The Lonely Life of a Ballroom Instructor

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by Monsieur Fatso, Oct 1, 2012.

  1. Monsieur Fatso

    Monsieur Fatso New Member

    I've been teaching ballroom dance for 6 months. I had never danced before. Since I started I have lost 45lbs and learned a lot of people/business skills that only add to what my university taught me about marketing.

    For those of you who are students and not instructors it may come as a surprise to you that most instructors work ALOT. It's not unusual for me to work a 50-60 hour work week. I go out with my staff sometimes social dancing at places you wouldn't expect to see ballroom dancing, like clubs for example. This does result in attention from women outside of my ballroom dance world, but it never really goes anywhere. I teach all day and at the end of the day it's easy to go out dancing, but I can't really find the energy to muster up teaching any potential girlfriends how to dance. I don't want to date a staff member because most my staff agrees, we don't s**t where we eat.

    My question out there for other young instructors is this. How do you go about dating? I would prefer a partner who does what I do, because let's face it, dancing is where it's at. It's fun to go out and dance and get those envious stares, but where do you even start? Do you date other staff? Other instructors from other studios? I'm young and I want to be sucessful at a young age. I know it requires focus, but part of that is not hitting the local clubs that lack quality people and also not doing it every night. I'm sure there's no right answer to this... but I'm just curious about other young professional instructor's dating life/situation. Are you single and if not, does your partner dance? I see so many amazing pro partners who are married. How does this happen so much?
     
  2. Steven123

    Steven123 Member

    Somebody hired you to teach even though you have never danced before? That is not fare to any students in your studio who are actually talented. I am just a lowly amateur/social dancer who has been dancing in various ways for four years, and I think dancing is the worst way to meet any friend at all let alone girlfriend. While it can be really fun sometimes, dancing is like fantasy land. It is best to meet a girl outside of dance who shares values with you. If the girl is willing to trust you and can keep a beat and if you are a good leader, you can dance very nicely with her without having to teach her anything. The best place to meet girls are places where they share the same values as you.
     
  3. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi Fatso, it totally went wrong!

    - Most of my friends chose to be an instructor only for that said reasons: to be asked by women for five years without pause.

    - So if this state did not arrive, you committed some serious mistakes! Look:

    First answer: you chose BR. Why on earth BR? In BR you have to replicate standard routines. No latitude for experiments, no personal development nor self realization besides perfection and alignment. If you want to be admired you have to grow into an artist and leave conventions behind.

    Second answer: You started in the wrong sequence. Most of my friends (including me) started teaching first and spent every hard-earned cent on education later on. Usually busisiness and marketing are the weak points.

    Third answer: Don´t speak of work. You practice and improve simultaneously. People are your material: Have you already found out that there are more than five types of different backbones? Lordotic, anti-, and hyperlordotic ones, kyphotic and scoliotic spines, only to mention some extrems. Refine you clinic eye everyday in your class. Rectify the pelvis of uptight girls, hit the trigger points of tightly wound guys.

    Fourth answer: Don´t stare after girls. Be inapproachable instead. Always signify the intention that you better can do without a girl, that you actually live with and celebrate your art.

    All the best
    od
     
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  4. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    M. Fatso, I got to think that your name, and the fact you mention losing weight, is some sort of indication of where you are coming from. It is an interesting choice. There are many big people who are great dancers, but they don't chose a name that labels them as "big"...

    Anyway, it is good that you are trying not to date people whom you work with. And if you see people whom you are interested in I would suggest asking them out to do something outside of dance.
     
  5. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    I think that your success at losing 45 pounds in 6 months is the real story here! I think that folks on this forum look at dance instruction not always as a success path but as part of their dance education, or part of the result of education... and you might find it hard to be taken seriously in the dance world with your inexperience, workload, and goals when there are many out there that have training that is not only sales based.
     
  6. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    once you have been dancing longer, the need to be in a relationship with someone who also dances will probably dissipate...as will the desire to do a bunch of dancing outside of the studio
     
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  7. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    Six-week wonders. The franchise studios do it all the time. You'll see ads on Craigslist in big markets looking for teachers (especially men) with no experience required. Some turn out fine, some aren't so great, a lot don't stick with it because they discover the hours are awful and they don't in fact meet lots of women.

