If I want to push my dancing further, do I stay with a coach that I have been loyal to for many years or do I upgrade to the shiny new coach turning out eye catching competitors?
This is a tricky question. There has to be a reason that you stayed with your existing coach. The reasoning for this has to be assessed. Did you stay because you did not know better? Did you stay because this is who all your friends go to? Did you stay because you were afraid of change? Did you stay because you love the way they coach? Did you stay because they make you feel good about yourself every time you hit the floor?
Change is not an easy thing for most people. It takes us out of our comfort zone. This can cause panic and fear causing the brain to try desperately to put on the brakes and keep you in your regular pattern. Some people thrive on change and enjoy the thrill of it. You have to acknowledge that changing coaches will push you out of your current knowledge base. This is how you grow and you have to be prepared for this. If you are ready for this, it is time to start your search.
First off, let your current coach know that you are seeking an outside opinion on your dancing so that they do not hear it through the dance gossip line that you have been associating with their competition. If you are in a large enough centre, you should have options for coaches. I would start by interviewing them. This can involve a goals conversation as well as an assessment of your current dancing state. You also want to know how much time they have to invest in you. If their schedule is full up and they take you, you will not receive the attention you need and not achieve your goal in switching coaches.
Having someone new assess you will quickly show you whether you are prepared for the change. It will also show you how well you accept criticism from someone else’s view point. You may go through all the coaches in your city and realize that the one you have is your best match. That is okay. If you have not burned bridges with your current coach, you should be able to return to them without issue. You will also likely return to them with new appreciation and they will likely work harder to accelerate your dancing as well because they know you are hungry to grow.
If you do find a coach that seems to be a better match, it is time to get the relationship built. They will want to see that you are committed to learning their methodology. You have to put previous opinions on the movement out of your head so that you can absorb as much as you can from this new coach. You will never lose what you previously invested in yourself. You may actually need a hybrid between the two methodologies in the end. In the end, you will always be a stronger dancer, even if you decide to go back to your original coach.
Take some time to assess where you are at with your dancing. When you started, you had goals. Have you achieved those? What are your goals for the next year? Do you have the right coaches, teachers, and adjuncts in place to get to where you want to go this year? Being a dancer requires a team approach. Make sure you have a solid team working with you to accelerate you toward achieving your goals this year!