For every style of dancing, whether it’s jazz, ballet, rumba or even pole dancing, there is a willing and experienced dance teacher to help you to learn to dance.

You may think that you have no rhythm. You may even feel embarrassed at parties, but if you are willing to learn, you can really overcome these, as well as any other, fears.

The options are endless; the real trick is finding the dance teacher that is just right for you, and in this article, we aim to show you how to do that.

Where to Find the Perfect Dance Teacher?

One of the things that can dampen the enthusiasm of any new dance student is to find once they have committed to their dance classes that the teacher is simply not right for them. Perhaps their method of teaching or musical repertoire is not what the student expected. There could be so many reasons. The way to avoid this is to find out if the dance school, academy, or private tutor offers their first session for free.

A trial dance tutorial will give you the opportunity to see the teacher’s style and establish whether there is potentially a good rapport between the two of you or not. It is also a good opportunity to ask the right questions, perhaps observe them teaching others how to learn to dance or talk to their other students.

In South Africa, there are various places to take dance classes:

  • Private dance tutors
  • Primary schools
  • High schools
  • Private dance studios
  • Professional dance academies
  • Universities

A few things need to be considered when selecting both a dance teacher and the way you would like to learn to dance. The atmosphere needs to be right for you, or your child. Some students prefer relaxed and informal surroundings, while others dream of the serious, disciplined approach taken by some of the more highly regarded dance academies that would lead them onto university or a full-time dancing career.

ballet dancer doing the splits
If your goal is to become a professional dancer, you should consider lessons at a dance academy.⎢Source: Unsplash

Obviously the key to your decision is to decide exactly what your favourite style of dancing is before committing to dance classes.

Searching for a dance teacher or dance class in South Africa is quite easy. Apart from the community noticeboards and social media platforms, there are also specialist tutor platforms that host dance teachers from all over the country and abroad.

So whether you are in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein or anywhere else in South Africa, there’s a good chance that a dance teacher for your favourite style is near you.

Tips for Choosing a Dance Teacher Based on Their Style

Most of the bigger dance studios, schools, and dance academies generally start teaching their students how to dance using more classical dance styles like ballet and jazz.

However, if you wanted to learn to dance other types of dancing styles, you could consider a dance tutorial with more than one dance teacher. This is really helpful, especially as many private teachers offer their introductory session for free.

In South Africa today, the list of dance styles is endless and sometimes certain types are more in fashion than others. Some of the popular options at your disposal could include the following:

  • African
  • Gumboot
  • Ballet
  • Jazz
  • Tango
  • Cuban
  • Greek
  • Zumba
  • Spanish
  • Oriental
  • Tap
  • Swing
  • Foxtrot
  • Waltz
  • Hip Hop
  • Breakdance

If you are thinking of something that is not on this list, don’t worry, there is many a dance tutorial available where a teacher will teach you how to dance according to a rare genre or style. So whether that’s Bollywood dancing, Krumping, Aerial Silks, Awakening Dance or Latin, do your research and ask questions. You will also find that many dance classes are able to combine styles, which is really fun.

Regardless of your level, whether you are a beginner, intermediate or more experienced dancer, there is a dance teacher for you. In fact, with technology opening up the world to us, you could search online to find a private tutor to teach you how to learn to dance at home or even via webcam!

Private Dance Classes at Home or Online

Imagine being able to enjoy learning how to dance with an experienced and qualified dance teacher without leaving the comfort of your home?

This is possible when searching for dance classes on platforms like Superprof where the cost of a private dance tutorial can start from as low as R150 an hour depending on the style of dance.

Furthermore, on a platform like this, if there are not tutors for your selected dance style near you, it provides options for learning from a skilled tutor from anywhere in the world – all you need is an internet connection and a webcam.

Private dance lessons are usually more affordable than dance academies and studios and there are also several important benefits to consider. There is flexibility in terms of classes, cancellations, and rescheduling. Also, you might be able to request how to dance specific techniques within a style and have input into the musical repertoire.