    Most people I know who are professional dancers who are in relationships met their partner via work. Studio I'm at is owned by a married couple who were professional competitive partners. I know cases where pros date/have married other teachers' students (rarely their own, without ending the teaching relationship anyway.) You date out of the pool of people you interact with. When you have jobs that require more than the normal 9-5 work week, that's usually people in the same line of work. You want brutal hours where you never meet people, try cooking.
     
  8. suburbaknght

    suburbaknght Well-Known Member

    Hi, MF. I've been in the same place as you: starting as a six-week wonder (I had some slight ballroom experience when I started which turned out not to count for much) and discovering the toll it takes on our social life.

    To start, your attitude about not dating your coworkers is a good one. Keep it.

    Second, 50-60 hours a week is going to be usual for you for the next few years. Heck, that should be light. The more work you put in now the sooner you'll get to where you want to be, dance-wise, career-wise, even socially. It's hard work but remember that this is the easiest it will ever be. I assume from your post you recently graduated university and so you're in your early 20's. You have the energy now to dance for twelve hours a day and your internal clock is flexible enough to stay up to 2:00 AM practicing then be at work by 10:00 to start it again before the students come. Take advantage of it. That schedule's going to be a lot tougher on you in even just five years.

    Third, keep social dancing. Remember why you love dance. That's what saves you from burnout.

    Fourth, don't focus on dating for right now. Be open if something comes along but don't make it a deliberate goal. Cultivate friendships instead. With men, with women, find people you just like spending time with, then take the time to do that. As dance teachers we sleep when others work, work when others play, and play when others sleep. The little bit of free time we have when others are free is to be cherished. Spend it with people you care about.

    Fifth, accept that your next significant other is probably not going to be a dancer, at least at first. Go back to my previous statement about making friends. Develop a social life in your limited free time and you will start meeting people you want to date and who want to date you regardless of the dancing. If these women are interested in dancing encourage them to take class somewhere else. In my own relationship, we discovered early on that it lead to too much stress and argument if I tried to teach my girlfriend; I'll help her with some things but by and large she has other teachers as her primary teachers and it's helped out a great deal.

    Sixth, nurture some interests outside dance. Listen to NPR, read books, pick up another hobby so that when you do meet a girl who may not be in the dance community yet you will have something else to talk about.

    Seventh, not socially related but important, the initial training you got from your studio is woefully insufficient and the ongoing training not nearly enough. Be prepared to invest heavily in your own training and practice relentlessly (see my second point). Pay additional coaching with the best teachers you can afford as often as you can afford. The more you can do now the more it'll pay off in the future.
     
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  9. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    From my observations at a big studio, full of twenty-something six-week wonders:

    1) Out of about 30 teachers, two teachers on the staff married each other. You could say that they worked in different departments, though. They divorced after a couple of years, but I couldn't say there was anything special about how or where they met that influenced that.
    2) About 25% of the younger teachers were married, all women, all to men who weren't dancers.
    3) None of the straight younger male teachers were in committed relationships over the course of a couple of years that I was there.
    4) All of the older straight male teachers were divorced.

    As to competition couples that are married: based on conversations, reading, observations, sometimes it's a matter of convenience and/or expectation rather than actual love. Sometimes they do actually grow together. But it would be quite a stroke of luck to have your soul-mate also be your best choice in competition partner. Don't limit your options on either front. ;-)

    If you want to date ladies that dance ballroom, that could be challenging. I commend your commitment to avoiding workplace romance, but you will need someplace to dance ballroom regularly where you are just dancing socially. If the scope is wider than that, any sort of partner dancing is OK, then regularly dancing at salsa clubs, swing club, argentine tango events, will provide an opportunity to get to know lady dancers from outside your workplace.

    But if you are going to work crazy hours, cultivating a relationship with anyone but a coworker is going to be tough.
     
  10. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    FWIW: NP and his wife were partners first, co-own the studio, and are on kid #4. So it's definitely not impossible. I wouldn't gamble everything on it, but it can happen.
     
