Dance Instructors or Dance Coaches
Over the last 10 years, I’ve been blest to have worked with several fabulous dance instructors. Thinking back, I can honestly say that I’ve learned from each of them. In addition to learning steps to various dances, our first instructor got us past the fear of looking foolish – and on to the dance floor at practice parties. Our second instructor helped us learn leading and following as well as more advanced steps so that we weren’t bored.
When I decided (with my husband’s blessing) that I wanted to do showcases and compete, I started taking additional lessons without my honey (we still do a couple’s lesson). These instructors have helped me continue to improve my technique and expressiveness (always a work in progress) through learning how to:
- holding my frame correctly
- using my arms more effectively – and starting to dance with my whole body
- how to distribute my weight appropriately – especially for turns
- recognizing subtle leads
- proper hip action for rhythm dances
And yet, as much as I learned and as fabulous as these instructors were, not all of them were great coaches. For me, having a great instructor who is also a wonderful coach has helped me transition from the mindset of “taking dance lessons” to acknowledging myself as a “dancer”.
So what’s the difference between an instructor and a coach? For me, a great coach goes deeper than the technique and fun aspects of dance.
A great coach (often by asking gentle, probing questions):
- recognizes how you best learn and adjusts his/her teaching style accordingly
- understands who you are as a person – especially your emotional make-up – and taps into that understanding to motivate, challenge you and still build your self-confidence
- takes the time to learn what your dance goals are – and teases those goals out when you’re not sure
- goes beyond the lessons to provide tips and hints for practicing at home
- knows before you do when you are ready to take your dancing to the next level and gently pushes you to achieve more than you thought possible
- uncovers the dancer within – helping you to inject your own expressiveness into each dance
- listens to your concerns in multiple ways – verbally and non-verbally. For example, a great coach can read fear and doubt on your face without you having to say a word – and offers tips on how to manage/overcome your fears.
Finally, a great coach, even knowing you are the student, treats you as a partner. Partners recognize that we each have knowledge and perspectives to share and we learn from each other. For example, as the student/partner, my perspectives might enable the coach to see his (or her) gifts and talents in a new light as well. And when we are blest to be in such a partnership, we also learn about ourselves more fully. We are on this dance journey together.