Depending on your budget, you could get instruction on a more regular basis than in a group class. You could concentrate on areas and techniques where you are struggling to learn to dance without holding up a group.

All this, as well as the fact that you could ask your tutor to give you exercises to practise between lessons, will give your dance journey much depth and make it very personal to you.

Apart from online tutoring websites like Superprof, there are other places for you to search for lessons on how to learn to dance. Consider these:

  • Ads in the local press
  • Community notice boards, like schools, churches and shopping centres
  • Word of mouth
  • Social media platforms.

Private tutoring is an excellent option when considering dance classes and it can work for students of any age or level. Dance tutorials are even suitable for couples or small groups too.

Many couples choose to learn to dance a specific dance routine together to impress their guests with their first dance on their wedding day. When looking for a dance teacher to help here, you will find that most of them are well-acquainted with this request and are only too happy to help you shine on your big day.

couples dancing
Group dance classes can help you meet like-minded people. ⎢Source: Unsplash

Remember if you can’t find someone nearby, taking a lesson via Skype, from a teacher anywhere in the world could be a really convenient way to learn your special routine without even having to leave the house.

Choosing a Dance Teacher According to Your Level

Like most things that require skill and nurturing, learning how to dance takes determination, effort, and practise. Don’t make the mistake of trying to rush your learning by starting at a level that is actually above your ability. This will waste your time, money and only discourage you.

A skilled tutor will easily be able to assess your level of ability in your first lesson. Allow the tutor to guide you through a programme that will have you progressing in a way that will be fun and rewarding.

Dance classes generally fall into three main categories:

  • A beginners dance tutorial
  • An intermediate dancer’s tutorial
  • Advanced dance tutorials.

Certain dance teachers specialise in certain levels and they should make this clear to you during your research stage.

However, there are tutors who will teach you how to dance at any level which means that you could progress with them over time.

Make sure that you make your personal dance goals very clear to your potential tutor to make sure that they can meet all your requirements. Perhaps your intention is to take dancing very seriously and even ultimately make it a career. Maybe you just want to learn a certain fashionable style for extra confidence.

The more you can explain about yourself and your dance class goals, the more likely it is that you will match up with the right tutor just for you.

Different Types of Dance Tutors: The Pros and Cons

Learning how to dance can feel like a very personal experience, for this reason, it’s important to feel completely at ease in your tutor’s space. This can simply be a personality issue, but it is important.

Here are a few other things to look out for in your introductory session:

  • Teaching style
  • Appropriate choreography for the level of student
  • Patience and care
  • A good, simple articulation of dance steps
  • Does one feel motivated in their company?
  • Is there respect for the student's limits or ability?
  • Knowledge of music
  • Creativity and improvisation
  • The use of additional resources and materials.
professional dancing couple
The right dance teacher will make your lessons much more enjoyable. ⎢Source: Unsplash

On the converse, here are a few things you would not like to see from a potential tutor:

  • Failure to adapt to the student’s level
  • Not taking the students musical preferences into account
  • Choreography that is too complex or difficult
  • A failure to warm up sufficiently
  • Generic teaching that is not adapted to the student
  • Offering basic tutorials for advanced students.

As a student, you have the right to try out a few tutors to make sure you have found the best one, because not only is a dance tutorial a financial investment, but it should also be invigorating and enjoyable.

Hire a Dance Teacher Based on Their Qualifications and Experience

Like your ability, dance teachers come at various levels of experience, qualification and even fame!

All of these factors will influence the cost of your dance tutorial. Do remember as you search that, just because someone is hugely accomplished at what they do, it doesn’t make them a good teacher. And vice versa.

Ask questions and get referrals. If dancing is going to be a career, you will need a teacher with serious credentials like a degree.

“Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and dance.” Oprah Winfrey

In the end, like most things in life, a lot will depend on your budget, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find an amazing dance student who is not yet fully qualified themselves to get you on the road of learning how to dance with flair and joy.  

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Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.