I love this question. How DO you find a good dance teacher? One important thing to know about our industry (couples dance instruction) is that our industry is not regulated. There are no mandatory trainings or certifications. A teacher doesn’t need anything to put up a shingle claiming dance instructor status. That makes it even more important to know what to ask.
Most dance instructors are highly qualified – having done years of training and sporting multiple certifications. There are some phenomenal instructors out there. Knowing the right questions to ask will enable you to find the one that’s best for you!
Dancers or Teachers
The first thing that we need to be aware of, is that being a great dancer does make someone a great dance teacher (or even a good one!) Dancing and teaching are two separate skill sets. That’s a very important distinction.
We watch people and see amazing dancers. And they are amazing. They’ve spent years training, and working hard on their dancing. They have NOT spent years studying teaching and how to communicate their abundance of information.
Some of them figure out the fundamentals they need on their own, a few go the extra mile to study how to teach, too many stumble along not even realizing that they are missing a skill.
So how do you go about finding a good teacher – ideally one of the ones that has gone that extra mile?
Turn the Tables
This is the fun part. Every studio that I know, has got some ‘offer’ to get you in the door. They’ll offer a freebie of some sort, or super low-cost lessons. Instead of being wary of “they’re going to try and sell me lessons”, yep, they are, so turn it around on them.
This is a perfect opportunity to get to know the studios and the teachers. Be sure to go to several studios. Take advantage of their low price or no price, no cost, entry level offer. It’s most often a couple of private lessons at a discounted rate or even free. Once you are there, pay attention AND ask them questions.
What kinds of questions do you ask? You certainly can ask about their training. What kind of training have they have they had – as a dancer, as a teacher? How many years have they been teaching? Asked about certifications. Do they have any? Are there any in their industry for them to get? Chain studios have their own in house types system. Independent studios will often use a third party system like DVIDA.
In some sections of our industry, there aren’t options for certifications. For example, if you’re looking to learn to country dancing (country two step) or or salsa. There are there are a lot of training options, but no formal evaluation system.
Does Your Coach Have a Coach?
Another question to ask is about their ongoing training. Too often when a dancer gets to the point of coaching they stop working on their own dancing, or on their own teaching. So find out what type of ongoing training that they’re doing, whether it’s working with a coach to help them to be a better teacher or working with a coach to deepen their knowledge. Those are the things that they really will make the difference.
If you’re going to put money into learning a skill, don’t you want the person you’re learning from to be as invested in learning that skill?
If you’re going to put money into learning a skill, don’t you want the person you’re learning from to be as invested in learning that skill?Maren Oslac
So as you are going about your dance journey, take advantage of what the studios (and the industry) has set up as a way to get you in their door. Walk through their doors ready to ask them lots of questions. The answers will be enlightening and will let you know how invested they are. If they’re not as invested as you are, don’t worry about it. Somebody down the road is.
If you can’t find somebody local, contact us. We have online group lessons and private lessons. All of my teachers, including myself, have spent years working on our own dancing and investing in ourselves as both dancers and as teachers. My personal passion is education and I’ve invested (and continue to invest) a ton of time, money and energy into learning about learning.
We would love to have you come in and interview us!