Saturday, 31 March 2012

How To Choose A Dance School

Well, as it's my first blog post, I might as well start at the beginning and give some advice on choosing a dance teacher if you've never danced before!

The first thing you need to consider is "are they qualified?"  Since Strictly Come Dancing has been on the television, ballroom and Latin dance teachers have been springing up all over the place - trying to capitalize on its current popularity.  A qualified teacher should know the correct technique but more importantly should have insurance in case you have an accident whilst on the premises.  There are many professional bodies in the UK; the main ones are The UKA, The IDTA, The ISTD and The NATD.  Don’t be afraid to ask - a qualified teacher has nothing to hide!

Secondly, location.  You want somewhere that is accessible all year round.  That drive down the country lane in the summer can be quite pleasant but a little less appealing in the middle of winter when it's icey or snowing.  Once you're there, is there sufficient parking for everyone?  You don't want to have to get there half an hour before the start of the class just to get one of the few parking spaces available.

Another consideration is your teacher's personality.  Now you know, we can't all get on with everyone, so give your potential dancer teacher a call and have a chat with them.  What are they like?  Friendly or standoffish?  Do they answer your questions clearly and concisely or do you come away from the telephone conversation feeling confused? 

Now, an important bit of advice!  As a dance teacher I get inundated with phone calls every day, from telephone sales to people enquiring about dance styles we don't do so, do your homework!  If the dance school has a website, take a look at it.  Do they teach Ballroom and Latin?  If it's up to date then there should be a class schedule on there.  If you're enquiring about Absolute beginners classes then what night is it on?  Are you able to go?  It sound obvious but we currently have a couple who can only come on a Monday to our advanced class and are totally out of their depth!  They slow the class down and will inevitably quit because they can't keep up.

So, you've found your teacher.  They have a class on the night you want, they're just down the road and they sound really nice on the phone.  Job Done!  Well, not quite.  Once you start your classes you need to ensure the content is kept basic and appropriate for complete beginners.  A simple Cha Cha, basic Waltz or Social Foxtrot routine is ideal for complete beginners.  When you first start dancing, repetition is the key so teachers should stick to a short routine with one dance per lesson to avoid overwhelming new pupils.  Classes should be fun, light hearted with plenty of time for practise with your partner and the opportunity to ask questions.

Ballroom and Latin dancing is an ideal way to keep fit, make new friends and learn a skill for life.  Take the plunge - you won't regret it!

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