I think there is nothing as important as picking the right instructor before we start any learning journey. But unfortunately, if we think about the dozens of instructors we get to know from being a child until adulthood, only two or three probably stand out, evidence that good instructors are valuable and scarce.

Learning to dance Salsa is an important decision, and in Toronto, there are a lot of great dance schools, which can make it challenging to choose where to study, so I would like to use my own experience to facilitate and guide your search for a good instructor. Here are the three things I always looked for in my instructor.

One: Patience.

When I joined Toronto Dance Salsa, I realized the importance of patience for whoever was teaching me, as my learning process took longer than average.  So an instructor needs to be patient and make an effort to understand the differences among learning styles.

In my case, I repeated each level twice or more. I kept coming back because my instructors were patient with me. They made sure to meet me as a human and not only as a customer. Patience is underrated but crucial because an instructor or a human who’s constantly rushing you to the next level is making it about themselves, not you. Patience, for me, is the sensitivity of a human being who is willing to meet you, where you’re at, and, step by step, walk with you on that path of dance.

Two: Fun. 

The best lessons are always the ones where you’re having fun. There is no need to be so serious about any craft as pretty much everything can be taught in good spirit. The more enjoyable a lesson is, the more we can absorb and learn. I always look for an instructor who can make me smile. That way, I can deal better with negative talk and insecurity.

Many beginner students feel disconnected from their bodies. For example, they say I have two left feet and need confidence and foundations before they can nail down a right turn or any other move. Therefore, taking a lesson where everything is about doing it right can turn dancing into a rough experience, and you can lose your momentum if you are not in the right place.

Three:  Creative teaching tools. 

Everybody learns in different ways. For instance, some people are visual learners; others absorb new knowledge better if they hear and write. I use analogies in dancing because, based on my experience, they are an effective and fun way to learn.

When I teach my classes, I work hard to use multiple analogies and be as simple as possible. I have to try calisthenics repeatedly as an instructor. My rule of thumb is to teach an eight-year-old or an 88-year-old, and they both should be able to learn and feel confident as they dance. And so, I always think that if a student cannot understand, it’s the instructor’s limited ability to teach it in various ways.

Analogies have been my gateway to bringing more students along for the dance journey. If you attend one of my classes, you will see that instead of explaining how to pivot 30 degrees in technical terms, I use the analogy of ”you’re leaving your house and your door is on your right.” And even a reader, now you already know what I am talking about.

More people can understand a simple explanation than long instructions with technical terms. I can do that too, but especially for my beginner students, I use analogies as we connect something new with our own experiences. Some of my metaphors are weird sometimes, but we laugh at them. I’ll tell you something; my students often tell me that they appreciate that the instructors at TDS are using metaphors and storytelling to explain new moves. Once the idea is clear, we use terms such as pivots and quarter turns. So in the same class, we are flexible and combine creative ways to teach because we know that each person has a unique way to understand the world.

Choosing an instructor may require some research but don’t delay your decision to start dancing for too long. The most important thing to remember is that you need to act when you have a passion.  And for me, my biggest win is you getting enough excitement to start dancing with me or any other instructor. And if your first experience with dance classes was not the best, try again, and more likely, you will make a better choice this time.

I love you guys. I hope I get to be your instructor and get to dance with you.

I can’t wait to welcome you to our big family, have you coming in, week to week, having fun, connecting with new friends, and letting loose to amazing Latin songs. Click here to check our current schedule.

If you have any questions you would like me to answer here are some ways you can contact me: message me on Instagram (torontodanceSalsa), on Twitter (#torontodanceSalsa), on Facebook (Toronto Dance Salsa) or email me at [email protected].