Finding the Right Ballroom Dancing Classes For You

  • Shows like “So Your Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing with the Stars” reflect ballroom dancing’s re-emergence as a popular American pastime. Most communities have a varied assortment of studios and dance halls, which leaves new dancers with the quandary – where is the best place to learn how to dance?

    The answer to this question is a personal one. Other than obvious issues (qualified instructors, safe environment, encouraging atmosphere) there aren’t any clearly defined characteristics that make one choice better than the rest. The difference rests in what works the best for you. Therefore, before making any commitments to a dance studio, you need to ask yourself a few basic questions.

    1.    Why do you dance?

    Why do you dance? Everyone is different. Do you like the exercise? Are you trying to meet friends or members of the opposite sex? Maybe you want a fun, healthy activity to enjoy with your spouse. Perhaps you have an important event coming up – a wedding or a reunion – and you want to be able to show off some moves. Maybe dancing relieves stress and brightens your mood. Some people learn ballroom dancing because, like athletes, they are determined to compete. Others are moved by the art form itself and its means of self expression.

    If you are interested in competing, you’ll want a school with exceptional instructors, a thorough syllabus, and the ability to push you to a high skill level. If you’re looking to spice up your social life, a dance hall offering a more casual “mingling” atmosphere would be a better choice. If you want to learn ballroom dancing in order to overcome a painful shyness, small class size is important, or you  may even prefer private instruction. Look closely at what motivates you. No matter what kind of experience or outcome you desire, there will be a great place for you to learn how to ballroom dance!

    2.    How Much Money are Your Willing to Spend?

    Think in terms of monthly cost and don’t forget to factor in a good pair of dancing shoes, which will run about $100. If you’re serious about competing, you want a studio with classes for different skill levels in a single dance form. You also want to be in class at least three times per week. Look for schools with student competitors. Depending on the school and on your geographical region, group dance classes can cost anywhere from $10 - $25 per hour. Discounts may apply when buying dance classes in bulk. Semi-private and private lessons cost anywhere from $40 -$75 or more.  Some dance halls offer monthly, quarterly, and yearly memberships where, for a flat fee you, can dance as much as you want. Community centers offer lessons and dance nights for free. Continuing education sessions, although sometimes crowded, can also be an economical way to work some dancing into your life.

    Also consider your schedule and how much you want to commit your time. Some dance halls let students “drop in” on classes. Some also let you buy so many hours worth of classes and you can take whichever classes you like whenever they’re offered.

    Consider your financial situation and what you want to get out of your dance lessons and you should be able to come to a rough monthly figure. This figure will help you determine the hall or studio that’s right for you.

    3.    Know Your Nature

    Some people dance for the pure fun of it. They would have fun dancing anywhere and with any type of partner. They are relaxed and not very concerned with exact form or little mistakes here and there. Then there are people who want to deliver their very best no matter in every activity they pursue. They strive for perfection and work to continually improve their abilities. These types of people tend to be competitive both with themselves and others and frequently excel in career and hobby alike. Most of us fall somewhere in between these two general types, but we usually fall closer to one or the other. How important is serious, structured dance training? How important is it for you to master a flawless waltz? How important is it that your talents are recognized by others?

    Visit and ASK!

    The answers to these questions will help you to determine what type of dance facility to pursue, but of these types – community center, dance hall, studio – you’ll likely have multiple options. The best way to evaluate each is to visit facilities in person. Ask questions of the staff and the students. What do they value? Great technique? Having fun? Competing? Some dance studios have a real family vibe, similar to members of the same club. Others feel more like a business, with unexpected fees and a pressure to take more classes. An in-person visit is by far the best way to determine if you’ll be happy there. Your questions should cover costs, types of dance lessons (private, group, etc…), recommended shoes / attire, outside functions, competition, floor time (time for students to use the studio to practice), and the training/accomplishments of instructors.

    Drop in on as many places as are geographically feasible. When you find the right space for you, you’ll know!