General Dance Discussion > Dance Instructor Training Offering

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by TripDubSki, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    Wise words from raindance and snapdancer. Especially the part about not rushing in, gathering more information and experience, exploring various studios and options. It just seems very early in your dance journey to decide you want to be an instructor because someone suggested it to you (oh - and beware of flattery as a persuasion technique - there can be a lot of that depending on what studio you are at), especially when it hadn't crossed your mind previously.

    Don't get me wrong, we need dance instructors, but it would be a shame if your joy and passion for dance to take a sour turn (esp so soon) if the instructor training process turns out to have some surprises that you find unpleasant, when maybe just finding a cheaper student/amateur option was a possibility. I am not an instructor, but I've had several of them and chatted with many more, including a number of trainees who did not last. There's a fair amount of non-dance related work as well - you may or may not consider this kind of stuff tedious - instructors are often responsible for the thankless tasks that go into prepping for and making an event happen (decorating, procuring provisions, stapling event schedules, sweeping the floor, plunging the toilet, etc etc). It's not just show up, teach, go home. Also if it's a franchise there will be sales quotas. Your dancing will take a backseat to your students' dancing - you will have to fit your own progress in when there's "spare" time here and there or on your own. This is not to discourage you - many dance instructors love what they do and are excellent at it (including several on this board) - but the initial period of paying your dues can be tough. I think the key is going in with eyes wide open and realistic expectations.
    raindance likes this.
  2. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    There is a phrase "once a student, always a student"... and I am sure the studio would rather invest on training you with a teachers mindset from the get go than try to convert someone with student mentality into a teacher.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2017
  3. TripDubSki

    TripDubSki New Member

    Yeah, I did some looking around during break at work and I found a studio exactly like the one you just described here. I live in a small town, and not too far from a small city. It's rather hard to find a studio that isn't focused on training kids, or focused on ballet or tap, which I'm not too interested in.
  4. TripDubSki

    TripDubSki New Member

    Yeah, I'm leaning more towards this now after reading everyone's opinions and comments. I'm still going to meet with the studio director to ask my plethora of questions before I make my final decision.

    You're totally correct on the flattery part. It serviced my ego, and I should have been a little more self aware. I've been doing some research and I found an independent studio that fits my budget much more nicely. Private lessons aren't required, and the group lessons are much cheaper. I also feel like there will be more social opportunities for me at this studio, which is the main reason I signed up for lessons in the first place.
    IndyLady, Loki and raindance like this.
  5. Partner Dancer

    Partner Dancer Well-Known Member

    Don't knock the ballet/jazz/tap/etc. stuff. Because you have no prior dance experience, I'd highly recommend that you take a year or two of adult classical dance classes, while you mess with Ballroom, because you would gain a lot of appreciation of movement and the body and accelerate your execution of Ballroom fundamentals. I see many Ballroom students who have been at it for years/decades who can't do decent turns/spins/walks/etc. because they just collect patterns without ever working on improving the elements.

    The classical dances are taught in a very different way than Ballroom, where simple drills are the order of the day, to acclimate one's body to basic things like body part articulation, etc.. The approach may open your eyes to shortcomings in the Ballroom teaching system. Of course, one has to be able to figure out what's right/good in one arena verses the other, but the knowledge from similarities outweigh the confusion from differences.

    Ballroom studios tend to prefer to recruit newbie instructors from dancers with prior classical dance training, because they already have a lot of foundation, such as in just being able to stand straight or present arms nicely. That's how some dancers, instructors or students, are able to excel at Ballroom with seemingly few lessons and little time.
    FancyFeet and MaggieMoves like this.
  6. MaggieMoves

    MaggieMoves Well-Known Member

    This is my largest pet peeve out of anything with some people who have been "dancing for years." Like you said, classical dance training will only strengthen your ballroom skills - or you can just find a ballroom instructor/coach that works on this stuff. They seem to be few and far between though. There's one high level coach in NYC that stresses the importance of it and it seems to filter down to all the high level amateurs in the area.
  7. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    TripDubSki, consider the situation in six months. the alternative is:

    - You've signed with the studio. You've been trained for free. Trained to teach the beginners. Which is not the same as trained as a social/performance/competition dancer. Now, as you did not quit your regular job because real life needs real money, you're facing three years of spending all your evenings and Sundays and Saturdays, teaching dances that you don't like to clueless beginners who will step on your toes all day long, in group classes or privates. Three years where you will be spending time in a studio, but not dancing really.

