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The Use of Constructive Criticism in Dance Education

By Grace Badillo
Dancing With Grace Productions, Inc.

When beginning any type of dance lessons there is a certain level of anxiety a person might feel when trying something new. Recently I took a Waltz lesson for the first time and wanted to do well so badly that I felt more anxious than ever! When we are learning a new dance, whether it be Waltz, Salsa, Foxtrot, Tango, Swing, Hand Dancing or Bachata we must first understand one important fact:

You are in a learning environment, thus expected to make mistakes,
expected to try and try again and have fun with it.

An instructor's job is to nurture you and teach the class the fundamentals to get you started. As the class moves along a good instructor can use constructive criticism to help you develop into a confident dancer. If you are anxious already you can easily become defensive when hearing this from your instructor, but don't fret! Constructive criticism is a helpful tool that instructors use to encourage growth. It should not be given in malice. As with all criticism, take the time to evaluate it, thank the person for their help, and determine whether it is applicable to you. Not all criticism is correct, even from instructors, but it is your job to determine the value of their critique. You can also ask the instructor to give you more detail about their criticism after class. Also remember that "reacting" too quickly to critique and taking offense is just a waste of energy. Nobody is perfect (except God of course!). By using criticisms to your advantage you can improve much faster. Try understanding that a good instructor's intention should be to be helpful and keep you in a constant state of movement and creative thinking. Just remember, that if the instructor or assistant instructor didn't care, they wouldn't give you anything to work on or fix

So worry not and take no offense. Dance isn't meant to make you feel bad, sad, moody, angry or anxious; this is actually the baggage we may carry because we expect too much from ourselves sometimes. It's okay not to be perfect. It's okay not to look like a professional. It's also okay to be told you have things to work on and not get it for a year or more! It's okay to lose the beat and find it again; this is quite the common occurrence when learning dance.

You are not alone! Hearing constructive criticism applies to all types of dancers, both professional & student. True professionals are in a constant state of learning & are not only open to constructive criticism but ask for it from their team & their students. Anyone who has been to more than a few of our classes has heard us ask for your opinions & emails with their constructive criticism on how we can improve as instructors. Our DWG team is here to let you all know that it is never our intent to hurt your feelings when we train, but to exhort you & help you grow into a great dancer. So the next time you hear constructive criticism from any instructor, listen to it and let the offense you are feeling just be a "feeling". A great thing about being human is that you don't have to let your "feelings" control your actions! How many times have we heard something, reacted immediately, and wished we hadn't reacted that way after the fact? Those darn "fickle feelings" can make a mess of things!

Learning takes a patient spirit and a heart that is open to growing beyond your own vanity into the dancer of your dreams.

Pass it on!


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