General Dance Discussion > Gripe: Self-appointed teachers

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by jennyisdancing, Nov 8, 2007.

  1. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    I have a little gripe that goes beyond the usual complaint about people who try to teach you on the dance floor.

    There's a guy in one of my classes who is a self-appointed 'expert' :rolleyes:. He corrected me in class, as if he was the teacher. Very common annoyance - but this guy goes even farther.

    When we chatted after class, this fellow told me he's "working with" a couple of people in some practice sessions that he has arranged, and he offered for me to join in. He said this with some authority, so right away I asked him "oh, are you a teacher?" "Well, no..." was his answer. "What kind of training do you have?" "Well, I've been dancing for four years..." Also he said he wanted to "give back to the dance community." Um - give back? I was thinking, who is he, Mikhail Baryshnikov? :p
    (Note: I've been dancing for many more years than this guy and would never presume myself as someone in the position to 'give back'.)

    This fellow is actually a decent dancer but what an attitude! I don't mind at all if someone makes friendly suggestions about my dancing and I can do the same. But this guy is just a patronizing putz IMO. I can handle jerks all right, but what really bugs me is that the self-appointed 'teachers' are disrespecting the real, experienced, and well-trained dance teachers who deserve to be appreciated (and paid) for their expertise. Is there anything that can be done?
  2. lil glam gal

    lil glam gal New Member

    i know exactly what you mean. When I was younger at my last dance school a girl used to think that she was better than everyone else and started criticizing everyone else's dancing when she had only been going a FEW MONTHS!
  3. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    If he is patronizing, that is your perception. He honestly thinks he is helping. If you don't want his help then simply say no thanks.

    Most people that go to him will learn that you get what you pay for... And if you take free "lessons" from someone that has only been dancing a short while, with no teacher training, then what you are getting is bubpkiss.

    If you watch the turnover rate I assume it is pretty high, most people figure out the gig and go looking for something better. Those that actually stay, obviously like it and there is no harm, the system is working for them.
  4. Me

    Me New Member

    'Practice' is one thing. 'Working with' implies instruction. I'd imagine the studio owner wouldn't be too pleased to learn that one of the students is soliciting other students in his/her studio about studying outside of the studio...

  5. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    It is not up to the studio owner what the students do outside the studio.
  6. Me

    Me New Member

    (clarification) I'm talking about solicitation while in the studio.

    If he ran into her at Wal*Mart, well... that's different, isn't it?
  7. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    That's what I did.

    I don't know if it's working. I think these self-appointed folks often teach bad habits or poor technique to their hapless 'students'. I wouldn't say there's no harm since poor technique can cause injuries, or at the very least, make for a difficult experience for your dance partners (yes, I've been on the receiving end of this). Also there is the harm of taking potential income away from real teachers.

    Sadly, some people are too cheap to be willing to pay for good instruction, or are ignorant enough to believe that a fellow like this has equal skill to a trained teacher. As you point out, you get what you pay for.

    ETA: there's certainly nothing wrong with just organizing a practice session with one's fellow students. I'm all for that. It was this guy's superior and patronizing approach in which he clearly has deemed himself an expert who is qualified to evaluate and "work with" (his words) the other students.
  8. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    I don't really think so. Students use their time in the studio to socialize and plan all sorts of events together. You can't really police their conversations. And he is not, from what I understand, soliciting payed lessons, so he is not "stealing" business. Just organizing practice sessions. And if he happens to help some people out with info along the way... well oh well, it is up to them whether they want his info or not.
  9. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Right, and since he is doing nothing illegal then what can you do, pick a fight over it? This industry is big enough for all of us.

    If people want his info a $0 that is fine. It does not take away from my business, where people pay $85, because that is two VERY different type of clientle. Those with him either look around at dancers who are getting better and follow their example of who to take lessons from, or they like what they are doing and you can't change them anyway.
  10. Me

    Me New Member

    This is all true... though I wouldn't recommend picking a fight so to speak.

    Saying, "No thanks" to the wanna' be does free her from this situation (for now) but if she is looking for ways to bring this person down a peg (which is what I understood - I may be wrong) one possibility would be for a person of authority (a respected teacher, the studio owner, etc) to speak with this guy before he becomes a monster, if it isn't already too late (as he has had four years to transmogrify). Who knows. Maybe they're looking to hire a new teacher and could work with him on certification. (Not likely, I know.)
  11. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    No, no, I want to make clear that I am NOT looking to take any action regarding this person and certainly don't intend to pick a fight. I already politely turned down his offer of free coaching and there's not much else I can do.

    Sorry if my post came across as vindictive or something, that was not my intent and nowhere did I say that. I was simply airing what I believe to be a legitimate gripe. I have seen the results coming from self appointed teachers, which is to say a lot of poor dancing by people who refuse to seek out better instruction. It is not fun to dance with people like this, and I now avoid the venues where the problem seems to be rampant.
  12. Me

    Me New Member

    Hi Jenny! That post was my fault. I switched geers and didn't clarify.

    I meant, it wasn't necessary for the studio to pick a fight (presumably after you went to somebody there about the guy). I wasn't clear - my next paragraph talked of how you politely turned him down.

    I understand completely how you feel. It is not fun when somebody who does not know what they are doing makes you uncomfortable while dancing.
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Jenny, you don't say what kind of classes for what kind of dance.
    "so right away I asked him "oh, are you a teacher?" "
    This I think is funny, because in the world of Argentine Tango, outside of the US, down Buenos Aires way, the older men get respect because everyone knows, or figures out, who the good dancers are. Same with the older women. (Age isn't required, but there is a special deference to those who have been dancing for decades.)

