Ballroom Dance > Teaching Ballroom on a Cruise Ship?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by ladyinred, Mar 14, 2006.

  1. ladyinred

    ladyinred New Member

    Hey All!

    My friend and I were talking about the possibility of teaching ballroom dance on a cruise ship (we've both been dabbling in teaching for a while now). Does anyone know where I would find out more information about this, what cruise lines hire ballroom teachers, etc?


  2. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    i know that holland america zuiderdam hosts a one week dance camp cruise...sadly it seems that ballroom dancing on cruise ships is getting less frequent rather than more frequent....we used to have opportunities at the capatain's dinners...but last time there was none...'tho one could get swing salsa hip hop and c/w lessons...dosnt work so much for the waltzer and foxtrotter...major bummer
  3. arianiah

    arianiah New Member

    Google different cruise companies such as Carnival and contact them via e-mail about their entertainment. Most have a contact e-mail and will get back to you with their information.
  4. caityrosey

    caityrosey New Member

    Oh that's a shame!
  5. saludas

    saludas New Member

    Cruise ships are looking desperately for people to teach. The big name in this is Sixth Star Entertainment. You can't do this directly to the cruise line - they use companies like Sixth Star as agents.

    Usually, the company requires some minimal charge for you ($25 a day for instance) so that they coven some costs. Otherwise, you are a passenger and get to get all the things the passengers get.

    They'll put you on a ship tomorrow, if you want it. Problem is, it's usually for men only, and the duties also include the 'senior shuffle' before the evening's show, etc.
  6. alemana

    alemana New Member

    so you pay for the privilege of teaching on a cruise ship?
  7. saludas

    saludas New Member

    The $$s are a fee to the agent - which is standard in the entertainment business... the trip is free but you pay the agent a fee. if you were doing a guest spot on a tv show, for instance, your agent would get ten percent of your fees, so if you made $3000 for the guest spot your agent would make $300 off the top. If you did a movie, and you got paid a million $$s, your agent would make $100,000.

    Since a cruise is usually about $1200 - 2000 per week, then $150 per week for the agent is fair and reasonable.

    Since no money changes hands between the cruise line and you, then you pay the agent's fee - just like you do when you sell a house, for instance.
  8. alemana

    alemana New Member

    so you are paid 'in kind' (being on the ship) but have to pay the agent in cash (to put it bluntly.) i'm not asking for a contextual analysis, just the facts.
  9. saludas

    saludas New Member

    I guess so - but the fact is, you do not 'pay' for the privelige... you pay an agent who secures the job for you.

    And, it's to your advantage as you do not have to pay taxes on the cruise freebie, and you can also deduct the fee.
  10. mr bixx

    mr bixx Member

    to bad i'm about 20 years to young lol. this would be ideal for me, since i am the nomad of dancing.
  11. mummsie

    mummsie Member

    It depends on the ship. Princess lines seem to have ballroom teachers on all their ships. P&O don't. The cabaret dancers doubled as the dance teachers on their ship last time we went in January. It seems to be a fairly good life to be a dance teacher on a ship. You only teach on sea days and its for 1 class a day - basic cha cha, swing, waltz, foxtrot. I guess whatever you want. The teachers also have to turn up at a few of the dance floors and do some socialising. Rest of the time is your own. Mummsie aka cruise fanatic. :)
  12. Rugby

    Rugby Member

    My friend finds teachers and hosts for some of the cruise lines but they are only looking for single males at this time as the passengers they are catering to are older single ladies. I would love to do the cruise thing myself but I guess I will have to wait until they are looking for ladies or couples.
  13. Sounds interesting. I need to get back into ballroom lessons and learn to teach. I'm hoping to retire in 10 yrs and find a new career.
  14. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    I know a man, retired, probably in his sixties, who does the "gentleman host" thing on cruise ships and he loves it! I'd call him an intermediate social dancer and he seems to do fine with the ladies on the ships. He's been all over and pretty much gets to pick and choose which cruises he wants to do.
  15. suburbaknght

    suburbaknght Well-Known Member

    Resurrecting this old thread rather than start a new one. While I'm not responding to the OP, perhaps this will save future discussions from having to search through the archives.

    Wyndstormhuntress and I just got back a few days ago from a week of teaching on a cruise ship. It was a wonderful experience that I would encourage others to look into.

