Jesse Lopez and Andrea Rafter - Photo Cred: Shelby Brokaw

Jesse Lopez and Andrea Rafter – Photo Cred: Shelby Brokaw

Jb Brodie and Ksenia Sheina Nomberg: Photo Credit - Brad Whelan

Jb Brodie and Ksenia Sheina Nomberg: Photo Credit – Brad Whelan


If only finding a west coast swing coach was as easy as getting a chair turned.

If only finding a west coast swing coach was as easy as getting a chair turned.

My experience with coaching has not only strengthened my dancing, it’s also helped further my networking skills, added discipline in my work ethic, and opened up other opportunities within the dance community. The guidance of a coach can assist students in achieving their goals and beyond. After receiving positive feedback from my private lessons post, I wanted to expand more on the topic of one-on-one instruction. This coaching series will be split up into two parts, and this week I’m focusing on steps to find the coach for you. Rounding out my opinions for the week are Champion dancer, Judge, Coach, and NASDE 2011 Jack and Jill First Place Leader, Jb Brodie, and competitive dancer and Wandering Westie editor Andrea Rafter.

Should I get a coach?


Whether you’re performing a routine (Pro-Am, Rising Star), growing through competition ranks, or simply want to improve your social dancing skills, EVERYONE can benefit from coaching.  A lot of dancers, especially those new to West Coast Swing, assume that private instruction is only reserved for more advanced dancers. Champion Tessa Cunningham Munroe wants to eliminate that school of thought and says,A trained, experienced, passionate teacher is willing and capable of teaching ALL levels of students, from newbies to advanced.”

No matter where you are in your West Coast Swing journey, coaching provides a host of benefits in a sometimes untapped opportunity. One of the comments commonly made throughout the community is how fortunate we are to have such incredibly knowledgeable and accessible professionals. Their goal is to help your West Coast Swing career grow.

The main goal [of coaching] is to have fun and [help the student] become the dancer you want to be. … Even if you get coaching once a month, it will still go a long way,” Brodie says.

Finding a coach is NOT like online dating-


You can’t exactly pull up an app and swipe left or right to find the right instructor for you. Coaching involves your time and money, as well as physical and mental well- being. It shouldn’t be a subject matter you tread lightly. So do your research!

  • Check out your prospective coach’s online resources. Most professionals have either a business facebook page or website.
  • Workshop recaps are posted frequently on YouTube. A coach’s teaching style may vary between workshops and private lessons, but you can get a better idea of their personality by watching recaps.
  • Attend their workshops!
  • Ask your friends/teachers for recommendations.

… Research your options. Go to a coach that you not only want something from but speaks your lingo as well. Know what you want from them when you go to them, whether it be basics or specific movements or concepts they have. And second, look at that coach’s success. Not only in their own results, but in their students as well. That way you can see examples of their coaching skills,” says Brodie.

Areas of Coaching: Over the course of your dance journey, you might have specific goals towards competition, routines, and social dancing. Each of these requires a different type of instruction. 

  • Routine (Rising Star or Pro/Am): A routine is a HUGE commitment. Make sure you are ready for the monetary, time, and mental/emotional investment for a routine. It’s not something you want to start and drop off. It requires several lessons to build the choreography, and the student must also be dedicated to working on the routine outside of lessons. You’ll either want to find a coach you can see regularly at events or team up with a local pro. Wandering Westie blog editor and competitive dancer, Andrea Rafter, says, “Working on a pro-am routine is such a rewarding experience! You get to work with your coach on all elements of a performance and you can learn so much along the way. The best part is thinking back to challenging rehearsals where you may have kept missing that one step and then performing the whole routine with confidence.” 
  • Competition: Advancing through competition also requires a fair bit of dedication. If you’re aiming to level up in competitive tiers, you can’t expect to do it without putting in the man hours. A lot of teachers encourage a variety of types of instruction, including group classes, social dancing, and private instruction. Not only will those methods build up your dancing, but practicing off the floor will too.
  • Social Dancing: Not everyone competes, but coaching can help ensure that you have the best time dancing EVERY time you go out dancing. There are many benefits to receiving coaching for your social dancing. You can learn how to adapt to various levels of dancers, prevent injury, and learn skills that will be attention-grabbing so your dance card never goes empty.

Finding the right coach can be quite tricky, but once you do the benefits can be advantageous. Join me next week as I bring in more expert tips, and give you advice on working with your coach and how you can develop a stronger coaching partnership. For Wandering Westie blog, I’m Stephanie Pham. Keep dancing!

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