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Why does the world seem different when we learn to dance?

Posted 4/8/2019

By Francisco De La Calleja

         As a dance instructor I have heard many times over the years countless variations of: “You have changed my world!” and “You have changed the way I see my life!” from grateful students that have discovered their passion for dancing through my classes.

         And even though no two students begin taking lessons for the same reasons or with the same motivation and not two students go through the same learning process, their comments after some time all converge towards those two same ideas: Neither life, nor the world seem the same after dance lessons.

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A patient dance teacher? Say it isn't so!

Posted 3/14/2019

By Francisco De La Calleja

    “We are going to try lessons with him, he’s a great dancer and we were told by a friend that he is a very patient teacher...”

    Whenever I hear words like those, whether I know the students or the instructor in question, my very first reflex is to say: “If you want to enjoy dancing and taking lessons, please stay away from patient teachers!”

    This may seem strange, given that patience is a quality that most students would expect from a dance teacher.

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Talent is optional

Posted 1/23/2019

By Francisco De la Calleja


    I am often asked by students at the beginning of a class what it takes to become a good dancer. The answer is a very short list: To become a good dancer you need a clear objective, a competent teacher and time.

    People are often surprised by what is not on the list. They expect things like rhythm, coordination, a musical ear, a good partner and such to be essential to a dancer’s success. But what surprises them the most by its absence from the list is the concept of talent. They always ask about it, as if I had somehow overlooked a vital cog in the success machine.

    My answer to that is that in my classes, talent as most people understand it is optional. In fact, I usually add, I personally do not even believe in its existence!

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Do I regret spending money on salsa?

Posted 11/27/2018

By guest blogger Nikka Jonesy

 I have been taking Salsa, Bachata and Merengue classes with my husband under the guidance of our teacher Francisco for three years now and recently a friend from work asked me if I regret spending so much money on Latin dancing.

    To be honest, up to that point  I had not given much thought to the effect of my Latin dance lifestyle on my budget since neither I nor my little family lack any necessities but the question was fair. So last night, my husband and I sat down with a calculator to work it all out.

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How long should a private lesson be?

Posted 10/31/2018

By Francisco De La Calleja        


    I am often asked what is the optimal duration of a private lesson, either for a single individual or for a couple.

    There are some instructors who claim that a private lesson of less than two hours is basically a waste of time, effort and money. According to them, at least two hours are needed to supervise the repetition of exercises designed to train the muscle memory necessary to execute whatever new movement is introduced during class.

    These instructors stand in stark contrast with the overwhelming majority of instructors in our industry, who work with the quick and expedient forty-five minute to one hour lesson format. In this case the lesson is quickly over and the teacher is certain to remind the student to go practice before their next lesson. The usually recommended amount of practice is three hours of social dancing or in-front-of-a-mirror drill for every hour of instruction.

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Say hello to frustration!

Posted 10/31/2018

By Francisco De La Calleja

    Have you ever heard yourself say “I hate feeling frustrated”? And honestly, who doesn’t? As we journey through the experience of dancing, all of us, students, performers, choreographers, competitors, judges, teachers and even teacher trainers risk feeling frustration.

      Sooner or later you will feel the burn of frustration at the difficulties encountered on the road to your dreams. But here is the catch: Frustration is a good thing. It can develop into positive energy if you understand it. And, no matter if you are at beginner or professional level, you've better learn what it is all about. Because frustration can become full-blown hardship if you misunderstand it. And hardship will zap the joy out of learning, improving and enjoying your dancing.

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Why don't you teach any Bootcamps?

Posted 10/23/2018

By Francisco De La Calleja


    I am often asked why I don't teach any dance "boot camps". The fashion these days is for dance instructors to stick the boot camp label on everything they teach, usually followed by one of these tag lines:

Get out of your comfort zone!

No pain, no gain!

Challenge your learning abilities

Have you got what it takes?

Take your dancing to the next level!

 

    The boot camp expression has obviously become a marketing gimmick. Teachers do this because it sells. And it sells because we live in a competitive society where if something sounds hard and difficult, most people assume it has better value. But sadly, most teachers and students have a cloudy understanding, at best, of what a real boot camp’s purpose is.

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Things you should know when you ask me to dance

Posted 10/13/2018

By guest blogger Nikka Jonesy

    If you are new (or not so new) to latin dancing, you have taken a few lessons to get an idea of the basic moves and feel ready to venture into the dance floor, here is some advice for you.

    There are a few things you should know, regardless of your technical level of dance, to successfully approach a girl at a Latin dance club or social to ask for a dance and to make such a good impression that she will keep you on her “guys I have to dance with list”.

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Are you aware of the side effects of latin dancing?

Posted 9/24/2018

By Francisco De La Calleja

 

    It all began quite innocently. Fun loving Canadians vacationing in the Mexico and the Caribbean came back infected with a strange array of tropical viruses. No, not Malaria or Zika but something more insidious: Merengue, Bachata and especially, Salsa. These happy-go-lucky tourists inadvertently served as pathogens and soon they had spread their affliction even to those who had never travelled down south and today we are facing a pandemic. It is called Latin dancing.

 

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