A reddit user just asked a great question – “how do you audition teachers?” Teacher development is very important to me, so I’d like to share how I choose my teachers for Swingin’ Denver.
I’m fortunate to have many great teachers apart of Swingin’ Denver. We have Todd & Reese running class at The Savoy Events Center. Ash & Jami are teaching classes at dance2b and Ash is also at School of Mines. Wiley is the principle instructor for the Art Bar Swing Social on Third Thursdays. BreAnna often teaches with me at The Arvada Tavern and is currently heading up our Highlands classes. For workshops and the like, you’ll see more Delilah and Jesse.
With so many venues going, I first look for leadership – people that can step up , take charge, and be independent. I’m here if people need me, but I realized months ago, that I can’t oversee every little detail. It’s overwhelming. That’s why I’m glad I have people that can run social media for their venues, construct Facebook event pages under Swingin’ Denver, promote themselves and take lead when talking to venue organizers while keeping me apprised.
Then I look for people I’d consider professional. This word carries itself from their preparation, the way they dress, the way they interact with students, how they give to the students. This is because culture starts at the top.
I also look for people that invest in their dancing. Do they travel, do they take workshops, compete, learn from local teachers? Then I try to know if they are working on their own to improve their dancing. As teachers, we should be doing what we ask our students to do.
Also, I look for teachers receptive to feedback. This is one where you don’t always know this until you start training them or they start teaching for you. The training never stops and I like teachers that can feedback each other and can take critique.
In addition, I look for people with good oratorical skills. Do they speak clearly or mumble? Do they speak with authority or temerity? Do they talk too little or too much?
I’m reminded by something that Jenn Salvadori said in an interview with Caitlin George of Toronto Lindy Hop: “Also, not everyone should teach. There’s such a push to be a teacher now and that’s only lending to over-saturating the market and the dumbing down of so many important elements of this dance and nobody wants that.”
Teaching comes with great power and great responsibility. It should be a curated position treated with respect, mild trepidation, and hard work. And when you’re the only one to lead this endeavour in your scene, mad props go out to you.