Over the years you’ve taught a large number of people in your dance classes and you’ve obviously got – as you’ve said – people who come for years and years even though they are getting towards let’s say the twilight time of their life. But they’re still determined to come to your classes. So do you have an insight as to why specifically people take dance classes and particularly yours?
Why my classes? Maybe they have friends in the class. Maybe it’s just a convenient location for them. Maybe it’s that I have the patterns that I taught them years ago and we can review that material for them. Or I can give them new patterns. I’m not sure. I try to let them have a good time in class. I’m not strict with my students unless they want me to be. I want them to have fun and learn how to get on the dance floor and dance the proper dance to the right music. But, overall, it’s social dancing for fun.
A lot of people will take dance classes and then after a period of time, they will stop taking classes and just go out dancing. They’ll join dance clubs or get with a group of friends and go out and enjoy dancing. Some people will stop dancing because of illness or other situations that don’t allow them to dance any more.
Other people continue studying dance for many reasons. They look good on the dance floor and they get compliments. They remember patterns and styling. They feel good when they dance. Dancing is their social activity with friends. Then, maybe when they are right at the top of everything they start forgetting patterns and material and they find themselves repeating the same few patterns over and over
And even though they look good and everything’s going well with their dancing, they realize that they’re no longer doing a variety of patterns. They might remember that they have learned more material in that dance in the past and think that they should be able to do more variations. So they’ll come back for review or to learn more material.
Sometimes dance class is just their form of exercise. Some look good on the dance floor and they get compliments. Some make that their social night.
Sometimes dance class is just their form of exercise. With a lot of couples, both people are working. And these days, many are still working in their 60s and 70s. And when they work, especially when both parties are working, they may not have a lot of time for socializing. So they’ll often register to take a class together and make that their social night. Taking a class makes sure they have a night out. They will come to dance class and then maybe go out to dinner. That gives them a chance to do something together socially. Sometimes groups of friends meet at class then they choose a place and all go out after class to eat and visit for a while.
In my classes, I have them dance with their own partner, not mixing them with other partners. Yes, if someone wants to learn to be a really good dancer, they will learn better by dancing with a variety of people. But there are many reasons people may not want to do that. Like I mentioned, when both of them work, and sometimes they even meet at class on the way home from work, they want to spend time together.
I have been told by some people that they will take my class if I don’t move them around with other partners. Others have physical issues as we mentioned before. A back problem can be exacerbated if someone turns that person the wrong way. We don’t want to cause emotional issues when people come to dance class to learn to dance together and then don’t even get to dance with their own partner.
In some large classes, they may start with the partner they came with and not even get back around to their partner before the class is over. My classes require partners and most of the time, I leave them with their own partners. Most of them dance at the same level and that works best for them for the type of classes I teach. There are many classes that require changing partners, like college-sponsored classes. Students need to find what works best for them.
People come to classes for a variety of reasons. Some just come for the exercise. Some of them come because they’ve forgotten material and some of them will come, like I said, because they need to have a time to be together and that’s their date night. I do have some students who come to my classes solely because I let them dance with their own partner. I teach basic social dance and that partner is the person they will be dancing with, so they don’t really care if they know how to follow someone else.
So they’ve incorporated that into their lif
How Long To Start Seeing Results?
If somebody wanted to go into the same field as you, dance training how long would you say it would take somebody to get started – not to get to that level that you are at because that clearly takes decades – but how long to get started and to start seeing results?
Definitely they would need some training. I understand that there are some dance studios where people are taking private lessons and the next thing they know they are being told “Oh you’d be a great teacher.” Then they start teaching students who are just a couple of lessons behind them. I know of several people who had this happen to them. It was scary for them since they weren’t really teachers and instead of really teaching they were just showing their students what to do. I say “showing” their students because many people can show someone a step. But there is a lot more to teaching than just showing and having students copy their movements.
There are some studios that work that way. These so called teachers are still paying for lessons because they’re only a few lessons ahead of their students. I guess that’s one way to do it. And it works for many.
From the start, I wanted to teach independently for private groups and park and recreation departments. That has worked well for me because that’s where the students I want to teach were looking for classes. Others prefer studios and that’s great for them.
But before they begin they do have to make some major decisions. Do they want to teach for a private dance studio, a chain studio, as an independent teacher, through parks and recreation departments, with a dance teacher’s association, private facilities or out of their own place? And of course, what type of dance will they teach? Ballroom dance, Performing Arts, or some other specialized dance? There are so many to choose from. And what level will they teach?
Each potential teacher needs to decide specifically what they want to teach.
Like I said, I determined at the start that I would teach beginners and intermediate, American style ballroom social dance. Of course, sometimes people have to try several areas to know what will be the best fit. This is my area. Each potential teacher needs to decide specifically what they want to teach. Specializing will help. Being very specific is important. That decision will determine how much training they need, where they need to get the training and how soon they will be able to start teaching. And what they teach may not be the favorite dance they like to dance.
I had a determination to teach and I wanted to do it well. I can see what students are doing. I think teachers have to be able to see what students are doing with their body as well as with their patterns and their steps. How they’re moving to the music and how they interpret the music is what determines how they dance.