You know why you want to dance, you have goals about what you want to accomplish and even how much time and money you want to spend, so what now?
When most people think of taking lessons, they think of going to a brick and mortar building, a dance studio. Dance studios tend to specialize in specific styles of dance. For example, BalletMet primarily teaches ballet, but also has classes in modern and jazz. Emerald City Ballroom of Dublin specializes in ballroom dance. Studios are generally the popular choice for dancers due to their flexibility. You have the ability to focus on one particular dance or a few different dances within a specific genre (i.e. ballroom). There are generally multiple instructors, multiple group classes offered, multiple times to take private lessons and even social parties to attend to practice your new skills. Often times you can even get lesson packages or pay-as-you-go for classes.
Whether you decide to attend a studio or pick an independent instructor, it's generally a good idea to pick one person as your teacher instead of jumping around to multiple people. There's nothing wrong with trying out different instructors or learning different styles from different teachers but especially when you're starting out it helpful to get information from just one person instead of 10 because then everyone's idea on how you should perform a rumba walk starts to conflict with everyone else's idea of how to do it and that only leaves you (the student) very confused about how to dance. Some things to keep in mind when picking an instructor:
- Find someone who's compatible not only with your personality but with your learning style. If their teaching style conflicts with your learning style, you'll have a hard time learning from them no matter how many titles they have.
- Find someone who is as passionate about the style of dance that they teach and you want to learn.
- Find someone who fits your price range.
It is possible, however, to totally bypass all studios and personal instructors and still learn how to dance well. If social dancing is your main goal in dancing, then this route is for you. It's inexpensive and it's a lot more fun than practicing steps over and over again by yourself. The social learner does this:
They get together some of their friends who are interested in dancing, they all drive out to a great social dancing spot (try La Fogata on Friday nights for salsa), they pay $5-$15 to take a pre-dance lesson to learn how to dance and then they enjoy themselves the rest of the night by attending the social dance and practicing what they learned in the lesson.
Do this every week and you can spend a fraction of the amount of money you would spend with an instructor at a studio and still get to learn some awesome dance skills. Most pre-dance lessons are centered around beginners, so don't be shy! This is also a really great way to test out which dances you like the best (and even dance instructors). Undecided about which dance style you want to do? Go to a swing social, a salsa social and a ballroom dance. You'll spend no more than $50 and get a taste (along with a few steps) of 3-4 different dance styles!
Want to really learn how to dance on the cheap? Skip the studio, skip the instructor and skip the social learner's pre-dance lesson. You can still go out social dancing, but only pay for your cover to get into the club and not for the lesson too. Then, sit and observe. Watch the other dancers, pick up their moves and when you're feeling brave, try them out on an unsuspecting dancer. It might not be the most conventional way, but if you're a visual learner, like to figure things out for yourself and are uncannily good at mimicking people, this could be a lot of fun. Some other tools of the trade for the copy-catter:
- making friends with the "good" dancers and getting them to reveal some of their secrets.
- borrowing the "good" dancer's books and videos on dancing (you know they wouldn't buy them on their own!)
- taking full-advantage of youtube.com and all of their dancing videos.