    We'd been looking into doing a trip like this for close to three years and it finally came together. We were booked through To Sea With Z, which charges a $30/day per person administrative fee (for point of comparison, the cruise would have cost about $100/day per person if booked through the cruise line). For our fee we got our basic passage on the cruise* arranged completely through To Sea With Z (Communication was excellent. They answered all of our questions via e-mail, usually within 5 minutes during business hours or the start of business next day if sent after hours), had an on-call agent to handle any problems that might have developed (none did), and extremely useful advice about how to plan classes, pack for the trip, etc.

    As it's not directly relevant, I'm going to just say that the cruise itself was wonderful. I cannot say enough good things about Royal Caribbean. If you're looking to do a cruise, either as a full-paying passenger or instructor you would be hard-pressed to do better. We had an unqualified good time as passengers and I heartily recommend them to everyone.

    On board we reported to the Activities Director (who in turn reports to the Cruise Director). She was extremely competent and helpful. We were allowed a great deal of latitude in planning our classes, deciding what to teach, etc. We were given a tour of the areas we'd be teaching and shown the audio equipment and then introduced to a member of the technical staff who would arrive early before each class to prepare sound equipment. Our technical staffer was very helpful and, because we were asked not to fill out comment cards, which are reserved for regular passengers, I sent a letter to the Director praising the staffer's work. We never had any technical problems and felt supported our entire time aboard.

    The one issue that surprised me was we were booked for two classes during the at-sea days rather than the one class per day that had been indicated. Given that I love teaching enough that I have volunteered to teach on every vacation I've been on for the past four years, and we wanted the passengers as excited about dancing as we were, we did not see this as a problem and decided not to mention it to the Director (why make waves about something that's not a problem?). Later in the cruise, we even volunteered to take on an extra class, though unfortunately it could not be fit into the schedule.

    We taught all dances in American social style with a particular emphasis on social dancing and adjustments due to the small size of most dance floors on the ship (I was amazed at how small most of them were, despite having been warned). The overwhelming majority of students we had were completely new dancers who had no dance experience whatsoever. The typical student in our class seemed to be a middle-aged to somewhat elderly passenger, either single or with a partner, who saw that the day's offerings included dance lessons and said, "Oh, I always wanted to try ballroom dancing!" That said, we did have many couples and even a few singles in their 20's and 30's, and even a half-dozen teenagers.

    We taught the classes accordingly for these new dancers, breaking everything down into its most basic components and teaching only introductory patterns; i.e. our waltz lesson was basic box (straight and turning left), progressive change step, and box with slow underarm turn. I often kept dances at even simpler levels than the "right" way to do them (i.e. teaching hustle in 4-count "straight" timing rather than 3-count syncopated) to make them accessible, though I always warned students when I made a change and explained why. In this way we were able to get everyone up and dancing with each dance so that they could enjoy the feeling of dancing it, while also hopefully inspiring them to learn the right way when they went home.

    We did have a few dancers with a bit more experience (roughly early-to-mid-bronze). We had been directed to teach the classes for all levels, so while we stuck to basic patterns I would often say something such as, "Now if this is your first time dancing keep working on X; all I care about is that you do X and keep it going. If, however, you've done [this dance] before, try doing Y [three minute technique lesson applied to the basic pattern]."

    Feedback from the classes was very positive from both the new dancers and the experienced dancers, so I believe this was a good mix. Our return participation rate was very high; our morning class continued to get the same 15-20 people, almost all of whom also attended the afternoon class which usually got the same 35-50 people.

    The most unusual part of teaching was that our classes were frequently considered entertainment by passengers not taking part. Our very first class was held in the 5 story atrium, which resulted in about a hundred-fifty people standing around the dance floor or watching from four decks of balconies for the entire one-hour lesson. Future lessons usually had anywhere from 20-50 observers. Consequently, I was in edutainment mode as much as education mode; I used a great deal of humor in my demonstrations and explanations and spent more time discussing the history of each dance than I normally do. That first few lessons I made sure to break everything down to its constituent parts in order to show how accessible the classes were and hopefully entice the audience to try it (more than quite a few did).