    Some of our more basic social dances her in the US are actually pretty easy to learn right on the dance floor on a Saturday night. But then, if that was widely known, then there wouldn't be as many people making money at teaching.

    Does this guy know what he is doing? Is there anything you could learn from him?
    Frankly, there are many, many very poor dance teachers in this country. You may have seen some of them on So You Think You Can Dance, causing Nigel to shake his head in dismay and tell some of them that they should give their students a refund.

    This Sunday one of the dance teachers here in Portland seemed to be giving me crap about "talking to people" about Argentine Tango. (Hey, they could be paying him to teach them instead of listening to me.) I told him that I talk to people who know less about it than I do. If they don't seem interested, I leave them alone. I still don't know what he really thinks, and frankly, I don't much care.

    You might consider the fact that there is plenty of good information available with no exchange of funds. The trick of course, is figuring out the difference between the good and the bad.
  14. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    All teachers are self appointed - this remains true even if that appointment has been endorsed by others. Further, there are many active dancers out there who do not teach for a living, yet have a far more solid understanding of dance than the majority of those who do.

    You may or may not find a given person annoying, but the real question from a dance perspective should be:

    1) do they or do they not know what they are talking about?

    2) can they present it in a useful way?

    Self appointed or not, if these are true to some degree I don't see what was wrong in the invitation. But even if nothing was wrong with it, you are of course welcome to decline.

    It's also very hard to know without turning up what exactly is going on in these sessions. Are they underground classes? Are they facilitated practices? Chances to meet partners? Chances to ask questions? Chances to dance with more experienced dancers in a way not possible in class or at socials? Or just somebody getting an ego trip from their worshippers? There are a lot of possibilities, some good and some bad.
  15. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    i can understand that it's not pleasant to be around arrogance, but the simple thing is just to not engage if someone's vibe isn't what you want to be around. no reason to take offense or get upset, IMV... just smile and redirect your attention to something else. :)

    for my part, i've had some excellent learning experiences with experienced amateurs, and i don't think there's anything inherently arrogant or misplaced about an amateur sharing what they have learned with others. i'm almost never bothered by feedback on the floor... i tend to welcome it and enjoy hearing it because there's always something to be learned from it, in my view. the very few people i've met who were truly arrogant, well... i just paid them no mind.

    jen, that guy who's working with some people "to give something back"... he may have something legitimate to share with them... and i see no prob with his enjoying the sense of value he would personally gain from doing that.

    just my thoughts on it... :)
  16. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    All excellent points. To further clarify, I think it's great - even desirable - if this fellow (or anyone) simply says "I'm organizing a practice session, would you like to come?" I welcome constructive feedback (and give it if asked), when done in a friendly, cooperative way. Please don't misconstrue my statements to mean that I think it's impossible to learn from fellow amateurs. I do it all the time with my friends when we practice together and give each other tips.

    I will say once again my objection is specifically to the fact that the person in question believes (with no apparent basis) that he knows so much more than his other fellow students and that he patronizingly offers to mentor them. He also made comments that if a lady has had ballet training then he knows he can "work with" her - though he himself has not had ballet.

    Steve Pastor, this guy is worlds away from the distinguished, venerable milongueros you are speaking of. I would be honored to meet and learn from them.

    As mentioned, this fellow only has been dancing four years and he dances okay, but that doesn't necessarily make him able to teach others. By the way, we are both in an advanced hustle class which is taught by a nationally known, excellent, and well respected instructor. The class involves a lot of technique for the ladies (especially the turns) and I want to follow the instructor's methods because she knows what she is doing.
  17. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    And why would it be surprising that some in a class know much much more than others? It's really something more like the normal situation. Of course this guy could simply be full of himself, but it's extremely common that there are people in classes far enough ahead of the average to be in a position to give quite a lot back - provided that they don't disrupt the class itself.

    He wouldn't need to have taken ballet himself to recognize the feel of the habits that ballet dancers develop, he would merely have to have experience dancing with a representative number of them. They are some stereotypical ways in which ballet training can have a quite distinctive influence - both positive and negative.
  18. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    At this point I have tried to explain my gripe several ways but I guess I'm not making sense. My complaint had to do with someone being pretentious and patronizing, plain and simple. Some of the responses indicate that my perceptions may be unjustified. I can give this guy the benefit of the doubt. But I also will note that in comparison, I have met many others in dance classes who indeed have a lot of knowledge to give back, and they are much more humble.
  19. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Could be I'm wrong (seem to be wrong a lot, lately, lol), but it seemed to me that this guy just rubbed you the wrong way...understandably...and you were venting about it. At least that's the impression I got. Nothing wrong with that.
  20. Me

    Me New Member

    Hmm. Well scratch my earlier theory - This one's hopeless.

    Politely saying no was the right thing to do. You also did the right thing by asking him if he was an instructor. If you get paired with him later in class and he interferes with your lesson there are many ways to deal with it, "Thanks, but I don't think that's how she did it" to the less polite (but said with a smile) "Please stop talking - You're distracting me" have usually worked for me. These sorts of statements make it clear that his instruction is not important to you. If the instructor overhears, she will almost certainly come over and help you with the lesson, and perhaps fix something he is doing wrong as well. (Try not to smile!) Eventually he'll get the picture... or he'll just blame you (to save ego) and move on to the next 'ballerina.'

    You might like to read these threads over in the tango forum:

    Speaks to both leads and follows. Some of it is quite funny. ;)

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