Teaching Tool: Giving Students A Vocabulary

Often when I am teaching  swing dance classes I want to assess how my students are doing or give them tools to assess each other/ themselves. One thing I learned quickly is if I asked the class, “Does anybody have any questions?” I would be met with blank/confused stares and occasionally a brave soul.

Average Student: What is this? I don't even


Often for students something will feel wrong but they sometimes just lack terms to articulate what exactly is ailing them. When a follow tells a lead that a move is being lead wrong, it is useful. However it is far less effective then an answer such as  “You are tensing your left arm so I can’t feel connection.”

What I try to do when asking students a question in a class setting are questions that target specifics. For example if I am teaching a rock step, “Follows did you feel a stretch from a rock step that propelled you forward?” or “Leads were your follows waiting for you to release tension on the rockstep, or were they backleading?”.

This works as well if you are trying to get students to give each other feedback, which I often do in my intermediate and above classes. An example of this is “Okay after you try the move three times to the music, stop and talk to your partner about what made it work or didn’t work. Some potential things to talk about are connection, tension, not looking at the ground, and if it was smooth or choppy.” When I phrase feedback that way, they have four different categories to flesh out their conversations with and this usually results in actual conversations giving vital feedback, versus the chit chat or blank stares I see during some classes during feedback time.

What I plan to try one of these days, is the classroom I teach in has a blackboard. I want to put the words up in chalk and see if visual stimulus would help my students out. Try this out, tell me how it goes!

Teaching Tool: Using Routines As Class Material

Recently I have been finding that using famous routines on youtube is a great way to teach my students Lindy Hop technique and vocabulary, in addition to inspiring them about the dance.

Several benefits include:

  1. If students want to review material, the video is easily accessible on youtube.
  2. Often students if they watch the video get curious and look up other videos of the dancers featured, providing them with inspiration.
  3. Students get excited about doing material which has been done for a performance, especially if it is by instructor/professional level dancers.
Most recently I taught the four counts of 8 snippet of the Silver Shadows performance at Frankie 95 featured at the 1:18 mark, and the class went over great!

When I teach these classes though I make sure to give credit where it is due and if I can’t show the video of the performance in the class, I post a link online of it for my students to see.

However as a warning, make sure if you teach in this method that you can not just perform, but also explain the material (in respect to look and technique) with your teaching partner before you are in class. Otherwise take this idea, experiment, and have fun with it!

Learning to Teach Swing Dance 101

One story I have frequently encountered in the last year of my swing dance travels is individuals being thrown into the situation of teaching swing dance lessons and having to learn how to teach… while teaching. This story mainly has been encountered from individuals coming from college swing dance clubs or smaller and more isolated scenes.  This trial by fire experience for some people can be often an intimidating and stressful experience.

With this post I strive to create a list of suggestions and ideas for people who may have recently found out they will be teaching in the near future or those who eventually strive to teach.

