Who Is Right?

When teaching dance, I am often asked if what some other teacher said about a way to do a certain move is correct. I always find this an awkward communication because the person asking is usually looking to find fault in someone who taught them previously. I do not believe that there is a 100% right way to do each movement in dance. This seems to be a shocking answer when I give it.

How can it be that there is not a 100% correct way of doing something? Let us look at that. How many bodies are designed exactly the same way? None. How many people learn in exactly the same manner? None. How many people have learned from the exact same combination of teachers? Once you have been around the dance block for a while, not very many.

There is something we have to understand. There are different ways to accomplish good results. Each teacher will have a different way of teaching something. Each teacher will have a different background of knowledge. Each teacher will have a different understanding. Each teacher will have a different way of conveying information. The same thing applies to each student.

Within each genre of dance in my community, there are multiple schools of thought from multiple professionals who have taken the lead in their genre. My advice to those asking the awkward question of who is right is to find the teacher who helps you to dance in a way that feels and looks best for you. The person who may be regarded as the top teacher in your community may not make any sense to you. They may have a huge following of students who get what they are trying to convey, but that may not apply to you. That is okay.

Your job as a student is to learn. One thing you have to learn is who is best suited to teach you. If you find a teacher offends you every time you learn from them, you will not be comfortable attending studies with them. If you find a teacher who is asking your body to do something that you cannot do and is putting you at risk for injury as they are not respecting your boundaries, you will be tight when you are trying to dance because your body will go into a protective mode.  If you find a teacher who does not communicate with language at the level you understand, you will feel unintelligent.

Finding the right mix in a teacher is harder than you might think. We get attached to our first teachers and it can be difficult to try others. In divided communities where some teachers preach they are right and everyone else is wrong, it can make you feel like you are cheating on your teacher by visiting another’s class. The best teachers I know give their students freedom. They are confident that they will attract those that benefit from their services. I want to teach and learn with those with whom I have synergy. Though dance at higher levels is an investment of work, it is supposed to be enjoyable. Evaluate how you feel in the classes you take. Take a few classes with other teachers in your genre. You might be surprised at how wonderful someone else’s approach is for you and see there is more than one right way.

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