Team Teaching


Well-Known Member
Here's an observation from a relative swing newbie. Swing dancers teach in teams, ballroom dancers teach as individuals. Obviously, that's a generalization, so there are lots of exceptions. But virtually every swing workshop ongoing class I've seen involves team teaching, while few ballroom classes/lessons I've attended have had the team approach.

What's the deal with that? Just tradition? How does it work? What are the benefits? Any down sides for the students or teachers?


Active Member
By team teaching, do you mean a lead and follow are both involved in the lesson?

I will relate my experience and give my "off the top of my head" observations and thoughts.

I have been dancing socially for 20 years and teaching in a social atmosphere for close to 8 years. I have competed in a very limited capacity. I attend workshops of just about every type of partner dance now available.


In my experience, people putting on workshops (of all types, not limited to ballroom or "street" dances) want to get their monies worth. They have to pay a lot of money to bring in top teachers who may or may not have a partner, as well as advertise, book space, provide staff, etc. It makes sense to split the teachers up and have them teach separate classes at the same time so that more classes can be taught and more money can be made so that expenses can be covered, more workshops can be funded, etc. This is possible if both dance partners are able to teach. Single teachers will often take one or two of the better dancers in a class to use as partners when demonstrations are needed.

Teaching in General

Classes can be geared for many different objectives:

Teach a pattern for social dancing.
Teach a pattern for competitive dancing.
Teach one new, difficult move.
Teach a routine.
Teach one technique, using several different moves to demonstrate.
Teach several moves, such as WC syncopations.

These objectives may be best accomplished with one teacher or may require a team. It depends.

I teach in a rural area. I do not have a regular partner. Even if I had a partner, I find it easier to teach both sides of the dance so that I can control the points that I want to get across to the students. I can adjust myself to the level of the class as we progress during the lesson without having to confer with a partner. When I am teaching a particularly involved move, I will make use of one or two of my more advanced students as an aide. We will have worked on the lesson before class.

Some dances - Lindy Hop, Balboa, Argentine Tango, WC Swing - are so stylistically different or have such different moves for the leader and follower that having a paired teaching team makes sense for the visuals needed to show off the dance, especially at the beginner level, and for the need to teach each part separately at the same time to make effective use of lesson time. Once the basics are covered a single teacher can effectively teach either side, using a student for demonstration.

This also applies to advanced partnering skills in ballroom, especially smooth/standard, where the partnership frame, balance is so critical to making two people look like one gliding over the floor. A couple is needed to demonstrate the correct positions to get the "look" and expected movement. Once that is understood by the students, a single teacher can teach both sides effectively.

Some teaching teams don't learn the other partners' moves, but I find this VERY rare.

I look forward to seeing other peoples comments.

There isn't anything one teacher can do better than two, but many, many examples of what a pair can do.

My partner and I spend about eight hours a week working on teaching, we have a nearly identical approach and shared philosophy... it is almost like sharing the same brain... the same kind of effortless non-verbal communication you experience on the floor a teaching couple can have in regards to teaching.

The added benefit is another person who knows what a move is suppossesd to look and feel like, but has a different way to explain the technique/movement/pattern. Everyone learns differently and keys off different words.

I teach alone a lot and if my students are to be believed, I am very good at it. I make more money teaching alone... but I always, always prefer to teach with my partner because it is what is best for the students. We can give twice the indiidual help as well as being able to approach the same material from different views.

Teaching with a student aid is more difficult, no matter how talented the student... they are a student for a reason. Using non-verbal teaching assistansts is a little better since they tend to know material passably well but without verbalizing their own experiences you are still stuck with one teachers POV.

About the only exception I can think to the superiority of an established teaching team, is when top level dancers who hasve danced and worked together in the past come together to teach special workshops. The contrast in teaching styles and dancing styles but the ability to adapt to their partner and the unique stle created is refreshing.

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