The question of levels in a social dance class environment has long been the talk of heated debate. As teachers we have a duty to protect the safety of all our dancers, we also want to see our students progress. If a class does not have any restrictions such as ‘invite only’ or ‘you must have attended X course’ or ‘you must be assessed by a teacher before moving into’ then you may well think that you can just put yourself up into the next level and ‘give yourself a bit of a challenge’.
Some teachers are more polite than others with their response when a lower level dancer joins in a higher level class. I wish more teachers would step up and move the person back down to the lower class, sadly many don’t have the confidence to do this.
The problem with being in a higher level class is that you just won’t have the correct technique to cope with the higher level. The reason it’s a higher level is because those dancers have spent significant time perfecting core techniques which allow them to move onto the more complicated things. In Salsa especially the moves are fast and often dangerous and being in the wrong level can lead to dislocated joints and broken bones.
The other problem is that once a teacher sees that you are not capable of safely executing the moves they will probably bring the level of the class down, this annoys the higher level class who have paid good money for that higher level and it holds them back.
Once this happens, more lower level people will see that an Intermediate class is actually moving along more like an Improver class and then they will want to join and then the teacher has to bring the level down again. As social dance teachers this is the number 1 complaint from our Advanced level dancers that they go to a class advertised Advanced and it invariably ends up as Improver Level. Advanced dancers will simply stop coming and your dance scene starts to fill up with Beginners and Improvers, there’s no aspiring dancers left and before long your dance scene stagnates or worst still evaporates.
Our suggestion? Speak to the teacher at the end of a session, ask them to dance with you and assess you to see whether you are ready to move up. NEVER move up without the teacher’s blessing. If you’re going to a festival or don’t have the opportunity to speak to a teacher beforehand, always pick the lower level, just to be sure.
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