front communication about a teacher's qualifications and experience, I'm your girl. Amen to that. :cool:
  3. foxtrot

    foxtrot New Member

    I thought the title of this thread was a joke when I first saw it! I'm from the UK and am not aware of that practice here, although I just might not have come across it.

    I think even if I were getting married and wanted to pay someone for my first dance lesson, I would still want someone who had a reasonable level of experience. If anything, for a one off event like that (well hopefully one-off!) I'd actually splash out and pay for the best.

    For me personally, I've had lessons from well qualified teachers (ISTD Licentiate) and reasonably successful ex-competitors and even then I've noticed a difference in that the ex competitors, although sometimes better at teaching presentational aspects, have sometimes been a bit inaccurate on matters of technique (at least if you go by the book). I'm currently deciding whether to stay with my current teacher, who is 100% reliable on technique, or move to another teacher, who is still a reasonably experienced dancer, more fun to dance with and with a good connection, but maybe not as reliable technically.

    The school I go to does have a two tier charging system (recently introduced) although the more expensive teacher isn't actually more qualified than all of the others (but owns the school and is a current professional competitor).
  4. nottomention

    nottomention New Member

    Because creating a realistic price-by-experience differential would mean one of two things:

    a) The master teacher's rate gets inflated above that of their one-person-business competition for the students they would really like to personally be teaching, and so they can't get much of that business

    or

    b) The trainee teacher's rates are so low that the studio can't recover their advertising and training expense and be left with enough profit to make the headache of keeping it running worthwhile.

    Instead, what typically happens is that a lesson with a trainee is priced comparable to one with a comprehensively experienced independent teacher, and the trainee is payed a small fraction of that amount. If either the owner or the employees want to have a role in the market for serious an ongoing training, they do it by quietly moonlighting as an independent teacher at local market rates for their actual skills.

    The presumption behind all of this is that ballroom dancing should be a for profit business. If instead, it is approached as a typical art form in which experienced individuals can sometimes make money but which looses money on the whole, then the expense of efficiently training future teachers in the art of dance itself is paid by those individuals (or their parents) for their own purposes. Their later earnings do not have to be balanced against the expected commercial value of their initial training investment (which is low given drop out rates), but instead need only to (barely) sustain the life of those who do go on to teach, only during the time when they are working as a teacher.
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I deliberately came up with a tongue-in-cheek title to encourage people to read and perhaps post here. :wink: :cool:


    Just wondering aloud if a high-level teacher is necessarily the best thing for a beginner. I would think that someone who is able to break dance concepts down into its basic component parts would be the best teacher. That's not necessarily the same thing as a high level competitor.

    I run into this in my non-dance life with my son all the time. I can do much higher-level math than he can. But I can't teach him arithmetic to save my life. I can't remember how to break it down.

    Just wondering aloud.
  6. nottomention

    nottomention New Member

    This is an interesting area. What I would observe is that those who have passed an ISTD exam have memorized discrete details of a set of possibly ideal methods, while those who compete have a practical feel for something that they have been able to make work for their body and their partner's.

    Unfortunately, neither by itself is enough. Knowing with precision where your feet must go does not mean they will get there by means which naturally imply their counterpart in your partner. Nor is managing to win a competition necessarily an accomplishment realized on top of details sound enough to warrant copying.

    What is really needed in a teacher is someone who has experience competing with something close to a theoretically sound and documented style of technique, such that their precision study cleans up their experience and their experience ties together the highly precise but not necessarily connected requirements of the exam into a comprehensive whole of partner dancing.
  7. nottomention

    nottomention New Member

    What I have experienced and seen of retired-world-champion type lessons is that most of the lesson, and especially the most effective part, ends up devoted to breaking down the simplest actions in extreme detail. Many of those concepts can be immediately turned around and successfully taught to bronze level students; others can be successfully communicated but may take a few years physical training to implement.
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    Yes. This makes sense to me. :)
  9. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    I didn't say the pricing had to be vastly different. It could just go $10 in each direction, and could be presented in such a way, that it is seen as a discount - and people love discounts. And even if top rate goes high it doesn't necessarily mean the person won't get booked. The price difference between the highest and the lowest tier in the gym is $30, and the tiers go in increments of $5. Yet it's the trainers in the top tier who often have a waiting list, and the ones in the bottom one are easily available.
  10. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I agree, T.

    And the bottom line, IMV, is that ballroom dance studios, in the US, are for-profit businesses (for the most part.) It costs what it costs to run a studio. At the end of the day, students pay the cost.

