MandiKevinJducttapeAnother great and frequently asked question came in today:

“As a dance student, how should I deal with different instructors teaching conflicting swing dance styles/techniques?”

This is a great question and something that everyone is faced with eventually after they move on from learning from a single instructor.

Learn Everything

I feel strongly that ultimately, everyone should learn everything. Every approach, every philosophy, every technique and detail will help you to become the best dancer you can be. Keeping an open mind and trying different things will help you to decide what resonates with you and what you might find interesting but don’t want to incorporate into your day to day dancing.

Learning is a Skill

Learning itself is a skill. It takes time to hone and refine that skill. The more classes that you take, the easier it will become to pick up on new technique and interpretations from a variety of teachers.

hop-to-torontoBe Adaptable

A truly advanced dancers should be adaptable. It’s hard at first, but with experience this becomes one of the great joys of studying with a variety of teachers. Every instructor has a slightly different take on things and it’s fascinating to get in to the nitty gritty of their Lindy Hop technique and vision. When I’m in a Dean Collins style, I adapt and use that technique. When I’m in Steven and Virginie’s classes, I adjust again and take on their approach to the dance. If the instructors are Swedish, I shift my thinking and my body again. And then there are all of those wonderful shades of grey in between.

Adaptability grows easier with Experience

>Don’t get me wrong. At first it can be really hard to both identify the differences and then also shift the body in to doing what the mind has understood. This is what truly advances someone’s dancing and body awareness. I would say that this is even more important for followers since a good follower really doesn’t have the option to choose the technique on the dance floor. Followers add in their own style, but the technique choice comes from the leader and we match and respond to what they give us.

Like life, dancing is a Maturing Process

Learn all of it and try to master all of the different approaches before you throw something away. My dancing did a complete 180 in around 2003. And though my dancing is completely different than it was in my earlier years of dancing, I would not be the dancer that I am today if I hadn’t gone through that learning process. It helped me to get to know my body and now I’m able to pick and choose how I want to follow a wide spectrum of leaders and styles.

Nerd Out!

Over the years, I’ve come to really enjoy nerding out on all of the philosophies and subtle differences that are out there. That nerdy conceptualization isn’t for everyone, but if you can embrace those details it’s a lot of fun and it can make every learning experience really insightful.

Mandi Gould
Director, Head Dance Instructor
Bees’ Knees Dance – Anyone Can Dance™


One of our Advanced students and Worker Bees has some great words that I’d like to add on this subject:

“As a fairly experienced dancer, I’ve taken classes in lindy hop, blues, and balboa from instructors from all different parts of the world, different schools, and under different musical or stylistic contexts. I think that above all, I take a piece of advice that Chachi gave me to heart: every instructor puts their opinions on how the dance should be done into their teaching. You can take that opinion, try it out, see how it works with your dancing, incorporate it into your dancing immediately, or put it on the shelf and return to it (or not) as the situation calls for. However, you should at least try to do what they’re teaching in a given class, regardless of your initial feelings on it.
Learning how different instructors who have been lindy hopping for years or decades think about and move in the dance is beneficial to you, whether a new opinion conflicts with a previously held one or not. Some of those ideas or stylings you may not use regularly, but will pull out for a choreo or something in future. You own style will shift and change over the years, too, and you may return to things that once upon a time didn’t work well with it and find they are now a great fit. Remember that back when lindy hop was first being developed, it didn’t have one strict style with lessons being taught and a “proper” technique that spanned the entirety of the continent. People just danced the way it felt good to them to dance. Thus, there are many interpretations from different instructors today when they bring the dance into the classroom. ” ~Amanda Stock