One of the questions that I hear most frequently from people inquiring about dance lessons is “How many lessons do I need to be able to dance”? The short answer is many! I must admit that this is the only question that I, a professional dance teacher still have difficulty answering because of how “naive” the question itself is. You see, learning how to dance is a process not a destination. I get a little queasy when I hear a new student anxious to put a number on something that is so individual and not very quantifiable.
Some people are born with a natural way of movement while others need time to start feeling the movement. Some may be tone deaf while others can distinguish musical beats in an instant. One person may practice everyday at home and have a slower progress than someone who does not practice at all (Although most times it is the other way around). There are so many variables that it is impossible for any teacher to tell you off the bat how many lessons you will need to be able to dance. People have different bodies, talents and work ethics.
Furthermore, dancing is an art as much as it is a science. Your dancing lessons will change according to what your needs are at a particular moment. For example, you may have gotten to the point where you are able to dance 10 moves individually with clear leading and timing. Does that mean you now know how to dance and can stop? There is much more to dancing than knowing different moves. Maybe now you can start working on how to get in and out of any move at any time and become better at improvising. You may also need to brush up on your posture, frame, footwork, hip action and other technique and styling elements. It is a work in progress for both the student and the teacher – Wash, rinse, repeat!
So what I am trying to say here is that “how many lessons do I need?” is the wrong question to ask. The best thing you can do when you are deciding to start dancing is to commit yourself to consistently take lessons without any definitive time frame. Perhaps you can evaluate your goals and progress every 6 months just to make sure you are getting what you wanted out of dancing – but other than that, just enjoy the learning curve!
What are your thoughts?
Do you agree or disagree? Share in the comments below.
Written by yours truly, Leon Turetsky
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Clary Roberts says
This is my first day on the website and I am getting some great pointers and tips from the articles! Good job!
Claudio C says
Wife and I have been taking lessons for a couple of years (once every two weeks) and we are finally starting to enjoy the dance . When I started i tought all I had to do was to learn and memorize a few steps and i would be on my way.
I quickly realized that there is a lot more to it than that.
Once you memorize the steps , and have the proper hold ,than you have to work on styling , feeling the music, being able to lead, taking the steps on the beat of the of the music , dancing together as one , and on and on .
The first time we went dancing we left after about an hour of watching the other dancers and we felt that we would never be able to dance like that .
Now two years later we have come a long way , my biggest problem is still ( feeling the music) but we usually stay until the last dance , and we can feel some improvement every time we go out .
Thanks for sharing Claudio. I think that many folks starting out don’t understand the full scope of the learning process. In part it may be the instructors’ fault…they usually make new students feel like dancing is the easiest thing in the world. But hey, maybe no one would ever start dancing, if they were told the truth right away. The fact of the matter is, if you want to be good, its hard work! And the key is to ENJOY the learning process and not to look for a quick end result.
Bob Rivers says
Yep! I was one of those guys who would find myself at a club or other social activity see all of the dancers on the floor, really admire the great movement, but when asked to dance- pretend I did not care- Duh! they teach lessons! and finally one day I signed up. That was 4 years ago. At first I was awful but gradually, over time I improved and now I am confident and defend myself well on the dance floor- My wife and I love it!
I’ve been dancing latin since August and I am both pleased with the progress I’ve made and challenged by the work I know is ahead of me. I look forward to every class I take!
Otieno Otieno says
That is quite true. I believe just taking the step to learn how to dance is so that you can enjoy it. To give yourself a target of say..5 lessons to master how to dance is like setting up yourself for frustration. My motto is, “take a step at a time and let your body flow”
Actually, when I first started many years ago I thought we would learn to dance in 2 half-hour lessons. I’m still taking coaching lessons!
I’ve been taking salsa lessons for the past 2 years in addition to east coast swing, west coast swing, and foxtrot – about 60 lessons total (10 privates). I am totally frustrated with dancing and do not feel comfortable with it at all, and do not enjoy it. I’m looking for some advice on whether to quit, or will I someday get better and enjoy it.
Sorry to hear you are thinking about quitting. The truth is it takes a while to really learn how to dance properly and enjoy it. Its a learning process so you must give it time. 10 private lessons is not much…keep going and give it more time would be my advice.