  1. If Possible Teach At First With An Experienced Partner: This is not always possible, but having a mentor in most fields ranging from musicians, business, to sports have numerous benefits. Their previous experience will help you avoid pitfalls they may have encountered when first teaching and you will not have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to teaching methods. In addition your partner will likely be able to fill in gaps for moments you do not expect in a lesson due to inexperience.
  2. Take Introductory Classes Again, Except Focus on The Teaching Aspect: The first large benefit of this is it will force you go over your basics so they are clean for demonstration purposes. Second you will learn examples of visual tools such as exaggerating the wrong type of motion and verbal analogies teachers utilize in class to educate students.
  3. Learn the Opposite Role: I hold the opinion that if you only know how to lead or follow as an instructor, you are missing half the equation. It is frustrating for a student to hear, “Well I don’t know what to say, they just follow it/they just lead it”. What learning the opposite role allows you to understand what possible things can be going wrong within the lead or following of a partnership. A side benefit of this is if you are decent enough at both roles, you gain the ability to teach by yourself.
  4. Practice Being An Effective Speaker: Being a swing dance instructor is not just knowing how to dance. The way you hold yourself when you teach means a world of difference between someone who is perceived as “They know what they are doing.” versus “This person looks nervous and unsure of themselves”. This means when practicing speaking to a class you; project your voice so the whole group can hear, do not have distracting extraneous motion such as fiddling with hair/clothes, and make eye contact with students in your class.
  5. Learn the Importance of Word Choice: How your phrase things to students in your class can mean the difference between them feeling encouraged and understanding what you are trying to convey or them feeling lost and frustrated. Often with beginner/introductory level classes I try to phrase everything positively and use social reasons for motivation. I can rattle on all day about the aesthetic and technique reasons why looking down is bad for ones dancing and leads in my class will continue looking down. However if I list the two points that it you don’t want your partner to get upset when you collide into objects and it reduces the chances they will want to dance with you in the future (social acceptance/safety) many leads in the class start looking around the room to take care of their partner.
  6. Get Feedback From Individuals In Your Class/Other Experienced Dancers Or Instructors: Often when teaching classes people make mistakes not intentionally but out of inexperience or situations out of their hand such as a group of students walking in 15 minutes late. While there will always be that chance of unexpected variables, feedback from all sources will help you realize your strengths and weaknesses as an instructor and allow you to fine tune your lessons.
  7. Continue to Improve Your Own Dancing: Do not fall into what I refer to as “Big fish in a little pond” syndrome. Mostly in smaller isolated scenes I notice people start teaching then immediately think they are above learning and their dancing stagnates. I am a firm believer in that students learn dance mostly visually and the better example you are, the easier it is for them to learn and the less chance they will develop bad habits they will have to fix later.
  8. Continue to Improve Your Teaching Methods: If you do step seven occasionally you will encounter in your swing dance learning perhaps better teaching models then the one you currently use for a six count basic or swingouts. Perhaps you have discovered a better analogy that gets people to not be as tense while they dance. Constantly being in the mindset of “What can I improve?” is always an effective way to becoming a better instructor.
Floorcraft lesson at Penn State

My Story

When I found out about two years ago that after a summer I was probably going to teach classes at my college, I was at first apprehensive but then I did two things that helped me out tremendously. First I took a 4-week series of beginner Lindy Hop as a follow and focused on mainly what analogies instructors used while they taught and how they demonstrated moves and concepts. Second I went up to instructors who I admired their teaching and asked them to give me a brief talk of what advice they would give to a new teacher.

I feel learning from those who had experience versus attempting to figure out how to teach on my own was the most pivotal concept in learning how to teach for myself and it is the message I recommend the most to those who are new to the process. I have two blog posts related to this topic listed here and here. Otherwise if you have any thoughts or suggestions, I encourage you to post them in the comment section below.

Edit: Updated August 6th, 2019 to have more inclusive language for followers and leaders.

Hiring Swing Dance Instructors: From a College Organizer Perspective

For this post I am addressing a different crowd then I usually do, this post is mainly geared is those who consider themselves swing dance instructors or those who are trying to become them. However, it will still be an entertaining read for those who are interested what goes in behind the curtain of how a college scene hires instructors.

To give you my background I’ve played a part of the contacting and hiring of instructors for five different workshops over the last two years at Penn State.  Two of them were a Lindy/Blues workshop, one was a Lindy/Balboa workshop, one was a Balboa workshop, and the last one was a Collegiate Shag workshop. Choosing one couple out of the myriad of potential instructors across the United States is never a simple task and I wanted to give some transparency to the reasons behind the choices myself and other officers in the organization I participated in made.

Background Information

The funding committee Penn State in the past funded 80% of total operating costs (upgraded to 90% this upcoming semester) of approved events. However here is the kicker, we only are allowed honorarium for four different individuals an academic year. We deal with this by having one instructor and one band for each semester. We don’t hire instructors who live outside of the United States simply because the funding committee will not cover travel outside of the United States and it is a nightmare of paperwork to deal with international honorarium.

What this means is are limited in how many instructors we can hire, but we have the ability to financially afford top-notch instructors who live anywhere in the United States. In addition we can offer these workshops at prices that make most national events look like a kings ransom.

First Half: Convincing Groups of People

The most annoying part of the process for myself is I have to convince two groups of people that a set of instructors is worth hiring. First is the whole council of Penn State Swing Dance Club officers, second is the allocations committee who votes to allocate us funds.

The council of officers for the Penn State Swing Dance Club consists of variety of dancers: seasoned dancers who attend events all over the East coast and keep in touch with the national community, dancers who travel once in a blue moon but generally only stick in state college, and dancers who are self-isolated and never dance outside of state college. All of them have different perspectives of who is a good dancer, what dances should be taught at a workshop, who would be a good fit for our club, and who would draw in the most out of town dancers. For instructors it has to be a set of them that all parties including myself can compromise on. Unfortunately the side effect of this is quality instructors who may be more old-school or just great instructors in general that are not in the national competition circuit may get passed over, this is especially true the further away they are from Pennsylvania.

