In the 1970s, I discovered Disco dancing and quickly became a true Disco Queen! But I wanted more…
I started searching for a way to become involved in partner dancing full time. I decided I wanted to teach but couldn’t find any schools with partner dance teacher training programs.
So I went the only route available at the time—taking regular private and group dances classes. From these I tried to piece together what it meant to be a ballroom dance teacher. I wrote notes, made charts, struggled to remember what I learned, and still had no sense of the big picture. It was like taking one random piece of a jigsaw puzzle with no idea where it belonged.
With these cobbled together skills, I started teaching. I remember feeling insecure a lot. Often I didn’t really know the answer to students’ questions, wasn’t sure if I was teaching technique correctly, or didn’t know how to troubleshoot a problem with their dancing. Sometimes I was only one or two steps ahead of a student.
Honestly, I cringe a little when I think of the lessons I taught in my first few years. I just didn’t know enough teach with the level of professional excellence I so wanted. I’d say it wasn’t until almost 10 years of teaching that I felt I’d finally gained all the skills I should have had at the beginning of my ballroom dance career.
It was this difficult experience that motivated me to create the Ballroom Dance Teachers College. I knew there were many people who’d love to have a career in ballroom dance, but had no way to easily enter the field. Although some dance schools offer free teacher training, they are reputed to be insufficient and often have much more emphasis on sales than on dance.
I wanted to create a structured program on how to become a professional ballroom dance teacher that would give people everything they needed to know. Upon completing this “college for dance instructors,” I wanted people to be able to start teaching and earning a good living immediately.
Teaching ballroom dance is a real career. Typically ballroom dance teachers charge $60-$100 per hour for a private lesson. Most people with that kind of income have a professional four-year degree (or greater).
New students’ dance futures depend on having skilled, experienced teachers who can guide them well. When students have inexperienced teachers, there’s a higher chance of students giving up on dancing, thinking that it’s too hard or blaming themselves for not “getting it”. Formal teacher training in the art and science of ballroom dancing prevents this from happening.
When people want to learn to social dance it usually means many dances. There are 17 American Style, and 10 International Style ballroom dances. Each dance has three levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Although ballroom dance teachers do not need to know all levels to start teaching (Bronze is sufficient), there are many things they do need to be a competent teacher, including:
- How to dance figures well as both leader and follower
- Know the history and characteristics of each dance
- Know dance terminology to use while teaching
- Be able to spot students’ errors and be skilled in how to correct them
- Understand how the body moves
- Possess the communication skills that will make students love learning with you!
Aspiring ballroom dance instructors who take the time to learn these essential skills from the get-go will reap many rewards. With proper training under their belts, they’ll never have those gnawing insecure feelings that what they are saying is incorrect or ineffective. Instead they’ll feel assured, competent, relaxed, and fully able to enjoy their careers as dance teachers!
My daughter likes to say, “Peace of mind is priceless.”
I believe the skills, confidence, and satisfaction of a job well done that come with ballroom dance teacher training is also priceless.