How to Find a Great Teacher or Course

What makes someone into a good or great teacher, or a dance course into a good course? Of course, there are many different aspects of this, and some of them depend on why you want to take the course. If you just want to have fun, a stand-up comedian with some basic dance skills might make you a great teacher. But if we assume you really want to learn how to dance well, here are some criteria to help you pick:

This is an excerpt from one of my books - "The Secrets of Social Dance - How to Become a Popular Dancer" which you can find on Amazon.

Do they know the topic?
First of all, does the teacher know the subject? What does it tell you if a teacher offers a dance course but have never really taken a dance course themselves? What about a teacher who learned from youtube? Would you spend your money on someone who hasn’t spent their own money to learn? I am not saying it is impossible to learn on youtube, because there are classes, and there are also some good classes. I know it is also possible to learn dance in online classes, and I offer some kizomba and kizomba fusion courses online myself. But, I believe it doesn't make much sense for a student to pay to a teacher who has not invested time and money in their own education. No matter the teacher's level of dancing or teaching, if nothing else, investing their own time and money is a signal that they are eager to learn. They are eager to learn so they can give value to their students. It means that they are not only in it for the money. They actually care. They want to teach and they want to do a good job. It means they value their students' investment and they try to deliver some value. So, make sure your teacher actually knows what they are doing. What have they done to learn this specific dance? How much time did they invest? How much money did they invest?

Can they teach?
Being a great dancer doesn't mean that someone is a great teacher. People can be both, but it is not always true. When I practiced capoeira in Brazil I realized that to find the best teachers, I needed to look at the great students. Who are their teachers? It wasn't always the most impressive capoeiristas who had great students. And the great students didn't always have teachers that were very impressive capoeiristas. It is the same with kizomba, salsa, bachata and any other social dance. So, look for someone who has good students. Someone who has nice students. Look for someone who you like how they teach, someone who doesn't only show you what to do, but who also can explain how to do it.

What do they teach?
It doesn't matter much if the teacher is great if he/she teaches you totally useless stuff. That said, a great teacher wouldn’t normally teach you useless stuff, but you get what I mean. How much of what someone teaches is actually usable on the dance floor? Is it mostly moves to show off how great a dancer the teacher is? Or is it stuff you can actually use on the social dance floor? Here you have to take several different things into account:

  • Can you do this move with someone who didn't take the class?
    Is it really, I mean really, possible to actually lead and follow this? Does the action the follower should take actually make sense from the signal the leader is sending? Is it "natural" to react this way? If it is not “natural”, it will not make sense for everybody, and it will not be possible to lead with everyone. Except for the few people who took that class, maybe.
  • Can you do this move with any size/shape of girl or guy?
    Some tricks, for example, are very hard or impossible to do if the follow is bigger or heavier than the lead. Another reason for not teaching this kind of thing is to not embarrass anyone in the class.
  • Can you do this move in a normal social where there are many people around you, on a crowded floor? Or is it only possible to do it when you have a lot of space? The more space you need, the less usable it is on the social floor.

The more "no"s you get, the less value you get from the dance class. The less you can actually use what you learn. I try to always teach things to which I can say yes to all of the above. It should really be lead and follow. It should be possible to do with anyone. And it should be possible to do a move I teach also on a pretty crowded social floor.

Do they teach you how to dance, or how to be a copy?
Are you taught long sequences of steps that you tie together on the dance floor, without really listening to and adapting to the music? Or are you mostly taught techniques and concepts that you can use to create your own dance, as you hear the music? Do you learn "production" of dance or do you learn "reproduction" of dance, becoming a carbon copy of the teacher, without really listening to the music? The best teachers encourage the students to learn how to use the tools and then create their own dance. The best teachers teach all the basics well and then encourage their students to start experimenting, finding their own style.

Do they want you to become as good as possible, or do they want you to be "their" student forever?
There is something that is pretty common around the world, and it is teachers who try to prevent "their" students to take classes with other teachers. It is also pretty common that the students are not encouraged, or rather discouraged to go to classes or even parties and socials that other schools organize. I have never understood this. I have always wanted my students to become as good as they possibly can. I have always told my students who ask for it to go and take other classes too, to widen their horizons. And if someone says something else than me to figure out what technique works best for them. I have always encouraged them to go to as many parties as they can because that is how you really learn. You need to practice, you need to spend time on the dance floor, you need to get moves into muscle memory so you don't need to think how to do them, but rather can focus on dancing to the music! And that is also the reason most of us dance - to have fun!

This is an excerpt from one of my books - "The Secrets of Social Dance - How to Become a Popular Dancer" which you can find on Amazon.

Suggestion - Check the kizomba, fusion, musicality and follow technique courses here


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