The allocations committee is comprised of 8-12 people who for the most part have no dance experience whatsoever. Jerry Almonte’s post Your Bio Sucks though is something to take in account, last thing I need is something that looks ridiculous when I am trying to convince a group of people that two individuals are professional dance instructors worthy of tuition money. Having; a website, quotes in professional media such as newspaper reviews about performances/workshops taught by instructors, examples of your dancing on youtube, and a list of awards/honors received are all things that make things easier on our end to get funding.  I mentioned to Mike Roberts and Laura Glaess at the Lindy & Blues workshop they taught at Penn State this past fall, the easiest request hearing I had was with them. This was because I was able to show the committee the Broadway Melody performance they did at Lindy Focus which many of them were able to relate to and found impressive due to having seen “Singin’ In The Rain”.

Second Half: Criteria for the Choices Made

Now that you have the background for the resources my college scene has for hiring instructors and the different sets of people that have to approve the selection of instructors made, I want to go in why personally as an organizer have chosen instructors to present to the council of officers and eventually to the allocations committee.

First off my biggest rule is I do not hire somebody I have not taken classes from personally or at a bare minimum had several respected peers give me the seal of approval. I often contact friends in other colleges/scenes who have had those instructors and ask them to give me the inside scoop of; what it was like working with them, quality of instruction, and how they interacted with the community during their stay. Instructors talk about their experiences with organizers, it goes the other way around as well.

The two biggest criteria for hiring instructors comes down to teaching ability and how good they are at fostering an enthusiastic spirit for dance.

While dancing ability is a factor, what is more important for my community is the ability for the instructors to translate that to the students. This is often tricky at Penn State because of the unique nature of it being a college workshop, yet having ridiculously cheap prices you get people ranging from a typical newbie college student dancer to an advanced out of town dancer who just came into town for a rare chance to get a private lesson from a high quality instructor. This means I particularly look for instructors who thrive in a mixed-level classes environment.

The majority of the Penn State Swing Dance club college students are beginner to beginner-intermediate dancers who often self-isolate themselves to only dancing in Central Pennsylvania at best or only at the college at worst. This means the majority of our crowd has no idea what the national swing dance community is like and has a very narrow view on what is considered “good dancing”. When we hire instructors, whether they know it or not also carry the weight of being ambassadors of the swing dance community and a source of inspiration. We can show our neophytes all the youtube clips we want but, nothing beats the actual thing in flesh and blood. Often for many of our students these events inspire them to make their first trip to an event outside the state of Pennsylvania. Their experience at our workshops are often the difference between if they just remain state-college only dancer or get motivated to join our core of traveling dancers on the East coast.

The last reason which I consider a minor one would be national reputation within and outside the swing dance community.

For our events we like getting as many out-of-town dancers as possible, however unfortunately for the majority of dancers they only want to travel for people who are popular on youtube and/or well known in the national competition circuit. Having a good reputation in the swing dance community besides attracting out of town dancers also makes it easier to convince the council of officers of why a set of instructors is qualified.

Having a good reputation outside of the swing dance community makes is easier to convince the allocations committee of why a set of instructors are qualified as professional instructors. Commercials, appearances in music videos, and appearances in television shoes make an you easy shoe-in for an easy approval during an allocations hearing. In addition for our newbie friendly lessons during a workshop, it becomes easier for a dancer to drag convince their friend who has never danced before to come along.


I hope this gave a good overview of the process of how the selection of instructors for my college scene workshop works, in addition to the many factors that come into play during the process. I’d like to comment that most colleges have the ability to get a similar set-up due to their student activity fees and in some cases can get their entire events free under anti-drinking/alcohol-free programs run by their schools.

If you have any questions I encourage you to ask me in public on this blog or privately at my email address apache.danse@gmail.com.

Decision Trees and Newbies

The Problem

One of the hardest things I deal with when teaching newer dancers a.k.a newbies/novices is understanding their need for context-free and defined rules, yet not compromising my personal beliefs when it comes to dancing.

Probably the biggest philosophy I have when it comes to dance is to pay attention and respond to the music and your partner. Ignoring either is a cardinal sin in my book.  You might as well be dancing with a broomstick to a metronome if you forget either of those things.

