Here’s a real problem; the dance “industry” (or any social art form or pastime for that matter) is not license regulated, nor is there educational requirements to teach. Are you shocked at this? Anyone who wants to teach dancing can simply do it and often the public is not protected until it is too late. To achieve that “good start” that you desire consider some of the following tips when searching for a “terrific teacher!”
1. Has your perspective teacher actually danced socially or competitively before declaring himself or herself as a “professional?” There are several organizations and dance studios that are desperate to get as many “teachers” as possible on the floor working in the few prime time hours from 6 PM – 9 PM during a weeknight. Because you are a beginner they can get away using a demonstrator or a fledgling teacher to show you the steps by copying their feet. This makes dance an intellectual process void of true muscular feeling rather than a physical one which is necessary to actually learn. Without knowing it you’re really paying for the fledgling’s training and their own practicing!! Copying dance steps with your intuitive pedestrian skills will typically fail or surely be remiss and you will have wasted your time and money. This is especially true in any of the dance styles done with a partner.
2. How many years of dance training, and specifically in the Latin, Swing, or Ballroom Arts, have they had and who were their teachers? There are many folks with good eye hand coordination, who watch videos or even YouTube to learn to dance, that’s great for them. However those videos do not and cannot teach them how to disseminate the technical information that you the general public needs. Examined teachers study how to bring standardization to dancing in the usage of the dancers’ frame, characteristics of the dances’ and the techniques of successful movement! This means the vast majority of these types of teachers’ students actually learn successfully and for a lifetime. In the same way you learned vowels, consonants, words, sentences, and then paragraphs to read the credentialed teacher can bring you to a cumulative and successful understanding of Salsa, Bachata, Swing, Ballroom, Wedding Dancing, etc.
3. Is the instructor a certified member of the National Dance Council of America, Inc. (NDCA)? Yes there is an organization that has independent examiners with one major overriding premise. That premise is to insure the public is taught by professionals that have the blessing and respect of their peers. Teachers in the public school system have to go through this process, why not teachers of dance? There is nothing easy about teaching any style of partner dancing, just ask a public school teacher who has taken as an example Salsa or Ballroom lessons.
4. Have they taken a Professional Examination for certification by a properly credentialed examiner? You know the expression, “put up or shut up”, this means teachers who take you and their teaching seriously have spent their money on training and the examination process. Just because someone is an American it doesn’t mean they automatically know how to play baseball never mind know how to coach baseball. That also goes for baking apple pie, or even knowing how to drive a Chevrolet. All of these are acquired skills and they each require training and education. There is absolutely nothing intrinsic or natural about moving with someone attached to you – this is without question an acquired physical skill. You do not know what you feel like to someone else! The measure of your dancing, leading or following is more often than not based on your partner’s ability and feeling rather than just your own. These feelings are not found in footsteps or foot placement, they are contained in the very sophisticated art of connection. Videos cannot interpret or convey connection, inexperienced or short term teachers struggle with their own understanding of connection. Will they be able to convey the techniques of connection to make yours easier to realize.
5. Do they proudly display their current NDCA Membership and Affiliate Member Organization’s Credential Certificate? You like this when you go to your doctor’s office or even your hairdresser’s salon, don’t you?
6. What, if any, are your instructor’s contractual arrangements and cancellation policies? The respect of your time and theirs is vital to a successful relationship with your teacher.
7. Will that instructor help you achieve your present and future goals? How that teacher discusses the future and your expectations is often indicative of their experience after dealing with the broad-based general public. If it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t. If dancing was very easy everyone would be doing it. Why is it when you go to a wedding it takes an assembly of a couple of hundred folks to produce a couple who can comfortably partner dance?
I sincerely hope these words help and thereby make your dancing experience wonderful!
The Professional Dance Vision International Dance Association (ProDVIDA) is a professional dance teacher association. Most training programs utilize the ProDVIDA syllabus and guidelines for certification, which is recognized by the National Dance Council of America (NDCA). ProDVIDA provides workbooks, manuals, DVDs and student tests for teachers and certification programs.