    In my mind, one of the basic questions here is whether the current price structure is fair to beginning students of beginning instructors. Leaving everything else out of the equation for a moment, I would vote no. I don't think it's right for a student to pay $100 an hour to take ballroom lessons from someone who's been dancing ballroom three months total when it would cost the same $100 a hour to take lessons from the senior instructor who's been dancing twenty years (as was the case at one of my former studios.)

    OTOH I don't begin to claim that I know how running a studio works, so I don't know what pricing structure might work better, be fair to all (whatever that means) and keep the studio doors open. (And oh btw rent out floor space to independents. :wink: :lol: )
  11. ash_sk8s

    ash_sk8s Member

    I'm just going to throw in my experience with figure skating here, since I am far more knowledgeable in that practice, and teach as well.

    - Skating coaches at many rinks are independent contractors. They set their own rates so usually the more experience or clout a coach has, the more they charge. Skaters pay their coach directly for the lesson. At these rinks, coaches usually pay "coaches fees" (think of renting the space) in order to teach there. Some rinks don't charge coaches fees. For the rinks where coaches are employees and skaters pay the rink instead of the coach for their lessons (thank god we don't do this anymore) the rink automatically takes a cut and then pays the coaches.
    - Something like "you don't need to have ever skated before, we'll train you how to teach!" would never happen.
    - A high level skater DOES NOT necessarily make a good coach! I was not a high level skater myself (high level to the general public, yes, but not in the skating world) and I happen to think I am a pretty skilled and competent instructor. I see many high level skaters start out by assisting group classes who have no clue how to break down what it is they know how to do and explain it to the beginning skater.
  12. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Moderator

    Skimming the heel of the front foot? :)
  13. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Moderator

    :wink:
  14. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Moderator

    I wouldn't consider that "competitive technique". It think I'd call it "competitive mindset". Or masochism. :razz:

    I'd think of this as being more along the lines of technique. Maybe it isn't exactly technique, but I guess one might say that it was technique that made possible what they did. (from Dancesport doesn't work as a sport)
    In my opinion, the technical approach to your injury scenario (assuming the next dance was waltz, since I'm clueless about latin) might be to:
    -when the standing leg is the injured one, try to rely more on leg division rather than foot usage
    -try to rely more on leg rise rather than foot rise
    -all the more, dance as efficiently as possible, conserving mechanical energy within the swing cycle so there is less physical exertion
  15. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Moderator

    I think it's pretty rare in my area for studios to train instructors with no dance experience. I'd guess partly because of the Ballroom Dance Teachers College. Even if trainees start the College with no dance experience, the main program is 16 months, so they leave with some experience.
  16. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Moderator

    I don't really understand why all the certifications I've heard of seem to be tied to syllabus levels - bronze, silver, gold.
  17. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Moderator

    Adding to what nottomention said, I think there are two different markets each with their own pricing: casual (not social! :evil:) and serious. The experienced teachers tend to serve the serious market while the trainees serve the casual market. I think a lot of customers are happy in their respective market. Unfortunately, there are serious beginners who end up in the casual market through ignorance, or worse, misrepresentation - someone tells them they're in the serious market.

    As I mentioned in this post, my First Teacher's (FT) rate was about 75% of my current teacher's. But FT was a staff instructor. Students paid the same rate for all staff lessons regardless of the teacher's experience. If I recall correctly, new instructors got about 10% of that fee. As a senior instructor, FT got about 25%. FT turned independent shortly after because at that point, FT was able to charge less than the studio rate *and* take home three times as much as before. No hard feelings from the studio. The studio understood that at a certain point, they could no longer afford to keep the instructors on staff. They gotta pay the rent! ;) (I knew of one studio that had rent of $25,000/month...)
  18. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Moderator

    I don't think anyone has said that a good dancer makes a good teacher. Rather, I think most people are saying that one requirement they would have of *their* dance teacher would be good/excellent dance skill, *among other requirements*. :)
  19. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Moderator

    I once tried to help some newbies with footwork. Since we were working on the lower body, I didn't pay any attention to my topline while I was demonstrating a drill. I turned to watch them and found that they were good at copying me. Too good. To the point of exactly mimicking my crooked neck, drooping left arm, the precise angle to which my right elbow was askew. Horrified, I apologized and demoed again, this time with more attention to topline. The experience was embarrassing. It was funny. And it was frightening - that it could be so easy to send newbies astray.
  20. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Both front and back.. as Scriv. used to say " the foot does not leave the floor independantly ".

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