Yet, newbies on the other hand just want to be able for the most part to get through a dance and not fall over, maybe learn a few “cool” moves if they get past that. The subtleties I care so much as someone who has danced Lindy Hop for years, will fall on deaf ears due to the general lack of context and holistic view newer dancers have.

I’ve found through trial and error when I have tried to explicitly present this philosophy I have it is either is dismissed as “something for advanced dancers/too difficult” or rarely accepted but in a limited understanding.


My friend John White over at Black Belt Lindy wrote a post the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition which made me think a lot about how I learned and how I taught lessons. Lately, this has been rolling around in my head even more due to I have been learning about Expert Based systems in an Artificial Intelligence class. One of the difficulties of building them is extracting “expert knowledge” from the experts themselves.

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert myself under the Drefyus model. However it got me to think of the idea, “How effectively am I taking my acquired skills and knowledge of the field of swing dance and translating it to people who are new to it can benefit the most?”

The Compromise

So what I do is give newbies who take my lessons a decision tree, essentially a manual or a guideline of rules in which some require prerequisites and others have priorities to navigate a dance. For example a high priority rule for a lead would be not to send your follow into other dancers or walls.

However the compromise is I hide subtleties in the lesson that allow the newer dancers who choose to stay after the lesson and dance or practice on their own to discover through trial and error. Because without the context of why those subtle ideas or lessons are important, they will likely fall on deaf ears.


What I would like for anyone who is teaching newer dancers to glean from this blog post is the following : Unless if your explanation for something comes with a funny story or is safety related (a.k.a. engaging muscles to not let arms out and prevent rotator cuff injuries), cut it from your lesson.

The majority of the time the newer dancers will lack a context to understand why those ideas you are presenting are important to their dancing experience.

School of Hard Knocks

Friendliness of the instructor, its a phrase that comes up constantly when people talk about why they liked a certain instructor or even hired a certain instructor. I am myself am guilty of that. As an organizer for a college club, after the quality of teaching abilities, usually one of the big factor of why I hire instructors is if they are good fit for my demographic a.k.a. college students.

However personally when it comes to instruction for myself, I could care less how friendly an instructor is. Maybe it is because of my grandfather raised me on too many kung fu movies where a good portion of the instructors believed in hard-work, fundamentals and the school of hard knocks.

Jackie Chan practicing Horse Stance.

There is a topic on yehoodi “Meanest things a dance instructor has ever said” that the topic of how mean or nice an instructor should be comes up.  Two quotes in this yehoodi topic from Damon Stone really stand out to me, the first one is.

“I’d rather someone be direct and even mean and brutal to drive home the point. I hate being coddled. I’m an adult, if I can’t take your honest opinion I don’t deserve to have you as a teacher and probably shouldn’t be taking lessons.”

I was actually talking to my roommate who teaches violin this past weekend and seeing the overlap in musical and dance instruction. He went into anecdote about when he used to take lessons in his younger years, from an instructor who had him play what he was instructed to practice the previous week at the beginning of each lesson. If he didn’t perform up to his instructor’s standards, his instructor would tell him to get the hell out and stop wasting his time.

I chuckled and responded if I I did that in any of my classes, I would probably get the reputation as the worst swing dance instructor on the East coast. His response to that statement struck a note with me though. He commented that; the weeks he earned his teachers ire, he worked harder then ever to improve.

The second quote by Damon that stuck out to me was,

“I’m not sure I’ll ever quite get why intermediate dancers and above are sensitive about their dancing. I mean beginners are just that they want to learn enough to get out on the floor and have fun. By the time you are intermediate you should know everything you need to do that.

If you are taking lessons after that point I’d assume it is because you really want to improve, you want to be a kick-ass dancer. I can’t imagine going into a jazz or ballet, or contemporary, hell even Hip-Hop class and expect the teacher to be all sunshine and rainbows.”

Now, I think the issue at hand is differing opinions. I have had friends in my international dance performance troupe with backgrounds in ballet, jazz, and et cetera go into horror stories about how strict and demanding their instructors were that would send most people I know reeling.

But those are all instructors who see the material they are teaching as a serious art form and if you use their time, they demand respect for their experience and the material they are teaching. However, I would say for the most part not out of disrespect but being truthful, that the swing dance community as a whole are hobbyists.

In result it is often difficult to offer a class with the same serious framework like ballet or music without potentially touching some nerves or hurting feelings. Even often when I hear people talking about other dancers within the community, its usually a long list of their strengths and they are loathe to point out weaknesses.

