Last night we took our first ever (West Coast Swing) private partner dance lesson.
In short, it was AWESOME.
I know this might seem gimmicky, but let me describe the experience with an acrostic:
A-Attentive: Having the instructor all to ourselves meant that we could receive critique targeted towards our movements (or lack of movement), which is very difficult to garner from a group class. Not that teachers pay less attention to students in group classes, there are just more dancers to observe and the finer points tend to get lost in the shuffle (literally and figuratively). I admit that the quality of the instruction matters lots here as well – and fortunately for us Sherry is a very skilled and accomplished teacher with a clear compassion for her students.
W-Welcoming: In a private lesson you can really just be yourself. This might seem strange because suddenly all the instructor’s attention is acutely focused on you (so therefore maybe you’d try harder NOT to mess up?) but actually, if you can “let it all hang out” and just trust your instructor, a private lesson allows you the ability to make a fool of yourself with the person you dance with most often, without worrying about who’s watching (although trust me, I rarely care about who’s watching- I’m gonna dance like it’s 1999 in the supermarket aisle!).
E- Exclusive: This is a little obvious, but the lesson is just you, your partner of choice, and the instructor. So Joe who picks his nose before switching partners, or Mary with the dirty hair, that you find in group class – are not there. Plus, I found our private lesson to be a great way for us to bond as dance partners, because in a group class our time dancing together is very minimal and hardly enough to have any sort of conversation. A private lesson gave us a place where we could hear and be heard by each other, as well as the instructor.
S-Specialized: Just like any other dancer, we’re individually great and not-so-great at certain moves, and together we’re great and not-so-great at certain moves. Our private lesson allowed for tailored insight into exactly how our bodies were moving and suggestions specific to our strengths and weaknesses. For instance, one of the greatest challenges we face together is improving our form and posture. Although any teacher in a group lesson would notice this and possibly point it out, during our private lesson, our instructor gave us tips particular to us and observed and gave further feedback as we tried to institute the suggestions right then and there. That level of detail is actually very helpful.
O- Open: With a private lesson you can work on the elements of your dancing that are most important to you. You can work with the instructor to determine areas to focus on, or you can just come with ideas in mind. This is a unique feature to private lessons because obviously in a group class everyone isn’t able to suggest topics and items to cover – and sometimes the teacher has particular curriculum or a plan to follow. In individualized instruction you’re able to work on what you want to. In our lesson we focused lots on bettering our basic/anchor step, whip turns, and form/posture – things that group classes might cover but not in ways that really fit our needs.
M-Manageable: Private lessons can be scheduled for a time when you and the instructor are free, which means no waking up at the crack of dawn for that the 7 AM Salsa class on Saturday or dragging your tired self to a 9:30PM Tango lesson on a Friday night. Plus, the lesson moves at your pace. Want to do the same turn 20 times? Go for it. Want to do 20 turns 1 time each? Sounds good. What I enjoyed was that we could ask questions and receive feedback as we went along without the pressure of cramming in a predefined number of steps, or having to contend with other students asking lots of questions, etc.
E-Exciting: I can only speak for myself here but I was much more excited about our private lesson than any other group style of lesson we’ve done (and we’ve been taking various group lessons for almost 6 months now). Mostly because it meant 1) uninterrupted time with Dan and our teacher, Sherry; 2) time focused on us and our areas for improvement; and 3) time/space to practice.
My only regret was that we hadn’t taken a private lesson sooner, because it rocked!
Thanks so much Sherry for all your help. 🙂 Can’t wait until our next private lesson!
Other dancers out there (partner, ballroom or individual), have you taken private lessons? How did you find the experience?
Thanks for reading 🙂 – S