    - You've not signed with the studio. You have been saving some money for six months, while also having a social life. You're now facing a few years of learning the dance at the studio, just like any student, at your own rythm and picking the dances that you like, until after a while you decide that you're proficient enough for the goal you had and for whatever the current level of your passion for the dance will be by then.
    debmc, IndyLady and s2k like this.
  8. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    One thing to consider is how you / the studio would handle you becoming unable to work due to injury or illness. If you're mainly commission, you're toast, at least for awhile.

    Insurance exists, but you need to factor in the cost, if any to you.

    Don't let what you read here make your decision for you. Just be very diligent in looking at all aspects of this - physical, social, financial, psychological before jumping into anything. Good luck!
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017
    IndyLady likes this.
  9. s2k

    s2k Well-Known Member

    I have practiced at a chain studio for seven years. The following is, therefore, all anecdotal.

    They put out a Craigslist ad looking for new instructors every year, and every year there's a five to seven twentysomethings who show up for the "training class." Several have years and years of ballet. They're the first ones to drop out. In fact, of all of the instructors who have come and gone over the seven years I've watched, only three have lasted more than two years, and none of them could dance a lick when they first started. Like most of us, lol.

    At this particular studio, they work quid pro quo - no pay in exchange for "free dance training." They're expected to attend every 7 p.m. group class and every Friday party and shadow a teacher for a certain number of hours a week, in addition to the "training class." This is the reason most people leave - I can only assume the applied because they needed a job. They work for free for weeks at prime hours, which, if someone needs money, this set up is not ideal.

    What I have noticed is the training class spends about 20 minutes on the floor "dancing," and the remaining time of the "training class" doing business scenarios - sales. I've watched the training teacher pretend to be a prospective student as the training class members give the tour of the studio, and then the teacher pretends to be a client with an excuse: "I can't afford it," "I have very little time," etc. He or she then trains the training class members how to swat away such excuses.

    It finally dawned on my that they weren't training instructors to dance. This dance studio is basically a sales job. I mean, I get that it's a business, but it's a sales-driven business, like gym memberships and car sales.

    So keep your eyes and ears peeled. Will this turn out to be a dance job, or a sales job?

    Good luck!
  10. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    @s2k that sounds like it could be my studio, lol. I heartily second your observations about persistency and the sales nature of the job.
  11. Partner Dancer

    Partner Dancer Well-Known Member

    What do you think is the reason for this? Do they usually quit or are let go? If due to quitting, is it because they "couldn't" pick up the Ballroom stuff, or they thought the teaching methodology was too lame, or they realized it was mostly a sale verses dance job, or for some other causes?

    When I was a rookie, my chain studio brought in a trainee instructor who had significant classical dance background, who had just graduated college and was trying out the dance instructor route. She lasted a few months and was let go. I thought her group classes were fine.

    What I heard was that the management didn't think her teaching style was accommodating of the clientele. She tended to want students to do things "right" from the on-set and was more like a drill-sergeant, in the way she was brought up in dance. Of course, the "old" students aren't accustomed to dancing as a regimen and are in social studios to be coddled and flattered. And studios certainly don't mind taking the most amount of time (and $$$) to get students to learn/do the simplest of things.
    MaggieMoves likes this.
  12. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    Anecdotal here, but one of my instructors, who is partnered with another instructor with an extensive ballet background, has mentioned that the ballet background is often an impediment to properly partnering or connecting with one's partner, as ballerinas are so accustomed to taking full responsibility for their own movements and being in control. It makes the "let go" aspect of following more challenging. They have been together for a while, and truth be told, I can tell that her style has influenced his leading - he has kind of a ghost-like, hard-to-detect lead (which is not visually obvious to onlookers). I've lead her a few times at party, obviously I am not the world's greatest lead ever, but I have noticed that she seems to be further on the "must work to let go of control" end of the spectrum than many of the other ladies I've lead, both students and instructors.

