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


Magazine » Social Dance » Socially Yours: Group vs. Private Lessons - Which is Better?

Socially Yours: Group vs. Private Lessons - Which is Better?

Jean Krupa

So, you have decided to learn to ballroom dance. You have taken on a hobby that will provide years of enjoyment, exercise and social interaction. Before you start, you should decide what your goal is in learning to ballroom dance. Do you just want to go out on Saturday night and have fun, or do you want to get serious and learn enough to perform or compete? You also need to decide what your budget is for ballroom dance lessons. Then, you can weigh the pros and cons of group, semi-private and private lessons.

Different Types of Lessons
There are three types of lessons to choose from: group, semi-private and private. Choosing the right lesson depends on your learning style or level of experience. With the right type of lesson, dancers can improve dramatically over a relatively short period of time. This guide breaks down the benefits of each type of lesson.

Group Lessons
One of the best things about group lessons is that they are affordable and you get exercise and socializing to boot! At group classes, you will have the chance to dance with several different people and make new friends. Group lessons are a good way to learn patterns (steps). Group lessons are also extremely fun, so beginners benefit from an entertaining, semi-social group environment.
Group lessons are the most affordable type of dance lesson and they often take place in the evening so they don't interfere with work. The downside to group lessons is that you are sharing the teacher with 10 to 20 other people. You will get little individual attention if you are having trouble, and the pace of the class may be too fast or slow for your liking.

Group lessons are an excellent introduction to dances of all types and the social experience of partner dancing that allows you to concentrate on a single dance. You probably should take group lessons before you take private lessons. The cost-benefit ratio for private lessons is much more favorable after you have the basics under your belt.

Group Lessons – Advantages:
Less expensive
Social time
Learn from others
Less personalized attention
Different skill levels can be difficult
Difficult to teach more advanced techniques

Semi-private Lessons
Semi-private lessons are ideal for learning dances. While group lessons may not offer enough coaching or practice time, semi-private lessons allow dancers with similar abilities to share the cost of the instructor whether with a partner or another couple. With fewer people in the lesson, you have more one-on-one time with the instructor and can address specific issues.

Private Lessons
Private lessons are necessary for serious dancers trying to reach the next level. Through private lessons the teacher has the ability to teach the six elements of dance: Step pattern, Footwork, Timing, Lead and Follow, Style and Continuity. In a group class however it is really only possible to teach the first three effectively, step pattern, footwork and timing.

These lessons can be expensive, but are worth it. They are a great way to learn good technique, because the teacher has more time to go into details. If you want to get good enough to perform or compete, private lessons are a necessity. The lessons will move at the right pace for your needs, and you can learn exactly what you want.

Private lessons are good for pre-wedding polish, especially after you have taken some group classes. In one or two private lessons, you can polish the little things that aren't fixable in a group class; work on styling, dance in wedding clothes and deal with "first dance" choreography (how to pattern the moves across the floor so you look good).

Private Lessons – Advantages:
Personalized attention
Pace is customized
Faster progress
Easier to schedule
More expensive

Hot Tip: A Common Blend
By looking at private lessons and group classes as a perfect partnership you can have the best of both worlds. Learn a step pattern in your group class and then take it to your private lesson instructor to help develop it. Use your private lessons for personal knowledge that is essential for progress and then use group classes as a way to fill in the gaps when a private lesson is not financially possible.
In the end, when you are learning to dance the key to improvement is repetition of the correct techniques. Group lessons should represent what is being taught in private lessons, and vice versa. Ultimately, dancers should enjoy their time on the floor.

However you decide to learn, have fun! See you on the dance floor.