By the Expert
Hello, fellow dancers! Our next question is a good one, and to stay in the spirit of being unbiased and unpolitical, our answer comes from the National Dance Council of America.
How do you decide on a professional instructor?
Selecting a dance instructor can be a confusing experience. A true professional instructor will be one who motivates you and ensures that you can accomplish your desired goals.
Well-trained professionals can make all the difference in the success and enjoyment of your dance instruction. Lessons are available in both class and private format.
Instructors can work with you regularly on a class or private lesson basis, or you might choose to take just a few lessons for a wedding or special occasion.
Classes are offered in adult school programs, continuing education departments of colleges, or at your local studio. Many colleges also have extensive dance programs in their curricula.
Lessons in social dance are a fun, healthy activity for anyone. Lessons in competitive ballroom dancing (dancesport) are not only fun but also physically and mentally challenging. In September 1997, ballroom dancing was given full recognition by the International Olympic Committee. Competitions are held regularly throughout the United States in professional, amateur, and pro/am categories—some are even televised.
You can find qualified dance instructors and studios on the National Dance Council of America website and also by looking through local newspapers and magazines, by asking friends, and checking your local adult school brochure. When you are shopping for an instructor, use the following questions as a guide.
- Is the instructor certified by a member organization of the National Dance Council of America (NDCA)? NDCA affiliation secures an industry standard. Only trained professional instructors hold a certification to teach.
- Is the facility suitable, with proper floors and music system? Flooring without the proper give or bounce can cause undue stress on both the leg and spinal joints, where improper lighting and music systems can cause an uncomfortable atmosphere in the room and many times will result in the dancer being inattentive.
- Is the instructor’s teaching schedule compatible with your availability? Make sure the instructor’s hours can fit your schedule.
- Does the instructor provide you with clear-cut cancellation policies, billing procedures, etc. in writing? To avoid any confusion and to protect your rights, it is important to get any policy in writing.
- Does the instructor help you set realistic goals without promising unattainable results? A professional will help you set goals you can reasonably achieve.
- Does the instructor exhibit good listening skills and communicate well? If your instructor doesn’t listen to what you want or communicate effectively, they will not be able to meet your needs or provide positive reinforcement.
- What is the longevity of the student population? If there is a high turnover rate and dissatisfaction in the student body, the instructor and quality of service may not be what you want.
- If competitive ballroom dancing is your goal, does the instructor participate in performance and/or competitive teaching? If not, will they furnish a list of recommended instructors for further advancement?
I would like to add a couple more things to this list.
- Seek the style in which you want to excel. This doesn’t have to happen right away, but open yourself up to trying different ballroom styles, and listen to what your instructor recommends.
- There is a difference between an instructor and a coach. I recommend taking from both if you are serious about competing. Minnesota has past champions and qualified coaches to help you!
“Every time I dance, I turn into a better version of me.”