Why Private Lessons?
There are reasons that most of ballroom dancing has been historically learned through private lessons, rather than through group classes or by watching video tapes.
1. Learning through feel
In group classes, we can learn visually by matching the instructor and intellectually as we process the teacher’s explanations. However, in private lessons by dancing with a teacher, the teacher can pass on a sensory experience of what it feels like to dance correctly that we can imprint into our own bodies to later reproduce on our own. A teacher can also bring awareness of how the connection should feel between you and your partner during the dance, so that your dance feels more harmonious.
2. Learning technical information
Many students love learning new steps and patterns. If you like, you can choose in private lessons to learn many new steps and patterns as your teacher can match your pace of learning. However, in private lessons, you also have the opportunity to learn not only what steps and patterns you can do but also how to move through these steps in a more efficient way, and a way that brings out the character of the particular style of dance you are learning . You can learn how to move in ways that allows you more choices about how you might want to dance – quicker spins, more hip action, more fluidity, more harmony with our partner, etc.
If you let your teacher knows that you would like to learn these layers of dance as well, he or she will treat a sequence of steps you have learned like just a first draft that you can develop into dancing the way you really want to dance. Your teacher then will help you focus on what you need to be aware of in your body as you learn each element. A private teacher can also check the particularities of how your body moves and make sure that it is learning and developing new movement patterns that are good and safe for your body.
3. Bringing awareness
As we are first learning how to move in a new way, we are not yet conscious of and can not always feel whether or not our bodies are doing what we intend them to do. As we learn our first batch of technical information, much longer than our minds, and even longer for it to become a habit. Our minds often think we are doing the information that our teacher gave us, but we are not, because our bodies are much slower than our minds. This is why our teachers are always telling us to practice, so that we can take time and dance very slowly to check and see if our bodies are doing what our teachers asked and then to patiently remind them to do what we are asking.
A private teacher can bring attention to the particularities of our individual bodies habitual posture and movements, so that we can adapt them to move in the new ways. He or she can bring attention to the places where we lose awareness and where we need to devote more attention.
4. Teaching us how to train our bodies
Our teachers can give us information about how to practice effectively. When we have problems bringing information into our bodies, we can bring our questions to our teachers for the next lesson.
If we have an amateur partner, we have additional challenges, as both of us are learning and aware of different things at different times. Dancing with a partner, it is easy to feel when something feels wrong and it almost always feels like it is something that our partner did, which can be frustrating for both partners. Private teachers are especially important for couples learning to dance, as they can clarify very quickly what each partner should focus on for the week. If we keep improving our dancing individuals, the dance of the partnership gets much better much more quickly.
Once we have fully incorporated a new layer of information into our bodies, we are ready for our teacher to give us the next layer of information and we repeat the process all over again. We wonder when you see pros and champion ballroom dancers dancing the exact same steps as beginners and the movement looks so effortless. This is why - layers upon layers of information, bringing awareness, and training into habits.