Teacher Appeal

getting information is not the same thing as getting taught. You might think differently about all this in a few years when you realize that quality does come at a price...
Yes and no. A large part of improvement I arrive at personally comes from taking a small amount of information given to me by a coach and applying it across the whole of my dancing, seeing how a principle I learned in one dance can be applied in all of them. So as a result, a little bit of information is a *huge* teaching moment for me.

Quality is much harder to pin down than prestige or cachet. I would argue that these come at a price and are probably well correlated for a given geographic region. Case in point: the worst prospective teacher by my estimation charged double what the others I tried charged. The difference wasn't her teaching skill, it was her status as a former national finalist, while the other coaches in the area are still making their names in the Rising Star category.


Well-Known Member
Another factor I should have mentioned is the teacher's willingness to continue his or her own study of dance/movement.

I just recalled several years ago talking with a new student and her newish teacher who were horrified when I mentioned to them that my Pro and his partner were away for several days taking some coaching lessons. They asked me why on earth I'd take lessons with someone who hadn't "finished learning everything" yet and was still taking lessons himself. The newish teacher informed me that he was now a professional teacher and had completed ALL of his dance courses. (He's long gone, by the way.)

Dr Dance

Well-Known Member
So what makes you want to work with a certain teacher?

Is it their credentials, popularity, personality, success of their students, communication, height, or some combination of these?
Everything that you mentioned is important at least to some degree. It depends on what you want to get out of your lessons that often determines which qualities are prioritized higher than others.

When I am considering taking from a teacher, credentials and other student success are very important. I would be MUCH less likely to take lessons from a teacher whose regular students have not improved over time, especially if they have been taking private lessons from this prospect for YEARS. If the prospect is a master of their field, I would be more inclined to try private lessons.

Once I start lessons with the prospect, communication and personality become very important. Can the prospect teach me successfully? Can technique be explained in terms that I understand? Is the prospect vested in me improving? Does the prospect love to teach, or is (s)he just in it for the money? Is the method of teaching very goal oriented with concrete evidence of my improvement over time? Does the prospect demonstrate "good character?" (Honesty, consideration, honed social skills, sensitivity, and respect.) How well can the prospect help to "bring out the best" in my dancing?

Popularity is a low priority for me. There are some real "diamonds in the rough" out there who are anxious and ready to teach me! And there are teachers who are popular who may not suit my needs in other ways.

Teaching style is important to me. My all time favorite instructor EVER (Ron Bennett) teaches his group classes in a very collegiate fashion with frequent (verbal) "pop quizzes" and questions for his students to test knowledge. This may not appeal to everyone, but this style is right in my wheel house!! It's no surprise that he teaches this way since there are four major universities within several miles from the studio where he teaches.

Willingness to keep learning is important for a prospect. Are they, themselves furthering their own dance education, or are they resting on their laurels?

MONEY (teacher cost) is important to me too since I am retired with a limited income.
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Well-Known Member
So what makes you want to work with a certain teacher?
I would guess it depends on each persons personal goals for his/her dancing, but for me it would be - His/her superior ability to guide me in becoming the best dancer I can be, in a way that is comfortable and enjoyable for me.

The limiting factors to that would be;
  • location
  • current dance skills (since I do pro-am the pro must dance in the partnership)
  • cost

And a note about observing other students of the pro as a gauge, it can work. But I am always cautious in remembering that even if a pro is superior in every way, if the students are not doing their part in practicing and exploring what is taught, the teacher's actual skill level may not be evident.


Well-Known Member
their student's results are not as important as their student's improvements, and they matter only if they are similar to your age/style/effort. A great student result is not applicable if you are taking the one lesson a week path and they are there 3x a week.


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Staff member
for me, I just take care to make sure I look at more than a few dancers over time...because anyone can have one or two "fail to thrive" students...but if I see that a guy has a bunch of ladies that aren't good and/or don't improve, then he is going to be of no interest...because as LG notes, good guys can have ladies who aren't good because they really didn't want to do the work(maybe they thought just having the good dude was all they needed to do or they might have some limmitations), but if he can't get anybody to improve, then he either doesn't know how to explain himself or doesn't care to exert himself....
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Well-Known Member
As an engineer by training, I sympathize wholeheartedly with this. I knew one prospective coach wasn't for me when she told me I didn't need to activate any muscles to move my hip to a spot, I just needed to move my hip forward (in Latin).
Same here, and yeah, I'd probably say "huh?" to that too.


Well-Known Member
Initially: Decided to check out the dance studio that happened to be next door to the gym where I worked out. I thought it might be a fun couples thing to do. Took whatever teacher we were given. No sense at that time that I/we wanted to compete; it was just a social thing. Later, started competing as a couple...but the studio we were taking at is primarily a social studio that dabbles in competition.

I always said I had no interest in doing pro-am...well, unless I could dance with someone like my current teacher, who was at the time an amateur competitor, "But that will NEVER happen, or not for a lot of years." And then he turned pro at pretty young age, and the opportunity did actually present itself. 3 months after he turned pro, I was taking lessons with him. We had already started chatting on D-F long before that, so I was pretty sure we would get along, but I was still nervous: what if he isn't what I think it will be like? What if we don't have a good student-teacher dynamic? But I learned more technique in a month of lessons with him than I had in years at the other studio. 5 months after that, I did my first pro-am comp.

So I guess my priorities are:
-Someone whose dancing I really enjoy and find inspiring.
-Someone who can communicate information logically and well to me. (Current teacher is fantastic in this regard.)
-Someone I enjoy spending time with.
-Accessibility. (He is currently splitting time between the east and west coast...and I'm just glad that he is still teaching half the week in Bmore, because I don't think weekly trips to LA would be feasible with my job!)
I agree with that. But she has affectively teach the information she is giving. Currently, I see no need to go see her pro on a regular basis to get better. Yes we do take a lesson with him when we can afford it. But we have seen improvement even from her. If my partner and I could afford travel to NYC and forking out 120 for lessons more often, I'm sure we would.

However, as long as I see improvement in our dancing after lessons, I do not believe we need to be seeing that pro every time we need a lesson. The only thing the pro has fixed is routines. None of the technique she gives us has been corrected. She is a full time ballroom instructor at a private studio who takes lessons regularly with said pro. And she would compete at a very high level of champ if there were partners in this world. Her qualifications are more than apparent. I understand that one day we will out grow her, but we are not at that point in our dancing yet....

Like I said in my post, currently cost is a big issue for me and my partner. We try to balance out quality and price. I'm sure farther down the line, as he moves up in his career and as I, ya know, actually graduate and work full time, we will have a much larger budget dedicated to dance and cost will move further down our list of importance.
My first teacher was two steps down on the "family tree" from the teachers I trained with later. Everything she taught me was accurate. My later teachers didn't have to correct anything she'd taught me. And it was all in more than sufficient detail for the dancer I was at the time.


Well-Known Member
So what makes you want to work with a certain teacher?

Is it their credentials, popularity, personality, success of their students, communication, height, or some combination of these?
The above may get me to take the first lesson, especially the credentials, but not the second. Whether I stay with the teacher has all to do with how they teach me.


Well-Known Member
I would guess it depends on each persons personal goals for his/her dancing, but for me it would be - His/her superior ability to guide me in becoming the best dancer I can be, in a way that is comfortable and enjoyable for me.

This. I also look at the pro's students, as good pros produce good students and good students seek out good pros. It is a strong indicator for me.

Word of mouth (reputation) is also key, particularly if the same things are said from multiple sources.
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