Quite often people will ask if we have any private dance teachers for their special dancer. I have taught several private classes and think that there are a few things you should consider before hiring a private teacher. Market rate for a private dance teacher is $60-$80 an hour, so it can get quite expensive if you want to see true results. (This price often does not include the rehearsal space.) So take a moment to reflect on your motives by asking these questions:
1. Is there a specific goal that cannot be achieved in a regular dance class setting? If a serious dancer has fallen behind in what they are learning in class and needs extra help for whatever reason, privates might be a good idea. Sometimes show or audition preparation requires dancers to seek special attention. If the student is just dancing for fun, privates are not that necessary if they have been missing class. Taking a few regular classes a week would be enough to get back into the swing of things.
2. Are jittery nerves playing into this decision because learning with other students seems too intimidating? Some families want to start with private dance teachers until the dancer gets comfortable enough to try a regular dance class with other students. If this is the case, I wouldn't spend the money on private dance classes, but rather find a better class considering age, the teacher and dancers' level so that it fits with your dancer. In reality, most dance students are more focused on themselves compared to critiquing other dancers. Many people think they will get made fun of if they are beginners when this is not the case! (Or shouldn't be and if so you are at the wrong studio.) Beginners also need to understand that picking up dance moves will get easier over time. It is normal to feel a little overwhelmed your first few classes. Private lessons could definitely help, but persistence with normal classes should do the same thing and save a lot of money over time.
3. Are you interested in a unique bonding experience with a partner or specific group of people? I've had couples ask for private dance teachers in preparation for their wedding or just as a fun date idea. I think that is a great! It is difficult to find classes sometimes that will cater to two people in this way. Some parents also ask for a private lesson for girl scout troupes, birthday parties, or other social gatherings. This is a fun option when you want to try something different and create a special bonding activity that may get lost in a bigger classroom setting.
4. Are you looking to improve awkwardness for dancing in social settings? I've had a few different men ask for private lessons so they would feel more comfortable dancing rather than being the "wall flower." If this is the case, a typical dance class is not going to pin point exactly how one should be dancing in a party setting. In a private lesson, the dance teacher is able to work specifically on what seems off with the student's natural movement. They can also teach very basic steps using various "grooving" exercises that would be hard to learn in even a beginner dance class. For women seeking privates for this reason, I would suggest trying Zumba, burlesque, or belly dancing type classes before spending the money. These types of classes focus on more hip work that might give a woman more confidence in a social dance setting.
On the other hand, if you feel like you are just lacking confidence, rather than actual moves, I'd stick to a dance class. Private lessons lack the social aspect of a regular class and the development of new friendships. Making other dancer friends is great for one's confidence and creates a better energy during class. Dancers start "vibing" off each other and create a team or family atmosphere that make dancing outside of class less intimidating.
5. Do you or your dancer have special needs? Dancing can be very therapeutic for many people from all different walks of life. If you are looking for a regular class to cater to specific learning, physical, or special needs, it may be a little harder to find. I have been approached by a few parents of children with Autism, Down's Syndrome, and Spina Bifida who are interested in seeing if dancing will be a good outlet. I 100% agree that it would as long as it is a good fit for the student. The size, style, and age group of the class will play a role in the dancer's experience as well as how well their teacher understands their needs. The best thing to do is start talking to private dance teachers to find the person that would be most experienced and helpful. You might even want to look into an actual dance therapist to see what programs are offered in your area for group or private classes.
People have multiple reasons for seeking out private dance teachers. I just recommend you discuss your motives with the teacher you are interested in to ensure you really need special attention that can't be found in a regular dance class. The price difference is pretty big and multiple lessons are required to see desired results. If you are having trouble finding private dance teachers, you can always research some local studios in your area and ask who they recommend based on what you are looking for.