My teaching methods
Having been teaching for more than two decades I can definitely state that the dance teacher’s task is more than just simply showing “this is how you do it”, and then letting the student copy that however he or she can. The key to success in teaching is being able to explain briefly and to the point exactly what you have to do and how to accomplish that. For that end, we have to apply numerous approaches, understand and make it understood how one particular movement or technique is the most practical and doable, taking into account human anatomy and the principles of physics. On the other hand, everyone is different, so the teacher must have a good sense in identifying the particular way to guide each individual to grasp and really get to feel the movement they are learning. To accomplish this, we have to be able to explain the same thing from new and even newer viewpoints, or if necessary, invent original and more tailored methods on the spot.
Improving these teaching methods must of course never cease. While I did found many great techniques throughout the first years improving and refining them from lesson to lesson and class to class, it was an invaluable aide when I had to become a beginner myself. I started to learn how to play the piano, and then could I see really what it is exactly like to learn something completely new, how it feels when the thing that is child”s play for the teacher is almost impossible to do right away even with the utmost concentration. This made me realize how much patience and well-designed purposeful practice is needed to acquire any new skills. By my good fortune I could experience an efficient but at the same time entertaining way of teaching at the hands of an acclaimed piano tutor who had been teaching then for several decades. During the following couple of years I managed to incorporate her well-developed techniques into my own methodology. It is indeed interesting how the same professional ways and means make you a good teacher whether you teach piano, dancing, English, tennis or anything else…
I started dancing at a small dance school in Buda, which after a year or so was followed by joining a sport-dance club. Many years went by with active competitive dancing before I started teaching, only to realise that while dancing itself is obviously a great thing, I enjoy even more sharing this magic with others.
During the following years I immersed myself deeply in several disciplines of dance teaching. While giving ballroom dance courses and teaching numerous choreographies for proms I also improved my methods of private dance tutoring. The experience of many years has shown me that teaching complete beginners their first steps (and being able to see their enjoyment of leading and following for the first time) is just as rewarding as having my students win their competitions (I remember being excited for them more than I used to be at my own competitions… :))
After several years of intensive teaching a friend of mine and I founded one of Budapest”s biggest dance schools, Hölgyválasz Dance Studio.
Meanwhile I pay special attention to keep on private teaching as well. I know it for a fact, even from own experience, that learning something via private tutoring is a great deal easier and more effective. (You can read more about the advantages of private lessons here…)
During the last decade my focus of attention shifted from general ballroom dancing towards Argentine tango. Few dances exist, where the ability to lead and follow properly and a skill to improvise is that important and applicable. I dug deeper and deeper into the world of Argentine tango, which in return greatly improved my teaching techniques of other dances as well.
And meanwhile this dance got my interest more and more, its music had an even bigger effect on me. For years I was the host and the DJ of one of the biggest and most popular milongas (tango dance night), then I managed to acquire my own bandoneon (not an easy task in Hungary :)), started to learn how to play it, and even founded an authentic Argentine Tango orchestra.
Since then Orquesta Típica Budapest has had almost a two-decade-long career, we are now regular guests of Hungarian milongas and acclaimed international tango festivals all around Europe. We appear on stage in such tango shows as Colores Del Tango and Tango Sabor at the National Dance Theatre or OktóberPest Tango show at the Palace of Arts.
It is of the greatest luck when a dance teacher gets the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument on a semi-professional level and to immerse in the ways of producing a music intended specially for dancing. As we focus on making our music more and more danceable and enjoyable, our ability to dance to any music – really in harmony with the music – changes significantly. Which results in a better understanding of how to teach all this to our students.