  11. Monsieur Fatso

    Monsieur Fatso New Member

    I appreciate everyone's input. I take all of it in! However this first post really urked me.

    WOW. You sound like you have a chip on your shoulder and possibly a bit of an ego. If you love dance so much, why don't you try a career in it? Do you understand how fast someone with no dance experience immersed into a career in ball room progresses in relation to someone who is spending A) their free time, which actually cost them money because we all know the old adage "Time is money." and B) Their MONEY (which is no secret ballroom is not an inexpensive hobby). I trained for 4 hours a day for 8 days before I was hired on. I learned and passed the test for an in-studio level known as "Social Ease" which comes before preliminary bronze. Not all studios use this level. Most studios throw people right in there doing Cha Cha and other more trying rhythm dances.

    I was certified to teach this level, that doesn't mean my studio put "interviews" aka leads from tradeshows right in front of me on day 1. Instructors have to A) Continue ongoing training in the actual art of dance for weeks after being hired on before a student is actually placed in front of him or her. B) Have to learn the people skills and business side of their studio. This means how to teach a lesson, how to go through proceedures, and how to talk to people on the phone. There's a lot of thought put into it more than you realize. If I meet a couple in for a first lesson, as a male, I do not greet the woman first. I greet the man. There's a reason for that. Dancing, like anything, comes with a lot of presumptions to an outsider, such as dancing being something you only do with a significant other and we have to educate them on how it isn't like that as they go on. We are more than dance instructors. We are personal trainers, therapists, and friends.

    Excuse me? Are dancers born or made? Do you think my management put me out on lessons with other instructor's students on exchange or "buddy lessons" with veteran amateur dancers who have been dancing for years? No. In the interview for the position I told the person interviewing me
    "You know I've never danced before."
    He looked me straight in the eye, smiled and said,
    "We are not looking for dancers,
    we are looking for teachers."

    So who are you to say people who have never danced can't be trained to be dance instructors? That's like going into an interview for Starbucks and the interviewer saying, "Oh, you've never worked an espresso machine before? Sorry, continue your job search."

    Coming from NO dance background if anything makes me a better teacher because I can relate to my students, again most of which have NO dance experience. When I see that newbie get that waltz box right after the 6th attempt on a first lesson I can say "WOW, you know it took you 10 minutes to learn that. It took me almost over an HOUR." You are going to be GREAT. Then they become great and that's how dancers a made through SINCERE ENCOURAGEMENT. I've seen girls come in with 18 years of ballet background and FAIL as instructors because they couldn't TEACH.

    Most people coming in for a first lesson have never danced before. If you think a studio can't train someone who has never danced before to be an instructor then why should you have faith in them to teach a student who has never danced before? Did you come out of the womb doing tango promenades? One more thing, hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.

    Students are jealous when they see a no-background clutz come in and start teaching and then two months later be further than them after they themselves have been dancing and paying for lessons for a year. You have to understand, instructors dance all day almost. It's mostly all they do. The ones who want it will put in the work and get good. Everyone gets good.

    There is your problem right there. You see yourself for what you are when you should see yourself as what you could be and then you would be what you should. You have a negative self image and that's a killer from the start. Also, my co-instructors are literally the BEST friends I have every had in my entire life. They put my old college and highschool friends to shame when it comes to the definition of friendship.

    I didn't get into ballroom with the hopes of getting laid. I got into ballroom because I was sitting around for two months after graduating from university with an advertising degree and none of the agencies I applied for saw anything in me. That manager that hired me at my studio DID and I am forever thankful for it. Students come for one of two things: SOCIAL or SEXUAL satisfaction. I don't care how you sugar coat it, that's what it comes down to. I was not naive to the fact that dancing would help my dating life, but I needed a job, but what I found was a PASSION and a CAREER.

