Tips for Choosing a Dance Instructor

By observing how different private instructors dance – at studio dances, showcases, or special performances – you will pick up clues about their teaching styles and personalities.

Tips for Choosing a Dance Instructor

During the first weeks of the year ballroom studios traditionally attract a new group of beginning students. Congratulations on those New Year's resolutions!

Some of these new dancers will take private lessons to ensure a faster learning curve or to feel more comfortable during group classes or dance parties. If you're a beginner who is thinking about one-on-one instruction, you may be wondering how to find the best instructor. Here are several suggestions:

1. Ask for recommendations

Friends or co-workers who are ballroom dancers may be happy to recommend studios or instructors. If your close contacts are not dancers, they might have connections with people who are. Ballroom dancing has become so popular that reliable sources of information are often easy to find.

2. Research your options

Use the Internet and social media, like Facebook, to expand your search for recommendations. Satisfied ballroom dancers are eager to recommend teachers or studios. Studio websites and online newsletters often contain instructor profiles. In addition, many teachers – both studio staff instructors and independents – maintain their own sites or Facebook pages.

3. Attend a 'beginners' night

Look for dance venues or studios that offer "beginners' nights" or "guest nights" with a nominal admission cost. This is a great way to obtain an overview of teaching talent, since instructors are usually present on these nights, dancing with their students and newcomers.

4. Watch instructors dance

By observing how teachers dance – at studio dances, showcases, or special performances – you will pick up clues about their teaching styles. Certain techniques may be more appealing to you than others. You'll notice professionals who are precise and dramatic, while others appear equally proficient, yet more relaxed and conservative in their moves.

5. Try a test lesson

Studios, as well as independent teachers, frequently offer a free introductory private lesson. This is a chance to test how you feel about coaching with at least one private instructor.

6. Consider different teaching styles

If your first "test drive" does not feel right, consider trying other instructors. Talking to a studio manager about your preference for an instructor's approach can save time and money. Explain what kind of advice has been helpful in the past when trying to master a new skill or sport. Although one or two hours with other teaching styles may not be free of charge, the experience will offer a comparison, and it can prevent investing in lessons with someone who doesn't meet your needs.

7. Find a "connection"

A good professional reputation and solid training are essential for qualified instructors. But regardless of awards or certifications, you need to feel a positive connection – a fit with your personality. Working with an instructor involves common expectations and goals, clear verbal communication, and close physical interaction. The chemistry must work for both of you.

8. Stay within a commute comfort zone

Select an instructor with access to a studio floor that is reasonably close to your home or workplace. If attending lessons becomes inconvenient due to a lengthy commute, you may find yourself repeatedly arriving late or halting instruction entirely.

You and your instructor need to be on time for lessons, relaxed, and ready to go!



Cheryl Burke Dance Mountain View

For more information, see cherylburkedance.com. Click on "Contact Us" or the studio Facebook pages.


© 2012, Cheryl Burke Dance, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Claudia Cruz January 16, 2013 at 07:54 PM
Square dancing! That's neat! I haven't done square dancing since junior high school. Thanks for sharing this. There isn't a Patch in Sunnyvale, but we definitely know there's lots of great things happening there!
Claudia Cruz January 16, 2013 at 07:56 PM
Hi Parth! Question: Do you have several instructors for different styles or do you try to find one instructor who can do it all? Is the latter even possible?
Claudia Cruz January 16, 2013 at 07:59 PM
Thanks for the comment Patty. I agree. Very informative. I find that my apprehension with dance instructors is that some could come across as having an ego. I would want support and not pity! I think it's probably a good idea for a studio to allow a prospective student to watch an instructor help another student.
Mandy Henderson January 28, 2013 at 09:59 PM
I read the 10 tips for choosing an instructor and I definitly agree that you must have a positive connection between you and the instructor. Dance is alll about communiction and how you and your partner communicate together if there is no connection or lack of a positive one it definitly makes dancing especially learning to dance more difficut.
Michael Wright August 06, 2013 at 02:27 PM
I say try different instructors, and feel how well do you connect? At end of one hour, do you feel you have some new knowledge? And... when dancing with others do you feel you have new capabilities? Privates are the way to but can be expensive and time consuming. Most have just one private instructor but if you really want to get "serious" then you should have several. Also take advantage of workshops, group lessons, and particularly when studios have visiting dance masters i.e. Rafael Cologne. Let me add, nice photo of Gail Stevens in the long gloves with her student (Steve?) you have here.


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