Ballroom Dance > What Makes A Good Teacher?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by SDsalsaguy, Apr 10, 2003.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Check out this information on choosing a ballroom dance instructor -- from a downloadable brochure at (thanks smoothdancingirl! :D )

    You have to have adobe acrobat reader on your computer, to access the brochure in .pdf format. Great information for questions to ask a potential ballroom instructor. :D

    Oh yes. I should have mentioned that NDCA is a US-based organization. So if you're in the UK, Asia, etc. some things may not apply. I'm pretty sure ISTD has a similar information page on selecting an instructor.
  2. Leon Pieket

    Leon Pieket New Member

    What makes a good coach?
    Interesting question. I would say that he/she deffinately needs to be aware of all the techniques that excists, next to that he/she needs to be a good listener. A friendly person with loads of patience, the coach deffinately needs to do it for the fun of teaching somebody how to dance and deffinately not for the money. If they do it for the money the lesson will be lousy. The coach needs to have a creative fantasy and a huge imagination. A good coach should be interrested in their students 100 %.
    In my opinion it's better to have 2 couples rather then to have 25 couples. The coach could spend more time with them and give them all that is needed, 100 % involvement is a must. The coach should be a person that can be thrusted and thrust the couple. A good coach knows what is happening in the life of dancing, knows all the opponents and their skillz. A good coach prepares you mentally and fisically for the contest.
    A good coach gives you advice in cloathing, and all other in looks and presentation, he/she tells you all the inns and outs (to do and not to do's) in dancing. If he/she is really good your total life will be more worthy. ;)
  3. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hello Leon Pieket. Welcome to the forums. :D I'll be back later this evening, and post some well-thought-out responses to your posts.
  4. ShyDancer

    ShyDancer New Member

    "What makes a good teacher?" means different things to different people as I have seen through this entire thread :D

    To me a good teacher ..

    1. Knows what they are trying to teach you! :evil: :evil: I had one teacher teach me the wrong steps to a dance once, needless to say I never went back.

    2. Patience ,like many of you said is one of the most important aspects. I get nervous when I see a teacher getting huffy because I cant follow something straight after Ive been shown. Give you student a bit of time to let it sink in!

    3. They have to be encouraging.
    I dont know how many times I have been utterly frustrated and complained that "Im never going to get it" and my teacher, always with a smile on his face says "Sure you will, it just takes time, remember when you couldnt do -------- ?"
    He always tells me how well Im doing here or there.

    4. Has a positive attitude.
    Kind of ties in with patience. Instead of telling me that what Im doing is wrong, my teacher will say "Lets try that again" and he walks me through the steps. I know I have stuffed up but the way he puts it doesnt leave me feeling silly like many other teachers do.

    5. Give you things to work on at home.
    Not much point in them teaching you something if you are just going to go home and forget about it.
    I always get "Homework", he never forgets and makes me show him to prove Ive been practicing it :lol: :lol:

    6. Cares about you.
    Not romantically of course, maybe not even as a friend, but definatly cares about what you want to learn and care about how well you are learning it.
  5. Warren J. Dew

    Warren J. Dew Well-Known Member

    Was that based on finding such people, or not finding them?

    I have to admit, most of the time I've had (generally mutual) difficulty with coaches was when I expected them to justify what they were telling me with a "why", and they wanted me to just take their word for it 'cause they were the coach.
  6. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    I'd say both Warren...

    The distinction, once I made this connection, really seemed to jump out at me. If a coach is focussing on their own reputation, for instance, than they are not fully focussed on their students' dancing. Such coaches try and train you to be like them as a dancer rather than try and help you to discover and become yourself as a dancer. Ultimately this can't be in a student's best interest since they are thus being trained to be a coppy (no matter how good) vs. an original.

    Hmm, I'm not sure how you're using "coach" here Warren... as in a regular coach or as in a traveling/visiting coach? If a regular coach, than I have no idea what such a person could be thinking! Isn't the whole idea to help you understand not only "what" but also "how"?

    Beyond this, however, I think there is an important distinction to be made. Asking specific, targeted questions to deepen one's own understanding is one thing, but challenging every comment the coach makes is something else entirely. And I've seen both. If you aren't going to trust that the coach knows what they're talking about, why are you even taking a lesson with them? Same for a visiting coach too...

    Now I seriously doubt that you're the "challenge every word out of the coache's mouth" type, so your dificulties make sense to me... and, again, I think it goes back to those coaches who can focus entirely on you, the student, vs. the ones who still have an ego investment in their own stature.

    [I hope this makes some sense but I'm rather fuzzy brained at the moment so not sure if I am being at all clear let alone articulate... :oops:]
  7. Svet T.

    Svet T. New Member

    Aside from the ones previously posted qualities, i like a coach who is not afraid to push their dancers to reach their maximum potentials. There are alot out there whoa are contended with being "ok". For people like me who likes challenges, it is nice to have someone who believes that we can be better or be the best.

    IMO only btw. :)
  8. love2swing

    love2swing New Member

    Welcome to the forums Svet T. I agree-- it is good to have someone who will push you.
  9. balletblueyes

    balletblueyes New Member

    I would have to say that this is a GREAT question...because I have had some instrustors who have been wonderful and some that have been really bad!!
    I'll start off with the bad ones and leave the best for last :D ...some of the worst dance teachers that I have had always seemed to me that they were either teaching just because it was their job and that is the only reason, like there was no excitment or passion in how they taught. Also, some have seemed like they choose favorite dancers and that is VERY disscouraging to all of the dancers who are not the "favorites"!
    Now, for the great ones!! My greatest ballet teacher was from Russia and was wonderful!! She had such a passion and true love for ballet it was amazing!! She was strong and an amazing dancer! She was SO strict and pushed me and the other students to do our best and then some! She is a woman that I have admired for a very long time and even though I had to move and do not see her anymore I don't think I will ever forget her!!
    That is how much of an impact a really good instructor can have on someone!
  10. Another Elizabeth

    Another Elizabeth Active Member

    I think the best teachers push you very hard, but also express confidence that you will be able to do what they are asking you to do. They appreciate and reward hard work, but don't let you "rest on your laurels," even when you've been working really hard.

