Private Classes - why as an adult recreational dancer might you go down this route ?

About six weeks ago I wrote a post about starting private classes, that was fairly scant on the details of it all, so I thought I'd write a general post about private classes and the adult recreational dancer.  

the WHAT!

I'm going to start from first principles, so apologies if this seems really dumb, but I'm writing this so it's accessible for someone who has very little, if any, dance experience as well as  for the adult dancer who has  reached a progression plateau and can't find their way to progress with their current classes. 

Fundamentally a Private class is where you alone or a small group (perhaps up to four of you) of dancers at a similar level - work with a teacher to develop your dancing, whether that is working to a syllabus or just to other agreed aims... 

From that you can see the two main benefits are readily apparent;

1. You have more control over class content and direction as you are setting the direction and speed of travel in partnership with your teacher.

2. You are going to get  a lot more, in both quantity and focus of, correction and attention than in a regular class, especially if your regular classes are busy ones with lots of dancers in them. 

the HOW and (how much?) 

Obviously this comes at a cost... how much of a cost depends on your teacher and their circumstances... Outside London somewhere between 30 and 50 GBP per hour is a ball park figure for an hours class with a properly qualified teacher.

If a teacher has their own premises or is a regular user of a multi-use building, then they are probably likely to have times that they can accommodate private classes, a relatively small studio can be more than adequate for a private lesson except when it comes to practicing and polishing centre work with travel for exams and variations whether for exam, competition or performance.

If they don't and you are having to pay full whack studio hire rates this can add-up to quite a bit of an expense, however, all may not be lost if you are somewhere where there is regular 'stand-by space' availability and you and your teacher have a degree of flexibility on time and location then studio hire may only be a few quid an hour, but you run the risk of not being able to find a studio when you can both get together. 

When do you want your class? weekday day times or early / late in the day are probably going to be easier, as after school, early evenings and Saturday mornings  are likely to be taken up with group classes if the teacher runs / teaches at a conventional dance school or uses studio space at that kind of venue. 

Then there is the aspect, especially in that there London, that there are some really quite famous and highly respected teachers who teach open classes and their hourly rate may well reflect what they bill themselves out at to commercial productions and/or 'top ten' Companies... (e.g. up to 100 gbp/ hour)

But WHY? 

The fundamental point of having private lessons is to make progress that you can't make or are making very slowly in ordinary group classes... It can also be to 'tune up' the basics, counter bad habits and/or fill in the gaps in your  vocabulary... For adults it can also sometimes be the  way in which you can access syllabus classes and take exams especially if your daily / weekly diary is such that you cannot commit to a termly class - or simply because there are no syllabus classes at your level which accept adult students  ( which can be a problem even at grade 6 or 7 and Intermediate VGE level)

All three of those reasons will be familiar frustrations to many adult recreational dancers.

Tuning up your basics is really important for a whole raft of reasons... probably worth a post all on it's own... 

Countering bad habits, to my mind there are two main ways a dancer gets bad habits 

1. Not getting corrected enough and developing bad habits through ignorance 
2. Being taught badly and developing the bad habits because the teaching is sub-par.

The first is particularly prevalent in those of us who started taking class as adults, especially unless / until you start exploring taking grades / vocational exams - the typical 'beginner' class for adult dancers often glosses over some essentials of alignment, posture and core activation in favour of getting progression to a point  quicker...  however when making the transition to Pointe work, Double pirouettes and the like these deficiencies soon make themselves known.

The Second is not something I have experienced myself, fortunately, but rest assured it does exist - as some of my teachers will attest with tales of what they have seen with other students and the work they have had to do to reteach and correct  these bad habits. It is very worthwhile trying to find out about a teacher what their background is, what qualifications they hold both as a dancer and as a teacher, the greatest problems here come with the beginner (adult) or as a none dancing parent of child who wants to start taking class, as they may know no better.  


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