Your Ideal Instructor: Sugar-Coated vs Tough-Love

January 2, 2018

Happy New Year folks! As we set new resolutions and plan for upcoming dance festivals, it’s worth coming back a final time to what to look for in our ideal dance instructor, this time looking at a characteristic they can all be measured by: how tough they are in their lessons.

First, some quick definitions: Your sugar-coated dance instructor isn’t a pushover; they just express things a little more gently, leaving room for your feelings and feedback. The tough-love dance instructor on the other hand, isn’t afraid to give you a verbal thrashing if they think you could pick up the pace.

Obviously, too much of either approach can be disastrous - the REAL question is, what are the advantages of each, and which is best suited for you?

The Sugar-Coated Dance Instructor

For this instructor, making sure you enjoy the process is just as important as getting you to where you want to go. Many students become friends with the sugar-coated dance instructor, because they tend to be more genuinely interested in what’s going on in your life.

Sugar-coated dance instructors take the soft approach with their lessons, delivering compliments and critiques in equal parts. They also excel at noticing if your mood shifts or you’ve had a rough day, adapting the lesson to make it a more positive experience.

You may find you learn a bit more slowly under these instructors, but you may also find you enjoy the experience more too.

The Tough Love Dance Instructor

It’s not that this dance instructor is a drill sergeant (necessarily); it’s just that they’re very focused on helping you achieve your goals in the most effective way possible. And that means not mincing their words when it comes to giving you corrections.

Tough love dance instructors are great at pushing you to improve and grow as a dancer, though you may find you need a thick skin in order to hear the advice. These instructors recognize your potential and encourage persistence and discipline to reach your goals, whether it’s becoming a popular social dancer a world champion.

For these dance instructors, the destination is more important than the journey, and they derive satisfaction from helping you get there.

Simply put, you may want the sugar-coated dance instructor if you have mixed feelings about dance (for example, if you’re shy), or want to enjoy the process more. For those wanting to “get it” faster, with a strong sense of where they want to be as a dancer, the tough love approach may be best.

If you want to make 2018 your “Year of Dance”, check out our own instructors and sign up for lessons here!

About the Author

Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for over 18 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.