A Dancer's Voice Laura Beers
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In Defense of Qualified Dance Instructors by Mark Traynor
I'm sure most of you have seen them, perhaps even taken a few lessons from one of them. There seems to be one or two in almost every community who see an opportunity and try to capitalize on it. I'm speaking of those dancers who have managed to maybe win or place in a few contests somewhere or just impressed a few people during their own learning process along the way to make them believe that suddenly they're qualified to be a Dance Instructor. It is unfortunate that there is no regulatory body nor licensing process required to keep these imposters from marginalizing what is in fact a noble and honorable profession. It is a difficult enough business to earn a decent living exclusively without having to contend with amateurs who decide to anoint themselves as Instructors based solely upon their ability to execute and understand some of the concepts of whatever dance they've managed to become proficient in, and then market themselves openly to unsuspecting beginners who have no basis to judge their qualifications. Usually, these are males whose ego, need to make a few 'easy' extra dollars and /or recognize the effect of being a respected Dancer / Instructor has on the opposite sex and how it would greatly enhance their social life, whom decide to take advantage of it. These are some of the same behavioral scandals that have plagued respected Dance Studios and reputable independent Instructors thru the years - "Take their money and take advantage of the women if you can" is a common charge and suspicion that continually has to be overcome because of the few who give the title Dance Instructor a bad rep and cheapens the profession.
Although most "chain' studios have been known to put a hard sell on it's prospective clients while offering an 'Introductory Course', these Ballroom oriented studios also usually offer the most qualified Instructors because of their extensive training courses. Instructors are drilled and tested thru several dances to learn both the mans & women's step patterns with 'school figures', danced and tested thru all of the steps in both parts and trained in timing, lead, follow, posture, styling and the nuances adherent to each individual dance. If they're lucky, they've also been trained in the mechanics of, as well as all of the intricacies involved in choreography. And if they're really lucky, they were tested by having to watch their coach dance with others and expected to pick out what went wrong, why, and how it should be corrected. This is an exercise not utilized enough. As well as how to relate to the several different ways people learn and process information.. Yet it is still up to the individual Instructor to take their profession seriously, respect it and continually strive to perfect their craft. Unfortunately many do not, but fortunately, they are the ones who don't survive in the profession for very long. But until they, and the 'self-anointed' teachers are exposed for the inept frauds they are, they manage to take advantage of unsuspecting new students for a period of time, almost always in the social dance world and usually in whatever dance(s) happen to be the current 'craze'. I'm not saying that such intense training is necessary to be an effective Instructor, but many of these phonies have done nothing more than take some workshops and/or bought some other Instructors videos and copied their teaching techniques. Dancing in its many forms constantly evolves and the smart Instructor evolves their teaching practices along with them. But certain aspects remain constant and a complete understanding is required to be a well informed, effective, qualified Instructor. None of us will ever know it all, and as students you may find you relate to one Instructors' methods better than another. And there's no doubt you'll be able to learn something from each of them, even the frauds, but eventually you'll find the best teacher for you and when you do stick with them. They have your best interests at heart once they are able to determine how you best process information given, they can more easily and quickly help you improve. Before committing yourself to a certain Instructor, ask questions of others they have taught, or tried to teach, or even just some people who may know them. Find out some background and experience. Begin with some less expensive group lessons at first and use privates to really fine tune proper techniques and styling etc. The cost of private lessons may seem extreme at first but the benefits, although initially intangible, you'll find to be very rewarding whether you're doing it for yourself or as a couple. Dancing is an extremely fun, healthy, ever evolving hobby you can take with you everywhere and continuously improve at naturally just by doing it more often. It offers exercise without having to join a gym, therapy without paying a therapist, the opportunity to fully enjoy music, an art form and a friendly social life just by showing up to enjoy yourself! It's really the most enjoyable thing anyone can do .in public
But be on the alert for those who masquerade themselves as Instructors without the benefit of proper training. Most are 'moonlighting' because they've found it's an easy way to supplement their income. True Professionals are not motivated by money. If they were, they wouldn't be Dance Instructors because of the difficulty to earn a livable wage as such. There is nothing more disturbing to those of us who have dedicated ourselves to this profession than some phony who has decided to market themselves as a Professional to take advantage of money, women or simply because their ego demands they need more attention. They cheapen and insult the profession and should all be exposed for the unscrupulous frauds they are.
Mark Traynor Floorplay Dance Clubs Founder