If you want to learn to dance, well, it’s time to find a dance teacher! While it may seem easy enough to find a good teacher, if you are new to the dance world, you may feel a bit lost. You see, within the ballroom dance community, there are countless instructors who teach out mainly three types of studios. The first type is a franchised studio. These are the recognizable names like Fred Astaire and Arthur Murray. The teachers who work in these studios are employees. Your teacher will only make a small fraction of the high price of your lesson. In addition, the teacher will also make a commission on the lesson packages they sell you. This type of system set up the dynamic as teacher as salesperson. The plus side of this type of studio, is that all of the curriculum is standardized and there is an order to the steps you learn and the levels you move through. The teachers are usually seasoned competitors and very advanced dancers from overseas with a strong influx from Eastern European countries. The down side of these studios is that you typically cannot purchase things a la carte, or I should say, it’s not encouraged. Things are usually presented as packages which include private lessons, group classes, and parties. In addition, many students are strongly pushed to sign up to participate in their competitions, or to present dances in the studio showcases. Of course, all of these events add up to more lessons in order for you to prepare, as well as purchasing costumes, and taking additional lessons from “visiting” coaches along with your teacher who will be your partner in these events otherwise known as Pro-Am (Professional- Amateur). Many teachers do start of teaching in a franchised studio, but later, may branch out to work on their own.
The second type of studio also employs the dance teacher, but the teacher is not the one who is selling you the lessons. For example, you go to the studio and explain what you are looking to learn. The administrative staff will introduce you to the variety of instruction that is offered such as private lessons and group classes. Most offer a very small introductory package including one or two abbreviated private lessons, and a few group class sessions. From there, you will decide to purchase perhaps a monthly group class or a 5, 10, or 20 private lesson package. You do all of your scheduling through the administrative staff, and you pay the school. The teacher is then paid by the school. In this structure, the teacher is not paid commission because their salary is usually much higher than the franchise studio. The teachers in these studios are usually specialists in certain areas. For example, some may be deeply passionate about Swing, others the Tango, or some in competitive Standard or Latin. It pays to know what style of dance you want to learn, and specify to the studio what you want. Or you can take many group classes until you see the teacher you like, and then request this teacher for private lessons. You have to do your homework.
The third type of studio is a space which is shared by independent instructors. Ballroom Expression fits in this category. The independent instructor is not employed by a studio, but is part of a community of other independent instructors who rent space to teach their lessons in. When you work with an independent instructor, you will pay your dance teacher directly. It does not go to the school, and then to the teacher. The vast majority of independent instructors are highly trained and skilled dancers. It’s a competitive business with many dance options, so an independent instructor has to be excellent at what they do in order to attract their own students. Knowing this, you will really get the best from the teacher because they are personally invested in building their own small dance school.
The best teacher is the one that is right for you! That may sound funny, but really, the teaching style and personality have to align with you. In addition, it is helpful to check out what others say about working with the teacher. Lucky enough, I have many reviews written by happy, satisfied students on The Knot, Wedding Wire, Facebook, and Google+, so be sure to read them. The only way to know if you will like learning with Ballroom Expression, is to come in and try a lesson. Let’s get started!