Ballroom teachers needed - no experience required

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

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your candor, mop6686. It takes guts to be that honest.

    To your point #3 on the bad side, I remember having been paired with three different new-to-ballroom teachers who were newly out of training when I'd been dancing ballroom a couple years. If I'd been strictly ballroom, I'd have found them completely useless. But, since I am a dance generalist, I worked with them in their pre-ballroom disciplines -- the C&W dancer on two-step, line dance, etc, the ballerina on arm-styling and the modern dude on hip hop. It worked.

    If my goal had been advancing through ballroom levels, I'd have been upset, to say the least. That wasn't my goal, so things worked out. I was aware the whole time that the teachers in question were no more comfortable with the situation than I was.

    Eh. *shrug*
  2. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    Nice resurrection. Several years ago, I had a package of lessons with a studio, which had high staff turnover and they attempted to assign me to one of those brand-new guys after two more experienced teachers disappeared - first it was the one I was originally taking lessons with, then the one I picked as his substitution to finish off the package. The proposed replacement had something like 2 months of experience and I've been doing group classes and private lessons for 3 years or so and have already done my first pro-am competition. I used that as an argument that they can't provide adequate instruction and demanded (and got) a refund for the remainder of the package.
  3. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    I have to disagree here, because of the following:

    That's exactly what I went through, although fortunately not for years. When I started partner dance lessons, I figured I didn't need to learn from a top teacher or champion dancer type. Boy was I wrong! I wasted so much time and money learning poor technique. The inadequacies quickly became apparent when I was social dancing with good, well-trained dancers.

    As soon as I started taking lessons with top-level teachers, the difference was amazing. In a certain way, it's maybe more important to have a great teacher when you're a beginner. It means you will start out with the right foundation of technique. Also, that kind of teacher will have the skill and experience to identify and correct your mistakes really quickly.

    Essentially, when you have a top teacher, you will learn, improve and become competent in a shorter period of time, and with less frustration. That said, there are a few people who can become top teachers quickly, if they are starting out with the right background, training and talent.

    Keep in mind, I don't have a regular partner or significant other to dance with, and I don't compete. My goal is to be an excellent social dancer who can go to any venue and dance well with anyone who asks me. Everyone's needs are different, but for me, I've found it well worth the small extra cost and travel time to learn from the best.
  4. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    Every new teacher needs a way to gain experience to become a great teacher. Students need to allow for this in the overall educational process. That's true in every field.
  5. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    The question is - who really wants to be a guinea pig.

    Also, just my personal view - a teacher has to be considerably ahead of his or her students. When the gap closes too much, it's not the optimal situation.
  6. nottomention

    nottomention New Member

    This is the false assumption at the core of a studio business plan.

    Most truly skilled dance teachers learned to dance themselves first. They began teaching only when they had years of personal experience, implicitly including some time to time playing teacher-like roles within their own circles. The largest source today would be youth competitive programs, especially in eastern europe.

    The problem with trying to train people off the street to be teachers is twofold: they don't have time for the years of personal experience needed to build real expertise, and you typically ask them to deal with far more variety of material than the future teachers learning to dance for themselves would be starting with in a (youth) competitive program.

    The end result is that you have staff who know a lot of steps, but have relatively little understanding of dancing. And that's after they've gained their experience at the expense of unlucky students.
  7. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    Sometimes this is true. :cool: In the time that I spent at a studio with such a program, the only people who made it through the program were people with years of experience in non-ballroom dance disciplines. And that's only one data point of many. Eh.
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    Yes. This is what I said just above. I think that the newbie teacher model can work if there's a large enough gap between teacher and student ability levels. :)
  9. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    precisely... and there comes a point in time when the gap closes too much and things can get very very tense
  10. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    If inexperienced teachers never get the chance to teach, we'll run out of experienced teachers.

    That just stands to reason -- in every field.

    There are whole other sets of issues regarding who pays for what, who needs who for a teacher, how teachers are supervised, etc. But, it's unreasonable to suggest that every student at every level should always learn exclusively from already-experienced teachers. Something has to give somewhere, to allow for the inexperienced to become experienced.
  11. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    BTDT and found ways around it. But yes.

    I'll quote a visiting coach who gave me and one of my teachers a great session several years ago. He said to my teacher in an undertone, "The student should never advance beyond the teacher." That's exactly what he said. I assume he didn't realize that I heard him. *shrug*
  12. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    In a former life; I knew at a certain point, when coachings began to be equally about him, that we were at that point...and that was a choice I made because it wasn't all about ambition and goals and success at that time...it was about shared accomplishments and friendship...or I thought it was....and that is fine...IF the student is going in eyes wide open.....now I have a completely different scenario...I understand that all of us, even my pro who is light years ahead of me, are not impervious to correction or improvement...but I am now in a space where it is no longer my goal to make a journey with someone with whom I have come alongside...but it will always be my goal to lessen the gap or at least make it not look immense
  13. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    I guess we could make a different point here...there are "inexperienced teachers" with no experience teaching, and "inexperienced teachers" with little or no knowledge of the field.
  14. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    That's a very fair point.
  15. nottomention

    nottomention New Member

    An experienced dancer will have accumulated lots of incidental practice in the teaching of dance years before anyone books them for a lesson.

    They will still have things to learn about communication, but there's a huge difference between learning to teach something you know, and teaching something that is still new and not fully internalized.

    Consider also the quality of demonstrations!
  16. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    True, but I've encountered a few accomplished dancers who were not only inexperienced but incapable teachers.
  17. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Moderator

    I once saw a Blackpool Professional quarterfinalist giving a lesson to a newbie. I have no idea how it came about and can only guess that he had an experienced friend who advised him or made arrangements. Lucky guy! The instructor first taught him the waltz box, then went on into usage of the standing leg. I stopped watching after that. That may be the most important lesson that guy ever has in his dancing life. He has a good foundation that will pay dividends for years to come. I wish my first lesson had been like that. It would have saved me a lot of time and effort. :)
  18. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Moderator

    :applause:
  19. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Moderator

    I think one will find inexperienced/incapable teachers at all dance ability levels.

    I would choose a teacher with a lot of dance experience and little teaching experience over a teacher with little dance experience and a lot of teaching experience (in another field). You can teach a particular technique even if you can't do it - for example, older dance pros whose bodies can't move quite the way they used to. But I don't think you can teach that particular technique if you don't know it at all. :)
  20. rbazsz

    rbazsz New Member

    I have no problem with the practice because it's up to the real instructors to determine if someone is qualified to teach a newbie class. Assuming a person has trust in the studio then they should trust the dance director's judgment on who should be teaching. If the dance teachers are lousy then it's time to leave the studio because there are probably other problems besides faulty judgment on who should teach.

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