Five Positive Attributes of a Great Steppin’ Instructor
How good you become as a stepper depends in large part on the quality of dance instruction you receive. During my 11-year tenure as both a dancer and an instructor, I have come to understand a few realities as it relates to finding and keeping a qualified and talented dance instructor. One important reality is this: ALL GOOD DANCERS MAY NOT BE GOOD TEACHERS. I’ve learned that there are several considerations a novice must make in choosing a dance instructor.
Here are 5 attributes that I believe make for a good Steppin’ instructor and a positive experience for newcomers to the dance. You know you have the makings of a good instructor when:
- You can tell that they love the dance for the sake of the dance. In short they’re not in it for the money, they’re in it because they’re passionate about the dance and you can see it in their faces, in their eyes and in their body language. They make the dance look easy, and you can tell their having fun doing it. They convey that love for the dance with passion and commitment and are consistent in their pursuit of excellence in the dance. Instructors like this will do what they do for free and take risks to continue doing so (e.g. leaving a full-time job, pouring all of their resources into promotion of the dance, etc.).
- They care about YOUR development. Forget about cheating or taking shortcuts in learning the fundamentals and techniques of Steppin’. Good instructors won’t let you cheat or cut corners because they care about your longevity in the dance, your ability to participate actively regardless of geography, as well as the fact that you’re a walking advertisement of their teaching ability and they take great pride in producing good students. A good instructor emphasizes what you development means to YOU – the benefits of the dance, the ability to travel and network with the Steppin’ community at-large, the joy of becoming a “preferred dance”, etc.
- They have a “proven” track record. I emphasize the word “proven” for a reason, as I do not subscribe to the notion that to teach Steppin’ you be a winner of a contest or several contests. I’m a firm believer that a good instructor produces good students, well-versed in the fundamentals of the dance with flawless execution. Great instructors produce great dancers. They have a solid dance reputation locally, regionally or nationally even (if they’ve never competed), and other instructors often be referred new students in their geography to them. Great instructors have a tested methodology for instruction as well as a clear and distinct course of action for your advancement in the dance.
- They can fully explain what they’re teaching you and what they need from you so that you understand. They make learning simple, fun and easy to learn. They can demonstrate, flawlessly any technique in the dance AND adequately explain the “whys” behind the technique, making you a more knowledgeable and wise dancer. You’ll know what you’re doing as well as why you’re doing it, which makes for a more enjoyable learning experience and gets you well on your way to becoming a great walking advertisement for their ability to teach.
- They have a proficient dance skill set. I’ve used the word “flawlessly” throughout this discussion to emphasize how an instructor executes dance moves. A great dance instructor demonstrates proficiency in the dance by making the most complicated moves look easy, and the easiest of moves smooth in their execution. Most or all of the great instructors I’ve seen have a mastery of the dance which amazes and dazzles the average dancer. They make beginners look like seasoned dancers and the make the seasoned dancers look like stars! They execute their moves with great timing, they’re smooth in their transitions in and out of the “lanes” in the dance, and they’re deliberate in how they lead their partner. A good instructor with a proficient skill set in the dance is a joy to watch and they ignite a passion in others to learn want to learn.
These are five attributes that I think make a good instructor and ensure your success as a student of the dance. I’m sure there are more and that you can come up with your own list of attributes that make an instructor great. Feel free to refer back to this list at any time. As always, you can also leave a comment below and if it’s a good one, I’ll give you a shout-out and add it to the list!
Feel free to share this information if you know of anyone looking for an instructor and can use some guidelines for selecting an instructor they can be comfortable with. Let’s keep getting better, so we can do better. Let’s continue making the Steppin’ environment positive, healthy and vibrant!!