Your Ideal Instructor: Visual
Dance is a visual experience. A sharp or slow step, a look, a turn of the hips or a quick flick of the arm, conveys everything you need to know about the character of the movement. So, having an instructor with at least some familiarity speaking the language of pictures is a must.
Visual instructors tend to demonstrate what they’d like you to do, and ask you to copy them. Words may sometimes fall short, but you’ll find yourself admiring the beautiful shapes they can make with their bodies… In a non-creepy way, of course.
As the tired phrase goes: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Visual instructors can convey a lot of information in a simple demonstration, so you’ll quickly get a sense of what you’re trying to create in the movement.
These instructors don’t just use visual demonstrations – they also use visual descriptions, like metaphors, to help you grasp difficult concepts, relating them to something you are more familiar with. For example, hip rotation might be described as a figure-8, a pendulum, or even a top-loading washing machine.
What words can explain the awesomeness of a perfectly executed jete, or some sweet “liquids and digits” action? For those of us who really want to capture the is-ness of a dance, visual explanations and demonstrations help us get past that cold rational perception of what’s happening, to the “je ne sais quoi” underneath.
While visual instructors can give you a great overall picture of the look you want to convey, they may struggle to explain the “devil in the details”; those smaller adjustments that will really engage your whole body and make each move effortless.
Also, sometimes we want to feel a dance – and that can be difficult when you’re just copying someone else’s movements. A wise instructor will gradually help students find their own variation on the movement that captures their personality – so long as you’re not supposed to look a certain way for a performance.
Finally, visual instructors sometimes find it tough to stay focused on a single target, because they get distracted by another thing they can fix, and another, and so on. This leaves you with plenty to practice later, but it may be overwhelming if you prefer to tackle one issue at a time.
The verdict? Go with a visual instructor if you need the “big picture”, before you delve in your figures, and if you are good at reproducing what you see with your own body. Many of our classes help you improve the look of your movement – check them out here.
Next up, let’s get a “feel” for our dancing by learning from emotional teachers!
About the Author
Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for over 18 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.