So, you walk in, nervous and excited the day of your first set of dance lessons, and take in the breath-taking sight of talented dancers gliding across the floor. You secretly promise yourself you’ll be better than all of them in half the time. So naturally, when your instructor asks if you have any questions, the first thing that pops out is: ‘How long until I’m good?’

The question is perfectly warranted: you want an estimate of how long you have to invest yourself before you can feel confident dancing. Problem is, asking that of your instructor is a bit like walking into a hair salon and telling your stylist ‘I don’t know. Surprise me.’ Unless you want to end up with a flock-of-seagulls haircut, it helps to get a little more detailed about what exactly you’re looking for.

I can’t say how many students walk in with only a general idea of what they would like to do with their dance lessons. They haven’t really thought about it, but they expect the instructor to find out for them. And of course, your dance teacher is going to try their darndest. But your odds of having productive and satisfying lessons are immeasurably increased if you plan out some things first.

Take a piece of paper, and try to answer the following questions:

  1. What would I like to accomplish through my dance lessons? (Get more social dance partners, de-stress from work, enter competitions, etc.)
  2. What do I enjoy most about dancing?
  3. Which do I enjoy more, learning new steps, or learning how to do ones I’ve learned better?
  4. What words best describe how I want my dancing to look? (Elegant, sexy, flowing, etc.)
  5. What is the biggest barrier to me improving my dancing? (Self-conscious, fear of talking to others, etc.)
  6. How long or how much money am I prepared to commit to overcoming my barriers and accomplishing the goals I have described above?

Once you’ve answered these questions, tell your instructor as much as you feel comfortable saying, and include how much dance experience you’ve had previously. THEN they can give you a more accurate estimate, which you can then decide to take or leave. And of course if they’re not delivering, you can walk away.

All this said however, I’m sure many of you are still wanting some kind of estimate on how many dance lessons you need remember this: learning Ballroom & Latin dancing is a “Marathon” NOT a “Sprint”.

“If you concentrated on the minimum number of steps to have something you could do for each of a half dozen major dances, and practiced those regularly with peers outside of class, then in maybe 12 weeks (encompassing maybe 24 group or private lessons, and 36 hours of peer practice) you should be able to feel like dancing is something you can really do with some earned confidence.”

The above quote is true with most social dancers. On the other hand, if you want to look like a professional on Dancing With the Stars, well… How many years do you have? Dancing may well become your life-long passion, if that’s where you want to go.

Again, this is about YOU, YOUR needs, and what YOU want out of your dance lessons. So be like Jerry Maguire, and help your instructor help you.