understand that different students react differently to different teachers. One
instructor, who your friends may like, may not be the best for you and vice-versa.
Once you have decided you would like to take classes, we highly recommend you
visit as many instructors as possible, and watch or join at least one class to
see if youre comfortable with the instructor and the learning environment.
1.4.1) How do I find a salsa instructor?
Finding a dance instructor in your city is not always easy. Today most major cities will have a number of
salsa instructors to choose from. If you are in a smaller city you may have more
difficulty. Here are a few methods for locating salsa dance instructors:
Many cities have a web page dedicated to listing salsa
instructors for that region. On the search engine, type "salsa"
and "city name" for your city. This will give you a large and varied
list of instructors but its still up to you to evaluate them. Click here
for a list of salsa city links.
of Mouth: Asking dancers in the clubs about salsa schools. This is a good method because you'll get someone's opinion
in addition to the instructor's
name.However you have to keep in mind that they may not have ever tried anyone
else's class so take the advice with a grain of salt.
Book: Call up dance schools from the phone book (salsa or ballroom) and ask if
they teach salsa classes. This is probably the most time consuming, but you will
be able to ask what styles they teach and what their specialty is.
case there are no salsa instructors in your city, we would recommend finding a
willing partner, and ordering instructional videotapes to learn from. The alternative
is to travel to nearby cities for instruction. This may not be feasible depending
on how far away you are, as it can get expensive and time consuming.
1.4.2) Is the more expensive instructor better?
Price does not determine the quality of an instructor.
Although some instructors who gain a good reputation may match their demand with
an equivalent price, the more expensive instructor is not necessarily better.
Also class length can range from 45 minutes to 2 hours, so pay attention when
you look at the price.
1.4.3) Instructor to
The more individual and personalized attention you get, the better. The amount
of attention you receive in a group lesson can vary greatly. The 1:1 ratio of
a private lesson is ideal but a small class can be just as effective and a lot
cheaper. Some classes are small with a limit on the number of students able to
enroll. Others have as many as 50 students. Just keep in mind that the smaller
the class, the easier it is for instructor to give more individual attention.
classes have multiple instructors and/or volunteers. This improves the ratio in
your favour considerably. These classes may be more expensive, but if you value
personal attention the cost will be worth it.
Male or Female instructor?
Whether you prefer a male or female teacher is really up to you. A female instructor may have more insight for females, and a male instructor may have better insight
for guys, but this is not always the case. A good instructor should understand
both roles, and be able to teach both guys and girls equally well. For specific
things like styling, you may want to choose an instructor of the same sex; but
for everything else, it shouldnt matter (especially at the beginner level).
1.4.5) Is the best dancer also the best teacher?
There are some great dancers who are also great teachers, but this is not always
the case. An instructor's
skill set is very different from that of a dancer's. Teaching requires a fundamental
technical understanding of dancing and human movement. This is gained though experience
and training. However even if a teacher has the required training and experience,
they still require the ability to verbally and visually communicate with the students
at a level they'll understand and learn. These traits are not always present in
a great dancer, so dont assume the best dancer will be the best instructor.
The only way to tell is to take or watch a class and ask their students for their
1.4.6) Are instructors who teach many
different dances better?
who have studied various types of dance for a long time can use this experience
and knowledge in their classes. This experience can definitely improve their teaching
ability. However, some instructors with various dance backgrounds may not have
studied salsa specifically. Although they seem to know salsa, they teach with
a different "style". This is often the case with some ballroom schools
which teach salsa on the side because of its popularity. Many ballroom teachers
can teach salsa well, however a teacher who is a "jack of all trades"
may not be as good as one who is a salsa specialist. This is not a good indicator
of the skill of the instructor as it can go either way; again the best way to
judge is by participating in their class and seeing if that is the style you want
The instructor you choose should hold classes in a venue that is relatively convenient for you
the student. In addition, select a class time that will give you some leeway in
case of traffic or other delays. Make sure you are able to attend on a regular
basis. If you cant commit to a fixed weekly schedule; then try doing a workshop
which only requires a few hours on a specific date. If not, then buy an instructional
video, which allows you to watch and learn at your own pace.
key factor when discussing venue is what type of room the classes are conducted
in. Classes can be held in a variety of locations - dance studios, dance clubs,
gymnasiums, basements or homes. The ideal location will have good ventilation
and lighting, hardwood floors, full-length mirrors, and lots of space. It is possible
for a great instructor to teach at a bad location, however it is important for
you to be comfortable with your learning environment.