Personally, I want someone to tell me my dancing is garbage. I want someone to point out my weaknesses and criticize me harshly about them. For me, its not the words of encouragement but these harsh criticisms that drive me more then anything to work harder on my dancing. I want knowledge, not a self-esteem boost.

Slightly Related Clip (For those of you just using my blog to procrastinate):

At 7:30 is the type of instructor I would want..

Student’s Focus

One of the biggest problem I had when I taught my first larger classes (like 50ish people) was at times getting all of their attention so they could hear what my partner and myself had to say and demonstrate.

Over the last few years, I have witnessed some instructors creatively deal with this problem in their classes which I will list below.

Teaching Tricks to get Students to Pay Attention

  • Shave and a Haircut: Described on the wikipedia page as a “7-note musical couplet popularly used at the end of a musical performance, usually for comic effect.”
    The way to use it is teach it at the beginning of the class, then you clap out the rhythm whenever you want the students attention and they respond with either a stomp-off or clapping back the “two bits” (Ba-Ba) part. Repeat as necessary.
  • One, Two, Three, All Eyes on Me: Many of you may be familiar with this from grade school, where teachers sometimes employ this. It is a simple rhyme that grabs attention. The way to use it is at the beginning of class go over the rhyme, then during class employ it as necessary. I remember my grade-school teacher would just say the part and have us students reply “All Eyes on Me”.
  • Side By Side: I actually witnessed this for the first time when taking a class from Erik Robison in California. He explains at the beginning of class when he says the phrase “Side By Side” he wants follows to get to the right of their leads and for everyone to remain quiet and watch whatever he is demonstrating. Its great because the phrase initiates movement, so people who might be zoning out catches on they should pay attention and it gets people in a position to immediately start dancing afterward.
  • Observation Goggles: I got this from watching part of one of Mike Faltesek and Casey Schneider’s classes at Jammin’ on the James last year. At the beginning of their classes they explain the importance of paying attention to the body movement (they or other people you are trying to learn from)and translating it to yourself, they refer to it as putting your observation goggles on and demonstrate what they mean. I can only explain what  this looks like with this picture:
    Observation Goggles

    Its goofy but it works like a charm, especially among a younger crowd.

What I Do Personally

Well I have liked everything, so I combine a little of it all. At the beginning of classes that it is students I am unfamiliar with, I explain I have this thing called “Side By Side”. When I say that phrase to make it easier on both parts for myself teaching and students learning I ask them to:

  1. Follows stand to the right of the lead.
  2. Please remain quiet so other students can hear what I am saying.
  3. Put on your “Observation Goggles” and not just pay attention to what my footwork is doing, but my full body movement.

I’ve found combining both of them works extremely well, at least for myself.

If you have any tricks you use in your classes or noticed other instructors using that works well, please feel free to comment about them.

The Pitfall of Patterns

“Rock-Step, Triple-Step, Triple-Step”

Most people when starting to learn swing dance can remember a certain pattern they were taught in their introductory class, usually the “Rock-Step, Triple-Step, Triple-Step” pattern.Often there is this solid framework because an issue that John White writes about in his blog post Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition.

In the post he comments how many novice level dances will often look for hard and fast rules for swing dancing. However as many people learn quickly (especially follows) if you try to dance within only patterns, you are only getting a small subset of the dance known as the Lindy Hop.

Positives and Pitfalls of Patterns

Don’t get me wrong though, I am not saying that patterns are rubbish and should not be utilized in instruction or on the social dance floor. They are great at providing a simple model of dance where dancers can work on fundamental technique and isolate external variables that they would normally have to deal with and could crowd out their understanding of the issue.

However the important thing to convey is in fact that patterns are simple models that are not completely representative of the actual social dance floor. Groovy Movie actually lampoons the idea that you can completely learn swing dance through step patterns here at 3:00:

As a follow if all you try to do anticipate the patterns in class, if you dance with anyone outside of that class it can easily become a difficult dance as many new follows quickly learn. For leads if you just lead patterns you learned in a class, often one can technically be on time but still be completely ignoring the music.

The difficult thing for me as an instructor in beginner classes is still providing newer dancers patterns that provide them an isolated environment for them to get down steps to at least survive one social dance, yet still attempting to provide them with instruction technique and give them perspective of where to use these steps. It is a difficult compromise that I am always attempting to fine-tune each lesson.

