Question:I’m thinking of starting private classes but I’m not sure with whom.  Is it better to choose a male or female instructor considering I’m a female dancer? I also discovered that you learned by social dancing. When I go out social dancing, I feel like I forgot everything I’ve learned and then I can’t seem to follow the leader, either.

Answer: Private classes are a great way to supplement your learning and move at a faster pace. However, don’t confuse private classes as getting more advanced material.  Sometimes a private involves learning complicated material but most of the time, a good private lesson is about the details that you wouldn’t normally cover in a group class setting.  A good teacher will usually break down your dancing, attend to those details, clean up what you know, and help set a foundation for you to grow further.  Sometimes that means revisiting basics, etc, instead of learning more complicated moves. Don’t be disheartened if this is the case.  Pay attention and try to absorb as much as possible. Remember, the strength of your foundation is going to determine how quickly and how much you can grow. 

Male or Female Instructor?

Whether you should take private classes with a male or female instructor, really depends on what you’re looking to learn. If you are looking for solo work with a very feminine flare, then a female instructor would suit you well.  For partner work and following, a male instructor might be better unless you can find a female that does the role of a leader as well.  Mind you, there are plenty of male instructors with a lot of feminine styling. You’re best bet would be to watch various instructors dance and see what appeals to you most.  You can then approach them and have a quick chat to see if they will be able to meet your needs or if they will be able to assist your growth as a dancer.

Remembering what you learned while social dancing

As for social dancing and forgetting what you learn, well that’s a matter of intention and possibly a lack of memory. I would suggest taking 30 mins before going out, listening to some songs that you like, and doing a quick review of the material you have recently learned. That way it will be fresh in your mind and easier for you to recall when you are social dancing.  If you find it difficult to focus on what you reviewed and following, try to remove all styling and footwork from your dance and focus just on following.  This way your brain has only one purpose and it’ll be easier to focus and master that task.  Once you feel more comfortable, you can start adding more facets to your dancing.  I find that when we focus on styling and footwork we end up thinking more about ourselves and what want to do vs focusing on the leader and what the lead is asking of us.  

When I started dancing, I wanted to do everything all at once but I found that my following suffered the most. So, I focused just on following and when I felt more comfortable with that, I started to layer my dancing. This way, when I try something new, even if it doesn’t work, I can quickly revert to the following my partner instead of losing the entire connection.