Volunteer Instructors

Hiya all,

In toronto, there is a school that has a volunteer instructor program, where advanced dancers show up to a beginner's level and either serve as teachers or lead/follows. Most volunteer instructors know both the men's and women's parts, so if the male-female ratio is off, they can function as both ( most often the men are follows ).

My experience is that the program works best when the volunteer instructors are lead/follows with less experienced students. The student gets the individualized attention that is found in a private lesson at a lower price, many subtle things like leading and connection can be corrected that might not be detected in a larger group lesson, and there is less of the 'what the hell are we doing' vibe that goes on in lessons where both the lead and follow are in the same level.

However, I find that when some volunteer instructors explain a turn pattern, they usually end up rushing through the steps, and the student doesn't get the detailed pattern breakdown that more senior dancers and instructors (who actually earn a living dancing) can provide.

In my beginner/intermediate class, most of the women I've talked to that are volunteer instructors have been dancing for a year or more, while some of the men have been doing it at least 2 or 3 years. On a good day, the volunteer instructor - student ratio is about 1 to 1.

A bonus to the experience is that students get to know dancers that are more established in the salsa scene.

Is this done anywhere else? What do you guys think about it?


Staff member
Wow, I actually haven't heard of anything like that before (not to say that someone else here hasn't or that it doesn't happen somewhere else). That sounds fantastic. Sure, any explanation by less senior instructors might not have the polish of those with more experience and investment in teaching, but the very fact that that number of more experienced dancers are willing to show up and help out is fantastic!

How did this get started? How is it arranged and organized? Sounds great!
SDsalsaguy said:
How did this get started? How is it arranged and organized? Sounds great!
The program started in 2001, and it is part of an entire instructor training program. According to their website , about 50 instructors have gone through it. There is a special class that the volunteer instructors take, and they must commit themselves to learning the opposite part ( lead for follows and vice-versa ).

From what I see, the perks include free admission to studio classes and clubs where the group teaches, as well as the opportunity to absorb from well established instructors. I think to get into the program, you have to audition or talk to the director and then agree to certain commitments.


We have a studio in Atlanta (that's closing) that has a program like this. There are many advantages. First, it helps to have people who can help improve the guy-girl ratio when there is an imbalance. Secon, it's a good way for a studio to "try out" instructors before they start paying them. Third, it help new instructors to understand the way the school teaches classes in a live setting. I think it's good if it's not overdone.

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