Maybe it isn’t you. Maybe you just haven’t found the right teacher yet.
For years, I stayed away from dancing because I believed that I had two left feet, no coordination, and all that jazz, and never questioned it.
I even once had a friend discretely pull me aside during a dance to gently break the news on how bad I was — so you know I’m not lying when I say that I severely sucked.
Last summer, I decided to conquer my fear of the dance floor and start doing ballroom and salsa dancing at Robson Square. The 30 minute lessons were free, the people were strangers, and I figured I had nothing to lose.
And every once in a while, I’d be able to “get” the steps and dance the right moves. It was random, and whether or not a dance went smoothly depended largely on how good the person leading me was.
And then, it all changed…
I started taking formal salsa dance classes at World Dance Co. in March, and suddenly found myself being able to pick up everything. Unless you’ve experienced it yourself, you cannot imagine how satisfying it is to go from being a shitty dancer to actually dancing decently.
After I signed on to their unlimited dance class deal, I went (and am still going) crazy taking every class available. And as long as the main instructor and co-owner Diego Sanchez is teaching the class, I can pick up every dance. With him, I have been taking salsa levels 1, 2, and 3, beginner, intermediate, and advanced bachata, intermediate cumbia, Argentine tango, Zouk, cuban salsa, spinning fundamentals, and maybe even more dance classes that I can’t remember at the moment. I actually took intermediate cumbia without taking the beginner class first and was still able to eventually catch up, because Diego explains and breaks down the moves so well that it’s hard not to learn the moves as long as you show up to the class where he first teaches them.
Okay, maybe it didn’t change completely.
In contrast, I still find it very difficult to learn dances with other instructors, even if I have already learned the dance before.
Yesterday, I wanted to rip out my hair while taking an international ballroom dancing class at the studio with another instructor. It was a samba lesson, and I have danced the samba at Robson Square before. I couldn’t get anything right until the last few minutes when the instructor turned the music on, took me by the hand, and led me through the basic step, the whisk, the samba walk, and the travelling volta. Suddenly, I could samba again.
I realized then and there that the instructor had focused so much on the technicalities of the bounce and the step before teaching the basics that I just could not learn from him. It was too much information at too early a time. I realize now that I had also felt that way with the rumba and cha cha when he was teaching them.
A new meaning to “can’t”
The instructor told me to take the “can’t” out of my vocabulary when I told him I couldn’t get any of the dance.
What I realize I really wanted to say but left uncompleted was that it wasn’t that I couldn’t learn the dance or steps, but that I couldn’t learn from him.
Sometimes, learning and teaching styles are incompatible.
So, if you have had bad dance experiences in the past that make you feel like you will never get dancing, I say try out a few different instructors before beating yourself up.
What’s your dance style?
I am the type of learner who needs to watch AND hear AND do at the same time in order to learn, and Diego is the perfect teacher for my learning style.
Find out what your learning style is, and find a teacher that is able to accommodate it!
Being able to dance is liberating, and I hope you are able to find the teacher/partner/person who is able to unlock the dancer inside of you! 🙂