It is very important to be comfortable with the instructor and the students around you. A social and fun atmosphere will enhance your learning
experience. Some instructors may not always have control over their class; others
may seem to teach with some form of military training. A fun learning environment
usually means a better learning environment. Also, make sure there is a relatively
even number of guys to girls or ensure that the instructor regularly rotates the
students to ensure everyone gets a turn at trying a new move. Keep in mind it
is rare to have the exact same number of guys and girls. However if there are
20 girls registered and only 5 guys, many girls will not get a partner for the
entire class, even with the instructor rotating partners. You may want to find
a session with more even numbers so you will get more time to learn the step with
an actual partner.
1.4.9) Ask Around!
When deciding which instructor to select, a good approach is to ask some of the veteran dancers in the clubs which instructor they recommend. Note, many dancers are biased to the instructors
that taught them, so also ask why they recommend this particular instructor. Try
to get as many opinions as possible and this will help you to get a good sense
of which instructors are the best or most popular in your city.
We recommend you try many different instructors.
However if you decide to change schools, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Instructors all have different ways of measuring class levels. Some may rank students
as "beginners", "intermediate" or "advanced". Other
schools may use levels "level 1", "level 2", etc. In addition,
"advanced" students from one school may not be at the same level as
"advanced" students from another school. One instructor's syllabus and
rating system is usually quite different from another. This variation will not
make a difference to you unless you switch schools. Most instructors will want
to evaluate your skill level before you join so that you will be placed in the
right level. You may want to choose instructors that you know will also offer
advanced lessons in the future when you progress.
is natural to feel loyal to your first salsa instructor, but try to avoid feeling
like youre "cheating" on your current instructor if you decide
to take classes with someone else. Its okay, and in fact very beneficial
to your dancing to a get as much varied input as possible. You also dont
have to leave your existing school. If youre happy with it you may just
want to supplement their classes with a class or workshop from another instructor
every now and then.
1.4.11) Skills of a dance
A dance instructor must have excellent understanding of the material he/she is teaching. In the case
of Salsa, this includes being able to teach both the mens and woman's steps.
In addition to the steps, additional details such as the timing of leading and
following or weight transfer should be well understood by the instructor. An experienced
instructor will be able to warn you about common problems students have with each
step and how to prevent them.
the instructor knows all this, he/she is required to be able to successfully communicate
this information to the student. This is probably the most important skill of
a good instructor. Just watching the instructor perform a specific step over and
over is not enough for the average student. The instructor should be able to break
down the step, and verbally explain each segment of the pattern. They should be
able to pinpoint the problems the students are encountering and help them through
it using explanations, examples and demonstration. A good instructor should be
approachable and open to answering your questions.
just like a coach, an instructor should be able to encourage the students and
be understanding. A caring and fun class atmosphere will greatly enhance the learning
experience and will most likely bring the student back.
There are different types of classes, and different levels. Higher level classes
are purposely not broken down as much as beginner classes. So make sure youre
in the right class by doing a placement evaluation with the instructor
1.4.12) Evaluating an Instructor's Skill
As a beginner student it is very hard to evaluate how good an instructor is
at teaching. Remember we're evaluating their teaching skills, not dancing
skills. You can learn a lot about the instructor through observation even if you
are new to dancing:
How well does the instructor break down the steps? Is it too fast for you? Too
At the end of the classes, did most of the students learn what the instructor
tried to teach? Did you? If most of the students have a look of confusion at the
end of the class, the instructor most likely did not adapt to the class level,
or did not break down the steps well enough.
Did the instructor cover both the leaders and followers parts thoroughly? Were student questions
answered well? Did the instructor even ask for questions and/or feedback?
A great way to judge an instructor is by his/her students. Can the instructor's
advanced students dance well? Can they dance with students not from the same dance
addition to these observations, any professional instructor would be glad to answer
questions you may have. The following is a list of sample questions you should
ask your potential instructor.
Their dance/salsa experience.
(2) Length of time they have been teaching.
(3) Ask to explain the style they teach and if it is the same style that is danced
in the clubs.
highly recommend that you try a few different instructors.
You will notice different teaching styles. One is not necessarily better than
another, but you may have a favorite from which you learn the most. The most important
questions to ask yourself after the class are; Were you happy with the lesson?
Did you learn something new? Did you enjoy the lesson? If the answers are yes,
then youve succeeded in finding a good instructor for you.
from tosalsa.com's guide to Salsa)