Dear Dance Doctor,
Sometimes when I’m in class, the person I’m dancing with will tell me what I’m doing wrong. Sometimes they’re right, but sometimes not. It bothers me and I’m not sure what to say. Signed, Momma Taught Me To Be Nice
Well, first off, the Doctor agrees with Momma. Whenever possible, be nice.
It is extremely important that students not instruct each other. Even very experienced dancers, with the best of intentions, may be giving incorrect information. Even if the information is technically correct, it may not be appropriate for that class level, or what the instructor is trying to achieve in that class.
It’s important to remember we were all beginners at one time. Everyone has different levels of tolerance for correction and criticism…even well-intentioned advice. It is vitally important that we feel successful when we’re starting out. We’re dealing with enough insecurities as it is without receiving criticism that we haven’t asked for.
What’s important is that we’re all trying… not that we’re doing it perfectly.
No matter how good a dancer you may be, it is not your place to instruct another dancer… leading or following! If you are being hurt, it is completely appropriate for you to say to your partner that you are experiencing pain and ask them not to do that particular sequence. In a class setting, you can seek help from the instructor. On the social dance floor, you can bail from the pattern.
If you don’t feel comfortable addressing the person directly, please tell the instructor. I can’t stress this enough. We don’t want to lose a single student because the class is uncomfortable. All our wonderful instructors truly want to make the class environment a great place to come and have fun!
We often solicit feedback from each other, and it’s great to get validation that we’re executing a pattern correctly. Never hesitate to say, “That was great!” after a wonderful turn around the floor with your partner. Just avoid any sentence containing the words, “You need to…” or “You should….”
If you have any questions or comments for the Dance Doctor, please send them to DanceDoctor@austinuptowndance.com.