Finding a good class and dance teacher will mean different things to different people. For some it’s for fun or fitness reasons, while others seek professional training. For me, when I began taking dance classes, it was all about having fun! As the year’s passed, my perception of dance changed, I became more focussed on learning and developing different styles of movement, performance and music, but more importantly, it became about maintaining me, myself and my soul.
I come from a musical background, and have played musical instruments all my life. My love for music eventually led me to dance which has become my second passion. Growing up, I never had the opportunity for proper dance training. The countries that I lived in didn’t have these dance facilities, the normal after school curriculum was sports and music. I used to watch a lot of music videos on MTV and learnt about dance that way. So I guess you could say that I have been trained by the top choreographers in the business from the MTV School of Dance! It was when I arrived in New Zealand that I was exposed to the world of Hip Hop and that’s where I started my dance journey.
I thought I would share some of my tips on finding a dance class that suits you. Different kinds of teachers suit different kinds of students but there are some qualities you’ll want to look for when deciding on the right class for you:-
* Choose a dance style that you would like to learn and then observe a class of that particular style. You can learn a lot by simply watching a class e.g. does the class have structure, good choreography & music or a dedicated teacher?
* Try a dance class at least three times. Give yourself a chance to adapt to the class. It is a great way of discovering if the teacher’s personality and method of teaching suits you as a student. It also allows the teacher an opportunity to break through any barriers or fears you have in being in the class. It all comes down to having the right connection.
* Choose two classes that you will go to religiously while trying out other classes. These will be your foundation classes, one for fun (a class where you don’t have to think about the choreography and just let yourself go) and the other is for discipline (a class where it challenges you and takes you out of your comfort zone). It’s important if you want to become more serious about improving your dance skills, to keep a balance between what you can do and what will help you progress in what you want to achieve.
* Try different dance studios to keep the variety up so you don’t get bored – change of environment and mixing with different energies is a great way to keep motivation up.
* Dedication of the Teacher – observe how the teacher conducts a class. You want to learn from a teacher who you can grow and develop your skills with, since these are the skills that they will pass on to you. I was lucky enough to find dedicated dance teachers, whose enthusiasm and passion captivated and inspired me to understand the discipline of dance – which is putting in the effort to go to class, practice and do the homework so you get the results.
* Respect & Feedback – This is a big one! You want a teacher who both demands and shows respect. Certain teachers will give lots of positive encouragement, while others may be strict when it comes to pushing their students towards excellence; they push because they see potential in a student. If this becomes the case, you must be sure that you are the kind of student that can handle the constructive criticism – don’t take it personally. The feedback should be taken for what it’s intended to be – feedback. Respect is always coupled with etiquette – never forget to thank the teacher after a class – it might not be much but at least you are thanking them for sharing their time and passion with you.
Finding the right teacher can prove to be a difficult task, but once you’ve found one, they are likely to play a large part in your dance journey. I found going to classes not to be an outlet of energy for me, it was more of an IN-let of energy which has shown and taught me a lot about dance as well as myself. I found that if you have the patience and take the time to put in the hard work, you can conquer anything that’s thrown at you. So, try and remember that you are responsible for your dance education – the teacher and classes are there as your vehicle, but you are always in the driver’s seat.