    Dancing is not a fantasy land, it's a promise land. I don't know where the girl for me will come from, but where ever she comes from she has to dance whether she be a seasoned instructor or someone that I have the desire and energy to teach after a long day of doing it for money. Then and only then will it be LOVE. People who can dance prefer others who dance as well. That is a fact. Values? I don't know much about values, but I know what I like. Like I said, I don't sh*t where I eat and my studio has a no frat policy. So you can see where my dilemma is. I'm only eating and I never sh*t. I go out, but it all seems frivolous to me now. I've become a professional.

    Again, thank you for the rest of the forum's input. There's a lot to read/digest and I will get to it, however being a passionate young professional who works a lot, I don't have time to respond to everyone.

    Thanks again guys! - MF

    PS: My screen name is an adopted one from someone from a forum I haunted years ago when I was big into indie music. I was never "FAT" but I was 5'8" and 195 lbs. I'm now 150lbs. THANK YOU, DANCE, but also Crossfit and the Paleo Diet. Dance got me through the first 20lbs, then I hit a wall. If you don't know what CrossFit is, look it up. It's the BEST conditioning for an serious pro competitor or theatrical arts performer. Remember, dancing is a sport and you are an endurance athlete... also when you do row machines... it's a waltz! BOOM TICK TICK, 123, 456!!!
     
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  12. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Does this happen anywhere but in America. Wow!
     
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  13. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Dunno. But perhaps the outraged belief that there's absolutely nothing wrong with it might be.
     
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  14. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Well, I did not say anything like that. I know from experience that skilled dancers not automatically make good teachers. Teaching needs an analytical eye, and that´s what I wrote about. Good luck, so far.
     
  15. kckc

    kckc Active Member

    Has to dance? Please don't close yourself off like this- that is setting yourself up for failure. You might find a dancer, but again, you might not. Many people on this board are married to or dating non-dancers (or infrequent dancers) and have found that their relationship is quite good precisely because that person has their own passion for something besides dancing.

    I know you are busy but you might try the search function when the time comes- there are many threads on "my significant other doesn't / won't dance".
     
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  16. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    I suggest that this person's diatribe about their 8 day quest to become a dancer and teacher be sticky noted as a warning to others. I find it amazing that someone can equate their 8 days of training and the thinking that teaching people a box step puts them on a par with the world class dancers and teachers that make up this forum's population.
     
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  17. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Hey, I was a 6 week wonder... don't knock a system you don't know anything about. Everything MF described as his beginning is typical. Everything he has said regarding his experience for the past 6 months I could have written before he got here. I was trained from the same manual. It is only of the recent 20 years, since the European immigrants have been coming to America, that the industry has even had a choice about hiring someone other than a complete beginner. The gate was opened after The Wall Fell. There was a small trickle of Russians that came over, and settled in NYC. Then a few more came... Then about 10 years ago they all came flooding over. So that now... everyone thinks (especially this East Coast centric board) that some eastern european with a 10 dance championship title from 25 years ago, as a kid, is the only possibility for a "real" teacher!!

    I distinctly recall having conversations with my first boss regarding the matter as well. And her answer was "I would rather hire someone one and train them from scratch to do it my way, then hire someone that has already been dancing who wants to come into my studio and do it all their way."

    And yes, studios hire "teachers". They have no use to hire "dancers". There is a HUGE difference in mindset.

    Perhaps MFs bravado geta under your skin, perhaps he is a troll. But you can't honestly go around crying foul over something you know nothing about.
     
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  18. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    Yep, someone drank the sales Kool-Aid. Four hours over eight days to "qualify"? Thanks, I'll stick with teachers with thirty-two YEARS dance experience, not thirty-two hours.

    The whole "I need TEACHERS, not dancers" line is pure marketing Shinola right there. I can TEACH lots of things, and do it for money. I can teach basic riding (after twenty-odd years of doing it myself), I teach museum programs, I could teach cooking. I have taught basic skating. Teaching is indeed something that is a separate skill from the one you're teacher. I would STILL always opt for a teacher who can both DO and teach at a level substantially above my own, rather than someone who's had less than a working week of training over mine at the skill she/he is attempting to communicate.
     
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  19. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    looks like you drank, someone elses, kool-aid too.
     
  20. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Um... No. Not in the least true. Nonsense.
     
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