    Just my 2 cents.
  13. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    MaggieMoves likes this.
  14. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    He/she, got that right
  15. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    I just realized I typed "lead" instead of "led" a couple times. Gah.

    Carry on.
  16. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    Follows felt like lead?
    Joe likes this.
  17. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

  18. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    Ahh, but you noticed. Few do.
  19. s2k

    s2k Well-Known Member

    All I have to go on here is what I suspect, because it's my own impediment, too. Too many years of training in the exact opposite way of moving the body that I'm supposed to in the Latin dances - years of ballet. I cannot speak to the similarities or differences with smooth/standard - although I had an instructor tell me once that with my background smooth was probably a smarter choice than rhythm...

    Here's a few (and these are just mine, and some of this may end up being semantics):
    • Ballet is UP UP UP. Rhythm is down down down. HA - rhythm is actually upper block UP and lower block down. :rolleyes:
    • In ballet, turns are done in a block - every part at the same time, with the exception of the head. In rhythm/latin, one part of the body turns first and the other part follows. The body should not move as one block. I've been dancing rhythm since 2009 and I'm pretty sure I still haven't gotten this unprogrammed. (LOL "ballet Stockholm syndrome")
    • In ballet, we turn on a releve, and in rhythm/latin, heels are allowed to "scrape the ground," or at least that's how I've thought about it. I've gotten yelled at because I'm "popping" up onto my demi pointe in my turns. So I have had to train myself to "turn lower."
    So the ballet dancers who leave, I think they don't realize how different the dances are technically, and these in particular maybe didn't want to "start at the ground up" in learning a new style. One trainee, who was around for about eight months, did a bolero showcase, and she was lovely. It was very contemporary. But there was nothing bolero about it.

    But it could also be that teaching at a ballroom studio, as a newbie, is not as much of a "dance job," as this person might have expected. Teaching dance to children in a regular dance studio is going to be very different from teaching a couple in their 50s to dance. Those of you who are ballroom instructors, and have made a living at it, can see past the boredom of teaching the merengue for hours upon hours to people who are hanging on you and can't find the beat because there are so many other elements to the job that you love. So if a long-term-student-of-ballet-but-newbie-to-ballroom comes in without really understanding how "it works," I can see how "teaching ballroom" might not feel "like dancing." And therefore, this job, to that person, may not find teaching ballroom a "dance job."

    Or something. :)
  20. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    Yeah... the hardest thing for me in ballet class is not standing like a standard dancer. I have trouble staying in the ballet neutral with my back, because it feels like I'm leaning forward. Other things that are hard, thanks to ballroom: putting my heels on the floor in jumps (especially fast ones in 5th), and remembering to spot (because I can quite easily turn a clean single pirouette without that). I imagine that it would be the same, but in reverse, for someone with extensive ballet training trying ballroom.

    @IndyLady I also have trouble with the let-go-and-follow thing, but that has more to do with how long it takes me to really trust people... I've been working with pro for years, and I still struggle to not default to 'pull in and do it yourself' when I'm stressed. It could be ballet training, or it could just be her ;)

    To OP: There have been some really good points in this thread. Something else to consider: do you know a pro that you could talk with to get the benefit of their hindsight? I've considered turning pro on-and-off for about a year, and one non-competitive pro said something that really stuck with me: "I wish I'd known what it would be like before I made the decision. I didn't realize that I wouldn't really ever get to dance anymore. I might have chosen differently." I like teaching, but I love dancing... so going for teaching over dancing wouldn't be the right choice for me - at least not right now.

    Your choice may be different... just make sure it's an informed one :)
    IndyLady and raindance like this.

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