During the past weekend a great uproar in the UK salsa scene was created by a certain guest dancer from abroad, who commented about “who should or should not teach Salsa”. The comment in reality offended the majority of the local Salsa Instructors, nevertheless it gets us through the door to have the real conversation, which is not a matter of one’s personal opinion to answer who is and who is not good enough to teach Salsa.
In the Salsa/Social dance scene we come across a phenomenon that is unique in the dance world. There is no differentiation among a dancer, a teacher and a choreographer. Three very different roles that require a very different set of skills and training that we seem to ignore in the social dance world.
So why do we keep confusing the three roles in social dance world?
Is it the same reasoning that we have in believing: “If one can dance well socially, then are they considered to be a well-trained professional dancer?”
If yes, then, are the Salsa-dancers right and the rest of the dance/art forms wrong? Is there a problem regarding the qualifications and credentials a dancer/choreographer/instructor should have? And do all the new e-learning instructor-programs help the scene in this matter?
Thus, we end up with dancers who introduce themselves as choreographers, teachers being presented as performers and choreographers thinking they can teach. Does being a great Dancer/Choreographer/Teacher automatically mean that you are all of the other three as well?
We are being told that:
A Dancer‘s main purpose is to: train their mind and body, conquer the necessary technique, be able to realize the vision of the choreographer and perform it to the audience expressing their own truth along with the choreographer’s truth at the same time.
A Choreographer, on the other hand, needs to have a very deep theoretical knowledge of the art of dancing, to be able to draw from a broader technical background for inspiration and to have a knowledge of the principles of choreographing. Being a talented dancer themselves is not essential in order for someone to be a great choreographer, as a director does not have to be a talented actor to direct well.
A dance Teacher, finally, apart from the theoretical and practical knowledge of dance that they must have, needs to have a whole different set of skills altogether. Among other skills a teacher needs to be able to: recognize the needs and the level of the students, approach each and every student individually, know how to handle frustration, communicate skillfully, and inspire people to love what they are learning and to improve themselves.
So instead of pointing fingers and calling names shouldn’t we all sit down and work together to better what we all love?
That is: Dancing as an art form…
These are a few of the questions we had after the little incident in the UK Salsa Scene.
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