    Sometimes two pretty good teachers add up to one great teacher, too. Whenever Alan & Donna Shingler are in town, I try to get lessons with both of them, with Alan first. He's wonderful at explaining technique in a way that gives you something to think about for months after the lesson, and Donna is wonderful at being a "cheerleader" for your dancing, so you believe that it's worth all the hard work that Alan prescribed. Not that Alan isn't encouraging or that Donna doesn't give you technique to work on, but each one has a real strength, and the combination always lifts my dancing for a long time after I see them.
  11. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    I honestly think that hardest work dancers have to do is to make sure that the habits we reinforce with practice are good ones, rather than ones that will soon become limiting. Certainly, excellence in dancing requires hard work - but dancing "smart" is as important as dancing "hard". When I dance a competition I may be working hard, but if I've been carefull in practice then I should be able to trust my basic dancing around the floor reflexes just as I trust my walking down the street reflexes.

    With this concern in mind, since there are a variety of sometimes conflicting ideas out there, and many shades of variation within the major camps, I'm also one who wants a coach who can back up their method with as explanation of why it is prefereable to the others, or at the very least provide enough information to satisfy concerns I may have about potential problems or challenges involved in doing something a certain way. Sometimes though, the supporting information has to come from a teacher other than the one who first raised the idea. Also, I've found that even if I reject an idea, there's a lot to be learned from later thinking it through to figure out exactly why it wouldn't work... also, it's good to keep the alternatives in the back of the mind in case one of the basic assumptions later proves mistaken ;-)
  12. motardmom

    motardmom New Member

    Kind of along these same lines:

    - Being able to walk the fine line between pushing/encouraging a student to learn and stepping back and letting the student absorb the new information.

    I also think it is notable that there isn't going to be one teacher/technique for everyone. I think it is good when both the teacher and student can recognize when a teacher/student partnership isn't going to work and they can be adults and progress apart from that.
  13. chachachacat

    chachachacat Well-Known Member

    If I stopped my sight
    at point that is as far my students could see,
    we'd never start.
    I always see them as better dancers,
    and carve it out like clay,
    pushing, shaping and forming
    to create the best dancer I can
    help to make.
  14. LaLoona

    LaLoona Member

    For me it is a teacher that makes me understand why a move/step it is done this way and not another.

    I had teachers that would show a move and say: this is the way it is, that's what we do. Learning based on imitation primarily. However, what you see and what you do is not always the same thing.

    I met a new teacher and her lessons totally worth 7hr of driving. With her I am learning that dancing is very logical, structural and can be explained in terms of physics and anatomy. She brings both aspects in - Art and Science. This approach totally bought my scientifically trained mind. I never doubt her word since she always bases her explanation on physical laws and understanding of human body. I am learning to use muscles I did not know I had. And oh God I can see the improvements!
    It is amazing to understand and feel how you prepare a move, get necessary muscles in proper alignments; how energy goes from one muscle to another during the move and where the energy goes afterwards...I had no clue for years!
  15. cl5814

    cl5814 New Member

    I have had success with an instructor as well. I was worried that we didn't cover enough material in every lesson so as to make it through 4 or 5 routines in given time. Her answer was just "when you understand how i think and do, you will learn faster cause you will think the way i think". We go into some stuff in excruciating details. Yet, i find it amazing too, there is explanations for all the "weird" stuff we do. I am already seeing benefits from it. I remember details a lot easier cause i understand why i am doing it or why it works that way. Like a DFer said, it isn't just "let me show you and then you do it" instruction.
  16. cl5814

    cl5814 New Member

    Wow, quite a commitment to make.
  17. saludas

    saludas New Member

    Good for you, and good to see that 'driving time' is not an issue with your search for quality. Chain studios prey on the neophyte's need for 'convenience'. Just like ebay and online dating have shown, the best is usually not 'at your doorstep', but can be hours (or days) away.

    Our coaches have us commuting daily for hours; the advances and quality are SO worth it we never at all entertained the idea of searching for instruction based upon locale. Believe me, it's worth it...
  18. mamboqueen

    mamboqueen Well-Known Member

    This sounds great. I am not really a science minded person (well, I should say I wasn't as I was growing up). I really want to understand the body mechanics and physics that create the movement. In the beginning, it didn't really sound like it made sense to me because of my preconceived notion that dance is just "art"....not to mention that these are concepts really not taught at beginning least where I was getting my training. I am hoping my teacher gets in a particular coach who is really good with body mechanics -- and I have taken a few lessons (for which I traveled 4 hours!) with someone who is adept with body movement and the muscles that control the movements. I really wish there were group classes that dealt with just this (and exercises to practice the movements).

    What part of the country are you in?
  19. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I agree .... my pro is leaving our studio and it is going to be a major pain to travel to dance (2 hours each way, @ 4 days a week)...and I dance @8 hours a week not even counting practice and groups and all, but there is just no way I'm going to trade in quality for convenience....
  20. cl5814

    cl5814 New Member

    equally big commitment to make. Wow, impressive.

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