How many teachers do I need to become a good dancer?
The better dancer you become, the more teachers you may want. However, have you ever considered advantages and disadvantages of going to different teachers? The purpose of this post is to show you 5 ideas on what having a few teachers may or may not do to your dancing.
Imagine you want to learn to speak another language, let's say English. You go to school and a receptionist assigns you different teachers- 1 American, 1 British, 1 Canadian. Do they all speak the same language, technically yes, they can communicate, but there are quite a few differences between them. We all know the beauty of various accents (listen to guys from Yorkshire, England for example) and the hardships of understanding them all.
This post is a spin off from an article I read a few months ago on why we should have more than one teacher. You can read the post 5 Reasons Why One Dance Teacher Isn't Enough by Ian Crewe. Again, the purpose of this blog post is to show you a different point of view.
1. Different teachers different opinions
Dancing is very individual and even though there is technique and some rules to follow, all the information is open to interpretation. 5 different teachers may have 5 various ways to achieve the same outcome. For some students, this could be an opportunity to see options from a different angle. I am sure you already had lessons when you understood information only after you have gone to a different teacher for advice and “the penny dropped”. Right?
The problem is that as new teachers may seem exciting, they do not know you as well as your main coach/instructor. At the beginning of your dance journey you can only cope with a specific amount of information. My brain definitely has a limited capacity for knowledge (according to my coach). This means that if you go to different teachers for advice, you may be very confused with the excessive info. One tells you to work on timing, another on technique, third one on connection and fourth on performance and fifth on what colour of pants you should wear for competition.
Whose advice will you follow? Your main teacher or ones who you have just had new lessons with? Or will you just try to implement it all at once?
2. Different teachers for inspirations
Let's face it, we all like new things. When we go on a first date, we see rainbows and unicorns in that person. Because we fill in the gaps we don't know about these people, with what we want. Over time however, we may lose that spark and then hard work begins.
This could potentially be a problem when you go to one teacher- week in, week out turning up for your regular Sunday morning lesson. After a few months you feel less excited and start thinking about a new teacher... Does it sound familiar? Well, going to a new teacher for inspiration is not a bad thing. Sometimes they give you information which will take you further. However, is that really what your dancing needs at that moment?
There are lots of other ways to get inspiration too, like going to a theatre to watch a play or browsing through YouTube dance videos (how many hours of your life did you spend doing that one?). Look around and find inspiration in what you are surrounded by and pass by on a daily basis. Here is a post with 50 ideas to find inspiration (click HERE).
However, it is always good to ask your main teacher for suggestion of who to go to if you desperately want to see someone else. Remember, that your main teacher has a lot more experience than you and they will know exactly what you need at that moment in time... However, be prepared that your teacher may say you shouldn't go to anyone right now. What will you do then?
3. Teacher for technique, teacher for musicality, teacher to make me happy
How many teachers do you have? Do you go to different teachers for different things? Well, should it be the case? Ultimately, every teacher should be as good technicians as they are performers, artists, inspiring people etc. A teacher should be someone who can bring up all those qualities in you, not just one. Do you agree?
Clearly, if you go to a few teachers for different things, you think they are not very good at other things, just some specific topics. Next time someone asks you the questions which teachers you go to and for what, what will you answer? Good teacher has all the knowledge you need to get you where you want to be! You should trust your teacher who already knows you well!
4. Teachers for political reasons
Depending on what stage of dancing you are at, you may have heard of the "politics" behind competitive Ballroom and Latin American dancing. What's your opinion- should teachers be judges at competitions too?
Well, that is the case so whoever you take lessons with, may be your judge at the next competition you are in. Does it mean however, that the more teachers you have, the better results you will have because you had lessons with them? Frankly, whoever you pay a lot of money to, will look at you slightly differently than someone that they have never seen before. That's inevitable. Do you agree? But are there any other ways to win the "crosses" from judges at the competitions? Yes there are but more on that later!! However, remember, once you start working with somebody, you can't suddenly stop...
The important thing to remember about "dance politics" is that good quality dancing will get you far. If you are good enough, you are bound to be successful. If you want to go the route of having lots of teachers just because they are at the next big competition, I suggest you talk to your main coach first to see if maybe all you need is to work a bit harder on your timing, musicality, directions etc. rather than buy your way to the top... However, the choice is yours...
5. What if you have a teacher who has all of the above?
Now imagine, finding the person who you trust with your heart. You know they have been successful in the past, they have the experience and ideas to get you where you want to be. They inspire you and make you feel you keep progressing and moving forward, regardless how slow it is... All that in just one person. Well, this could be your coach. I always encourage to have a CEO, the boss on your team, I mean your coach who will make executive decisions and take charge when times are hard. Remember, it takes time to build trust with your teacher but it's a two way road. Teachers also start trusting you- it's humane.
Like I said before, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a number of teachers. If this is what works for you, then keep going. Just remember, that one good teacher can sometimes offer you a lot more than 10 different individuals. Especially when you are at the beginning of your dance journey.
How many teachers may you need as a dancer? Please leave a comment and let me now know how many teachers you have and what works for you. Remember, everyone has their own recipe for success- just stick with it and always be open-minded.
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