The struggle for an dancer who moves on beyond the novice stage is often breaking free from this framework. I remember out in California one of my biggest struggles the first summer I was out there was not defaulting to the six-count footwork from open. I had to have several nights where I completely forbid it from my repertoire and forced myself to do other things.

I could ramble on about this topic for awhile, but I’m curious to hear the rest of your thoughts. But before that I will leave you with this quote.

“All fixed set patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability. The truth is outside of all fixed patterns.” – Bruce Lee [1]


[1] Mainly known for his prowess in the Martial Arts world, it is actually a not as well known fact that Bruce Lee was an excellent dancer as well and won the Crown Colony Cha-Cha Championship in China at the age of 18.

Guidelines for Instructors

For my college club out in Pennsylvania, I have written a rough-draft for a set of guidelines for being an instructor. This is mainly for new instructors to teaching, but it also functions as a personal checklist for experienced instructors. My goal when writing this was to only take up a page, yet still cover the key points for a good swing dance lesson. If you like it feel free to use/edit it for your club/organization. In addition please post any feedback you may have!

Expectations for a Swing Dance Instructor:

  • Show Up On Time: It looks unprofessional to show up late to your own lesson.  If you are going to be or are running late please inform an officer, preferably one in charge of setup.
  • Bring Your Own Music & Have Students Dance to It: Each person has different expectations of what is a ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ song is and most likely has a different repertoire of music then you do. Ensure you have the right tunes for the class you designed, by having them on you. In addition having students dance to music in class prepares them for the realistic situation of dancing socially, instead of with you counting/scatting.
  • Prepare For Your Lessons Beforehand: Unless if this is material you have taught before with this same person, meet up beforehand to coordinate a lesson plan. This especially is true for teaching a series. Doing this prevents possible miscommunication between teaching partners in the middle of a lesson.
  • Don’t Argue With Your Teaching Partner: Sometimes during a lesson you find out that you teaching partner and you learned something differently. Compromise and sort it afterwards or work it out calmly in front of the class, but maintain a positive learning environment.
  • Introduce Yourself at the Beginning of the Lesson: Beginning of the class is a good time to introduce yourself, set ground rules (especially if it’s a large class) and state your expectations for what the class will cover.
  • When Talking Project Your Voice Clearly and Don’t Look Down: Students tend to learn better when they can hear what their instructor is saying. Mumbling, looking down or talking too fast makes it it difficult for students to hear. In addition students may interpret it as you are nervous and are unconfident in what you are doing.
  • Balance Out Time For Explanations, Demonstrations, and Practice: A good lesson has a balance of all of these elements. Ever have a lesson that the teacher seemed to just talk the entire time? Don’t be that instructor.
  • Rotate Often:  We are teaching a social dance so we should have students dance socially. Whether if you are in a circle or lines have students rotate. For a circle it helps people try things with different partners. For lines it helps students in the back have a better view of the instructor. This rule goes double for classes with lead/follow imbalance.
  • Encourage Students to Ask Questions: Often students have questions that will help others in the class if answered. Fostering a positive environment where they are not shy about asking questions makes the class feel like a place that one can get involved in the learning process.
  • At End of Lesson Review Material, Motivate Students and Thank the Class: Review material so students can remember things from the beginning of your lesson. Since the whole point of lessons is preparation to dance encourage or even have a call to action for your students to put what you taught them to use. Lastly thank your class because they took time out of their daily schedules to attend your class.

Teaching Tool: Positive Reinforcement

One of the things I have seen teachers I admire do, is when teaching a class and they see someone doing something well, to acknowledge it in front of the class and in some cases have that person demonstrate it for the class.

What I have noticed when observing students who have this happen to them (and what I experienced the one time it happened to me):

  1. They get ecstatic. Lets face it, who doesn’t like positive attention.
  2. They usually become even more confident in the move or technique you were teaching to the class.
  3. You usually have a better chance of retaining them as a student.

In the case of point three, the few times I have done this when teaching at my college scene, I have usually seen the student I complimented stay the rest of the series and/or stay longer for the social dance in comparison to other students in the class.

Now I am not saying insincerely shower your students with compliments on a consistent basis.

I swear this wasn't hastily altered in paint....

Besides being facetious , students will eventually pick up your compliments hold no value. But if you see a student doing something well in your class, acknowledge it. It will make them a happy camper and more confident in their dancing abilities.