Dance Coaches’ Dilemma


I recently had a fabulous discussion with my ballroom dance coach about working with amateur students who have different goals for their dancing. I was reminded that as a student, I really do need to share my goals, concerns, etc. with him so that he can best customize his approach to our lessons.

Thinking back to the discussion, I realized that my coach has to discern his approach to teaching based not only on specific conversations about the students’ goals, but also other non-verbal cues or observations.


For example, when a coach works with folks who only want to focus on social dancing or wedding couples with fixed goals/budgets for their wedding dance, there are clear parameters that help the coach discern how to teach and what to focus on.


When a coach works with amateur dancers who are serious about competing as a path to becoming a better dancer or performer and/or have specific goals about either learning or improving, again the coach has clear indications about how to overall structure the approach.


I believe that the most difficult students (in terms of knowing how to teach) for coaches are the folks whose goals and/or desires are ambiguous.   For example, some students participate in competitions but their primary goal for competing isn’t to improve as a dancer/performer. They may like the camaraderie with their studio or the opportunities to dress up, etc. but these students aren’t necessarily focused on or want to spend the effort to improve technically, etc.   In short, these students may be sending mixed messages about their goals or they haven’t clarified for themselves what they really want from dance. So how could a coach know how to work with them – especially if the behavior is different from what’s stated in conversations?


What are the skills beyond teaching technical dance patterns does a coach need to be able to foster a mutually trusting and sharing relationship with a student? And what responsibility does a student have for fostering said relationship?


More in the next post.




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