USA Dance, Member Services
P O Box 126
Southampton, PA 18966-0126
United States


Magazine » March April 2013 Issue » How To Take A Dance Lesson

How To Take A Dance Lesson

Daniel Calloway

When an adult student takes a dance lesson, whether he or she knows it or not, both dancing skills and a set of essential learning skills are integral parts of that student's learning. A student must implement learning habits in addition to the dancing in order to become a successful dancer. Learners often become frustrated and quit because without these learning skills their learning stagnates. On an academic level, most universities recognize this problem and require freshmen to take a basic study skills course to teach them these learning skills. Developing study skills in dancing is similar to developing good habits early in life. Developing disciplined habits at dance rehearsals enables any dancer to get more out of each rehearsal.

Good preparation for any lesson is more than just arriving early. "On time" for a lesson is actually fifteen minutes late. The dance teacher's maxim, "early in life, late in dancing," conveys the image that on the dance floor most dancers rush the music, failing to get the most out of the dance experience; it also suggests that it is better to be early than late so the rush of preparation doesn't cheat you out of the full value of the experience. There can be a lot to do before a lesson: some socializing is to be expected; shoes need to be brushed and put on; the body needs to be warmed up; and notes from previous lessons should be reviewed as part of your preparation. When a partner is involved, warm-up can take longer and the agenda for the lessonshould be discussed as a partnership before the teacher arrives.

Individual work between practices is extremely valuable so the lesson can begin with a quick discussion of your individual efforts since the previous lesson. Normally, questions about choreography and technique arise when new material is rehearsed, especially when you have practiced them on your own. Get in the habit of composing a written list of questions about prior material. The highest compliment to the teacher is the value beyond the lesson that the student places in what is being taught.
Because most dance students must fit their lessons into an often hectic and unpredictable life, these habits of being early for a lesson, practicing between lessons and taking notes on that practice can't always be maintained to perfection. The important principle is that they are habits worth cultivating. Learning to dance is most enjoyable when accompanied by the feeling of accomplishment and progress enjoyed by those who have developed these habits.