Anya Brodech is a professional salsa, ballroom, and latin dance teacher and choreographer in Oakland. She loves spreading the joy of dance.
1, You Need to Know How to Dance Before You Can Sign Up for Dance Lessons
You would be surprised how many prospective students will contact me to find out if they can sign up for dance lessons without any previous dance experience.
The good news about dance lessons is that you can learn how to dance from scratch, with no prior dance knowledge whatsoever! The only time you need to know how to dance already is if you are signing up for intermediate or advanced dance classes, or if you want to audition for a performance/showcase/competition dance team.
Just think of dance lessons as school, but for dance. Anyone can go, and the point of going is to learn something.
2. Only Certain People Can Become Dancers
Anyone can become a dancer—it's just a matter of practice. No one is born knowing how to dance; it's something that we discover and learn as we make our way through life. Some people grow up in households or families where dancing is a regular part of life and there is always music playing, especially if they have parents who are dancers. In addition, some people take dance classes as children, which helps introduce them to it at an early age so it becomes a part of their life as your grow up.
I will admit that everyone has a natural "talent" for something. I'm sure you've met people that were really good at accounting, organizing, running, cooking, or painting, and it just looked so easy for them. But this doesn't mean that they didn't have to put in some work in order to get where they are today.
Yes, being "talented" means you might start out a few paces ahead of everybody else, but it doesn't mean that you never have to practice or work at it in order to stay ahead and make progress. Over time, those initial differences will even-out and you'll be just the same as everybody else.
I've had certain students that were really "good" dancers to start out with and others that could not get the basics to save their life,but over time, and with practice and dedication, they were able to catch up to the "good" dancers, learn the same advanced steps, and become just as "good." It's not a question of can but when!
3. I Need a Partner In Order to Take Dance Lessons
Yes, you dance with a partner; but the great news is that one will be provided for you if you sign up for a dance class or private lesson. During group classes, you change partners and rotate frequently, so you dance with everyone in the room. If you take private lessons, then you dance with your teacher during your lesson.
The only exception is if you are doing a special couples-only class, because you are doing more advanced/special moves, or it is intended to be a romantic/date night kind of class, which studios do sometimes. Fortunately, this is usually listed in the class description.
4. I Don't Have Time to Take Dance Lessons
If you have time to sit around at home watching tv weeknights, go out shopping weekend afternoons, and party every Friday night, then you've got time to take dance lessons!
It's not a question of time, but rather priority. For some people, it seems like they have no time because they spend a lot of their time doing things that are unnecessary and don't actually add anything to their life. If you "don't have time", I highly recommend reading Stephen Covey's time-management book, "First Things First" and doing the 4-Quadrants exercise to assess what is really going on in your life.
The things I mentioned earlier are all excuses not to take dance lessons. You can DVR the big game or new episode of whatever show to watch later, and come for a dance lesson, instead. Rather than going out Friday night and staying up super late, you can go to bed early so you can take a Saturday morning dance lesson, instead. And weekend afternoons, when you're hitting up the outlet mall buying more things you don't need, you could be going to a dance lesson.
Many dance studios offer morning, afternoons, and evening lessons and classes during the week as well as on weekends. Some teachers will even given classes at 8am or 10pm if you make a special request. Just call and ask and I'm sure you can find a way to make it work if you really want to.
6. I Can't Afford Dance Lessons
If you can afford vacations, new clothes, $100 Nike shoes, an $800 smart phone, drinks with your friends, and eating out; then you can afford dance lessons.
Just like with time, it's a matter of priority. If you do any of the things listed above, or similar, you've got money to spend. And I'm not saying that you have to give up everything, but you can reallocate some of those "pleasurable" expenditures to dance lessons. So instead of eating out every weekend or going shopping, cut back a little bit and you'll suddenly find that you have an extra $100, $200, $300+ (depending on your lifestyle) that you can use towards dance lessons or classes instead.
If you're truly on a budget with financial constraints for whatever reason, you can opt for group classes which usually run for $10-15 a class. Many dance studios will you give you steep discounts if you sign up for multiple group classes or a class-pass so you can still learn how to dance.
6. I Want to Wait Until I'm "Ready"
I've had a lot of prospective students contact me saying that they're interested in dance lessons, but want to wait until they're "ready." Honestly, I have no idea what that means other than the fact that you want to learn how to dance but are too chicken to actually do it.
If you are feeling depressed or sad because of "stuff" going on in your life, I recommend taking dance lessons as a way to cheer yourself up and get out of the house and be around other people, doing something fun.
Obviously, if you just got out of a divorce/breakup, major illness, death in the family, move to a new city, or other major life change-then yes, I can understand how you might need time to recuperate before starting lessons so you can be emotionally and mentally ready to start a new chapter in your life.
But don't wait too long, because life will get in the way and you'll never end up taking dance lessons. The best time to start dancing is now!
7. I Have to Learn "Fancy" Stuff and Compete
You can sign up for dance lessons to learn just the basics, without ever going on "Dancing with the Stars." When you sign up, you're going to learn the easy stuff first, and then the more "fancy" stuff down the road. It's up to you how far you want to go with your dance lessons and where you want to use your dancing. There is no requirement for you to compete or perform anywhere unless you absolutely want to do it.
I've had students who've taken private lessons for years now and become really good dancers in multiple styles, but only dance at nightclubs and parties and have never competed or performed - and that's totally fine.
Once again, it's up to you how simple or fancy you want your dancing to be, and what to use your lessons/dancing for.
I hope that this article has helped dispel some of the notions you may have had in your head about dance lessons and that you are ready to sign up!
© 2018 Anya Brodech