(1) Teaches Musicality.
Musicality (in dance terms) is simply the ability to connect with the music and ‘interpret’ the rhythm you’re dancing to. A good teacher can teach you the basic steps and a boat load of turn patterns, but a truly great instructor will teach you how to ‘listen’ to the music. Knowing the basic step count is important, but you need to dance the them at the right pace and energy. The video below is a funny and informative introduction to musicality.
Your teacher can be the greatest dancer since Turbo from Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo, but if they can’t explain dance concepts effectively then you’re wasting your money. Magic Johnson was one of the the greatest basketball players of all-time, but he was a terrible coach. He had the basketball knowledge, but he couldn’t effectively communicate his ideas to his players, and he only coached one season. The same goes for dance instructors. You should definitely plan on attending one class as strictly an observer so you can get a feel for their communication style. You will also see if their class size fits your needs. Do you want to be in a large class where you can practice with more students, or a small class that is more intimate with more personal instruction? These will be important questions that you will solve by attending a class. The clip below is a the type of salsa class you definitely want to avoid!
Your latin dance instructor should love teaching the basics as much as a kid loves Kool-Aid. The ‘red’ flavor. They should be a stickler for emphasizing the fundamentals and not let dancers get ahead of themselves. The vast majority of female dancers prefer a guy who is an expert at leading a few basic turns over someone who knows hundreds of fancy turn patterns, but is terrible at leading them. Guys prefer a girl who willingly follows their lead and doesn’t ‘back lead’, or do a lot of ill-timed shines that throw off his rhythm. A dancer who is fundamentally sound on the basics is a joy to behold simply because you can connect with them, and you don’t have to worry about what surprises they have in store.
What style of bachata do you want to learn; Dominican or a more sensual style? What style of salsa do you want to learn; LA On1, New York On2, Colombian, etc…? Do you want to learn ballroom Tango or Argentine Tango? Ballroom Cha Cha or Club Cha cha? These types of questions should play a factor in your instructor decisions.
Most dance instructors will have some videos available on Youtube. They will either be sample instruction from their classes/website, or videos captured by students watching them dance at festivals, clubs, etc. Youtube is an invaluable tool to preview who you will be entrusting your dance soul too.
If you have any tips that you’ve found helpful let us know!