    In addition to teaching the steps we spent a great deal of time in the classes focusing on floorcraft, including both navigation and awareness. Because the students changed from class to class, beyond that core group, we continued to teach from that complete beginner perspective, though by the end of the cruise we were able to take on some more challenging dances. Our lesson schedule was thus, broken down by days in which we taught:

    Merengue (basic movement + right underarm turn variations)
    Merengue (basic movement + left underarm turn variations)

    Rumba (box straight and turning, slow underarm turn, 5th position breaks)
    Waltz (box straight and turning, slow underarm turn, progressive change step)

    Tango (progress basic straight and curving, corte, continuous corte with leg flick*)
    Foxtrot (progressive basic, left rock turn, sway step)

    Hustle (4/4 straight timing. Hesitation, wheel, lady's underarm turn, man's back-hand change)
    West coast (right underarm turn, left side pass, sugar push)

    The cruise line had asked us not to teach swing (east coast) or salsa, as the ship's staff taught these dances as part of theme nights. Wynd and I both attended the salsa lesson to partner women who needed leaders (their were quite a few, though our classes were almost always perfectly even. This was fortunate as students were universally against rotating partners). While I'd originally planned on covering cha cha and nightclub two-step, we changed to hustle and west coast after requests from some of the students.

    We almost always attended the evening's dances, both because we love dancing and in order to promote our classes. As stated, the dance floors were small and, usually stone, and rolling of the ship tended to impede technique such as rise and fall, so our dancing was quite limited and our technique much more constrained than we normally do. That said we enjoyed ourselves a great deal and made friends with many of the other experienced dancers on board. While I did dance with a few of the students a couple times, most people only danced with their partner.

    Given how visible the classes were, Wynd and I became ship-wide celebrities after the first day at sea. Nearly everyone had seen the classes or seen us dancing at night, and it was rare for us to go anywhere without someone coming up to us to offer compliments. Ocassionally we were asked for advice, though it was usually, "I'm not a good dancer. Would it be alright if I came to your class?" rather than "How do I do step X?"

    Usually we would prepare class the day before, early in the morning in the ship's largest lounge (which had the only wooden dance floor on board) before that day's events started. Wynd and I would start with my normall introductory lesson plan for a dance, then disucss how to modify it for the ship's passengers, then we would both dance through everything several times as both leader and follower. These sessions usually took about 30-45 minutes to create the two lesson plans we needed for the day and, I must say, made the teaching experience much smoother than it would have been otherwise: Wynd and I study at different studios and I'm not used to teaching with an assistant - these sessions meant that not only were Wynd and I on the same page about what we were teaching, but I was able to utilize her much more effectively than I would have otherwise. I must credit a great deal of how well the classes went to the preparation we put into them.

    Overall, this was an amazingly positive experience that I would heartily recommend. If you're interested, you can apply online with To Sea With Z or with Sixth Star (links at the top of this post and the bottom of page 1 of this thread respectively). If you have not taught before, I recommend at least a dozen private lessons to prepare you to teach and have another instructor help you create your lesson plans, then find ways to practice teaching before your trip.

    Wynd and I enjoyed ourselves a great deal and we're already booked for our next trip over the winter holidays.

    * This included all standard services and fare: room, meals at non-specialty restaurants on board, fuel and port fees, shows, etc. Basically anything a passenger received without paying extra for, so did we. We did have to pay for parking at the cruise terminal, alcohol, laundry services, excursions, and gratuities. This came to roughly $700 combined between the two of us for a 9 day cruise, though your mileage may vary depending on the extras you want in your trip. It is also expected that because instructors are not paying full fare, they will defer to passengers when taking seats at bars or shows, or when waiting in queue for restaurants, getting off the ship, etc. This rarely arose and we never felt we weren't getting as good an experience as the regular passengers.

    ** One of the students requested leg flicks mid-lesson. While I normally would not teach them to beginners, continuous corte (back, replace, back, replace, tango-close, timing as SSSSQQS) seemed as an easy rocking step that would allow us to give a fun trick for the experienced dancers. It met with mixed success and I am undecided if I would do it again.
    Hedwaite likes this.
  16. latingal

    latingal Well-Known Member

    nice read out on your experience sk!! sounds like it turned out great!
  17. nucat78

    nucat78 Active Member

    Very informative! Two questions:

    Were you required to audition in any way or did they take your word for your skill level, etc?

    (General) Anybody know anything about Princess cruises? DP and I booked a dance cruise for next year on one of their ships.
  18. suburbaknght

    suburbaknght Well-Known Member

    I sent my dance resume and certification records, after which we were asked to submit a video from a competition or performance.
  19. ash_sk8s

    ash_sk8s Member

    Sounds like so much fun! Thanks for sharing!
  20. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    +1... :cheers:

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