During the last few months I have observed some unfortunate but regular occurrences. Wedding couples have had to leave other dance studios in frustration in this very region. Those couples have had to start all over again or worse they have had to unlearn some of the various errors and then had to duplicate their expenditures to learn again. Another issue in some of these cases are, that the time envelope prior to their wedding date was already fragile. I have to believe that there have many other couples that just give up on the idea of learning to dance or resort to dancing what I call the “Penguin Shuffle” a/k/a Two monkeys huddled together in the rain rocking back and forth! The following is a description of some of the problems they encountered:
- The couple was misdirected as to the dance genre of their 1st dance song so that the inexperienced teacher could “teach” them what he claimed to know rather than what was appropriate. Intrinsically they knew the feeling of their steps did not match the music.
- The costs of the lessons were very high to begin with and the progress of the dance couple’s growth was stunted because they were being shown inferior framing and technique so that they were not able to make their dancing work together. They quit that expensive studio with their last comment being – “They only wanted to dance and they didn’t realize it would be at the cost of buying their groceries prior to the wedding.” Also, the genre of the dance they where being shown was only marginally acceptable.
- Another couple went to a studio with a very specific request – they wanted to segue between to songs therefore needed to learn two dances or come up with a viable alternative in using their heartfelt music. They bought the very expensive recommended program which included private lessons and group classes. They were told this would handle what they wanted and would satisfy their requests. They seemed to be shown a new dance every session as if the dances shown were varied appetisers, yet learning nothing. They became frustrated and left still owing money for useless group classes that did not include the genre of the dances that would match their music.
- Lastly, and perhaps the worst, a couple almost broke up because of the frustration of taking lessons from a female teacher who could not teach leading!!
How can all of this happen? It’s simple, in this country, yes the USA, teaching any social art-form does NOT require licenses or credentials or even experience as a teacher. In the case of dancing a young good looking person with exuberance and an outgoing personality can walk into many dance studios (with no dance experience in dancing) and be teaching any form of Ballroom, Latin, Country, etc. in a matter of months. I wrote an article about ten years ago entitled “Dance Instructors Wanted No Experience Necessary” as a feature writer in Dancing USA Magazine so I’ll not rewrite if here. It was a three part series and for a while made me the “Ralph Nader” of the dance business. Studios who were guilty of some of the practices described above hated it while patrons of those same studios and competent teachers applauded the series of articles. You may read the 1st at my website: http://jeffallendance.com/about-jeff-allen/magazine-articles/dance-instructors-wanted/ Many people start to attend dance studios and because of certain social vulnerabilities can be taken advantage of. Many studios are expert at taking advantage of these vulnerabilities while at the same time making these clients “feel good” about being taking advantage of. It’s the part of my profession that I deplore, I’d rather teach folks to dance and as a result they feel great about themselves. They build confidence, look better, feel better, and become stronger people as a result of becoming competent in Ballroom or Latin Dancing by overcoming the many difficulties in learning to dance successfully.
When you are a wedding couple you are definitely vulnerable to unscrupulous practices, inexperience, and negligence of varied wedding vendors. You have a milestone date and want everything to be just perfect. In other businesses get referrals in my profession do the same and ask if the person teaching you has recognized credentials by the NDCA. Ask to see them, they should be prominently displayed. It takes years of dance experience to pass professional dance exams and a large investment of time and money. I know I’m a National Examiner for DVIDA and both have the privilege to train and prepare teachers to take the exams and actually do the examinations. Maybe if teachers and studios are asked more frequently for their credentials they’ll begin to be more serious about their teaching and the knowledge to do so. Perhaps you’ll save yourself or other wedding couples the pain of the couples described above. As for these couples their problems were or are being taken care of and their confidence in their ability to dance has been restored!!