“No one’s education is every complete.”
– John Marks Templeton
– John Marks Templeton
When dance students first begin taking dance classes, they are, more than likely, introduced to one dance teacher who will begin to expose them to the world of dance. This teacher can provide the disciplined routine upon which to build a strong dance education. Having one teacher helps foster a student’s basic understanding of dance and establishes a strong foundation from which the student can begin to branch out and grow.
As dancers grow serious about their training, they will begin to realize that different dance educators have different ways of teaching. While the format for a dance class is standard, the material that is presented and how it is presented can differ greatly, depending upon the dance educator’s background. Some dance educators have been performers, some have earned degrees in dance, some have experience in many techniques, and others may have focused in depth on one technique. Some may approach dance from a traditional perspective while others may combine dance science with dance technique to formulate their classes. All of these dance educators have something valuable to offer their students.
Everyone learns differently. Some of us are visual learners and will have great success with a dance educator who demonstrates every combination, some are auditory learners and will excel with teachers who emphasize dance terminology and counts, and others are kinesthetic learners and will perform best with teachers who use a hands on approach and encourage them to boldly try new movement.
While all dance educators must incorporate dance technique, presentational and performing skills, musicality, and proper anatomical instruction in their classes, each individual educator may focus upon one of these categories more than the others. Those with extensive performing experience may emphasize the presentational and performing skills. Educators with a dance science background may spend a good deal of time speaking about how the body works. Teachers who also have a background in music may insist on paying careful attention to musicality throughout the entire class.
Additionally, some dance educators may focus more upon alignment, some may focus more upon turns, some may focus more on jumps, some may focus more upon the technique of the upper body, and some may focus more upon lower body technique. Some teachers may use imagery in class to explain how to perform a step while others may use technical terminology or movement quality descriptions.
It is for these reasons that students who are pursuing advanced dance training should have the opportunity to study with more than one teacher. In doing so, students may develop a more well-rounded approach to dancing. A particular exercise that may have always been a struggle can become clearer when it is approached or described in a new way. Becoming the strongest dancer possible is dependent upon the students’ opportunity to seek out other dance educators and glean as much from each of them as possible.
Dance educators should not feel threatened when their students seek supplementary training but should instead encourage it. When students begin to explore the bigger world of dance, they do so because they are passionate about the artform. The original dance educators get to claim credit for instilling this passion and providing these students with a lifelong gift that is more important than any technical training could ever be.