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  • Writer's pictureDavid Phillips

What is more important for learning how to dance: a good instructor or watching online tutorials?

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

(Originally published on Quora)

It feels rich with possibilities—the mere idea that online resources might be as good as, maybe even better than, in-person help. Each has advantages.

  • In person — real-time coaching, assessment, feedback, and problem-solving. What is their level of expertise, both in the subject and in the skill of teaching?

  • Pre-recorded — consume at our own pace, as often as we like. Recordings may have more planning and other aids to cover essentials in a concise time frame.

To develop our skills in any area, we need three things:

  1. A guide to the most useful and effective things to work on at our current level of development

  2. Regular practice

  3. Feedback on how well we're doing

An instructor, teacher, coach, or skilled friend can be the most time-effective source of information on what’s best to work on right now. It is helpful because they can do an in-person (even if it is virtual) assessment of your current level and what would be most helpful.

We can also get ideas about what to work on from books, videos, and our own feedback. This will probably take more time and more trial and error.

Regular practice? That’s simply doing the work on a regular basis, ideally, something every day.

Feedback — We can get this from friends, instructors, strangers on the Internet, and other ways. One highly effective source is watching videos of ourselves. First, we can’t think or complain to another person, “I didn’t do what you’re saying.” The evidence is right in front of our eyes. Second, we can see for ourselves whether it meets our expectations.

Yes, there is the possibility of a Dunning-Kruger effect: “Wow, I look fabulous!” More of us, I think, will likely have the opposite reaction: “Oh no, it’s awful.” Or something in between. The important thing is to keep working on it. Make specific notes about the things you like and want to keep, and the things you want to change and improve.

Work on just one or at most two changes at any one time. (That’s all our conscious mind can track at once, although the subconscious will be aware of everything else.) When you see the improvement you want, find the next big thing to work on.

At Tango Tribe, we feel the best answer is a combination! Our free Game of Argentine Tango is one of many excellent onlin

e resources for learning and practicing tango. Plus, periodically get a check-up with an instructor or with a trusted friend at a práctica.

Do you have resources you particularly like? Instructor-led experiences you found especially useful? Let us know with a comment! (See comment box at the bottom of this page.)

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