All coaching is, is taking a player where he can’t take himself.
–Bill McCartney, American Football Coach
To become a champion, you have to be DETERMINED. The number one quality of a winner is to keep getting back on the horse (or floor!), after every disappointment.
The successful dancer isn’t detoured from his/her dream by failure or rejection; because there’s a lot of it on the way to the top! That’s not to say that it doesn’t hurt. I’ve seen (and cried!) plenty of tears at every dance studio, theatre and competition venue.
A winner is PERSISTENT and when it comes to pulling him/herself up again and again, he/she can it do. There are times, though, that even we resilient self-starters need someone in our corner.
Chris & Denese Morris
Along the way in our training, we experience the spectrum of dance coaches, as we strive to develop our skills.
Some are serious, others fun.
Some are personable, others are cold.
Some bring out the best in you, some you can’t relate to.
Sometimes you feel like you’re just filling up space on the schedule.
Over my career, I’ve had the privilege of training with some outstanding, world class coaches. For the most part, each unique perspective has enriched some part of my technique, artistry or strategy.
But not all have enriched my SPIRIT.
Sometimes, the most valuable quality of a coach is their belief in YOU. Click to Tweet
A coach like this is special.
We’re not looking for someone to throw flowers and flatter—those don’t bring about results.
Others dance coaches are relentless in their drive to BEAT results into you. To some degree, there will be progress with the hard-nosed approach, but it often also comes with a side dish of discouragement.
The good coach can build both your skills and your esteem, with TRUTH. A great coach goes one step further and shows you the potential inside; that which you knew was there and wished everyone could see.
My best coaches made me feel empowered by my uniqueness. My first coach, Aldor, was one of them. Those are rare.
-Erik Cyr, Canadian National Professional Latin Finalist
I was lucky enough to work with one of these great coaches, Chris Morris: U.S. and World Finalist, and 5-Time Representative to the World Latin Championships.
Even though I was pretty green as a pro (dancing with one of my first partners), Chris made me feel like I could do anything!
Whenever he demonstrated something with me, it felt as if I was magically 10x better then I really was! I was faster, more balanced, more expressive and could go further then I had ever before. Of course, he could have made a rubber chicken look like a peacock, but it wasn’t JUST dancing with him that made me better.
He was encouraging from the our first coaching lesson. He never made me feel unworthy to be working with him, despite my newness. He was engaged on the lessons, took the time after lessons to guide us on strategy, and most importantly, spoke and trained me as if I was already meeting my potential.
He coached as if there was no doubt that what he saw in me would be realized. And because he believed in me, instead of just wishing on my talent, I too, could BELIEVE in it.
There have been coaches since that I have learned more from, technically and artistically, but I would have to say that Chris still had the most far-reaching impact on me, because he coached my SOUL, and without that, I wouldn’t have been able to receive all the further training in the way I did.
Sadly Chris passed away in 2001, but before he died, I had the chance to visit him in the hospital.
I had to tell him that his unrestrained belief in me had changed me from being afraid of never being able to get what I knew was inside of me out, to being completely CONFIDENT that I could express myself fully without restraint, achieve what I wanted and it would be Awesome.
Because of his unqualified earnest belief, I was no longer held back by myself. I could and did FLY!
Just writing this post makes me a little misty-eyed, remembering how important our influence can be on others. I hope over the years, at some point, I’ve made my students feel like they can fly, too.
The best coaches I’ve known can take the focus off themselves and put it completely on the dancers and the art. They rely on a process that circumvents ego and agenda, and concentrates movement toward excellence in the body, awareness in the mind, and fearless generosity in the soul.
-David Weise, World & U.S. Professional American Smooth Vice-Champion
Want to be a great coach? Want to find a great coach? Here are some qualities.
- Find a coach who is honest. If you’re only getting compliments, you won’t be getting results. A great coach has a critical eye, a straightforward tongue, and an empathetic heart.
- Be someone who your coach can believe in. Be teachable, open-minded, hard-working. Be able to hear what you sometimes don’t want to hear, if you know it is the truth.
- Step beyond the comfort zone. A great coach allows you to feel comfortable experimenting outside the box. There is a trust in each other to push more and be pushed without fear.
- Look for a coach that sees in you the qualities you know you have, but others often miss. A coach who looks beyond the finished product and sees the potential has the skills to shine your unpolished talent.
Qualities of Great Coaches
He made me realize that what I thought I knew, was incomplete and false…then I began to learn.
-Max Sinitsa, World & U.S. Professional American Smooth Finalist
Does your coach make you feel like you can fly? What does he/she do that makes you feel empowered?
If you’re a coach, how do you bring out the best in your dancers? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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