A Guide To Professional Ballroom Coaches

by Can Aksoy on October 23, 2012

Michael Malitowski & Joanna Leunis - from malitowskileunis.com

What is a professional ballroom dancer?

A professional ballroom dancer teaches dance as a job (usually through a studio), and has registered as professional with competitive ballroom leagues. Although there are teaching credentials a dancer can earn, the only official thing denoting this “professional” status is a refrain from competing against amateurs. Accordingly, the skill and backgrounds of professional dancers vary widely.

Some services professional dancers provide:

Group Classes: Professionals at dance studios often hold group classes. This is usually an inexpensive way to observe a professional’s expertise and teaching skills.

Private Lessons: Private lessons are (usually) hourly sessions where the professional directly instructs one dancer (or couple).

Choreography: Professionals can be hired to choreograph wedding dances, competition routines, group dances, and other types of performances.

Professional-Amateur (pro-am) Competition: Students can hire professionals to compete in pro-am competitions where couples consist of one professional and one amateur dancer.

A sampling of the benefits of professional instruction:

Victor Fung & Anastasia Muravyeva - bajecznie.plAdvice: Professionals can provide insight on your development as a dancer, competition confusion, costume questions, etc. Ask many questions!

A Role Model: Dancers need a mental image of how their dancing should look. Without a role model to help define these goals, practice can feel like it is going nowhere.

An Outside Perspective: Professionals can keep you from getting frustrated with repeated mistakes by adding structure and feedback to how you practice.

Choosing a professional as a coach:

The cruel truth about professional instruction is that, although the skill of professionals varies widely, their expensive prices often do not. Thus, it is important to research a professional before starting lessons.

Decide what you need help with: Although you must let your coach guide instruction, retain some control over the path instruction takes, and consequently how much money you spend on lessons. Having an idea about what you need from a coach affords you this control.

Observe their teaching: If you can, try to observe a professional’s dancing and teaching ability in group classes and performances before you commit to lessons.

Is your coach also training? Good coaches often also actively training and competing outside their studio to keep up with fresh, competitive technique.

Evaluating the quality of a professional:

Arunas & Katusha - arunasandkatusha.comSkill: Although expertise always helps, your coach does not have to vastly outrank you in dancing, so long as you are able to learn from them. Additionally, although veteran coaches overcome this problem, your pro should be able to physically dance what they try to teach you; you need to both see and be told what technique looks like.

Teaching: There are many masterful dancers who cannot teach. A good professional coach needs to be able to communicate, create a teaching environment that you thrive in, and be sensitive to your difficulties. Be wary of coaches who only talk at you, and refrain from watching you dance and providing feedback.

Personality: Good coaches are invested in their students. Although professional dancers often have intense personalities, don’t spend too much time with a pro that makes you feel as if teaching you is a waste of their time.

Price: The hourly rate for a private lesson with an accomplished professional is usually around 80 to 100 dollars, although famous professionals may charge more. A professional’s rate should remain same regardless of the amount of people taking a private lesson. Accordingly, be suspicious of studios that do not offer hourly instruction and demand you only buy expensive sets of private lessons.

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