Steps On Toes

Steps On Toes

1 employee
42 years in business

About this pro

I have been teaching dance since 1980 and have never had a student I couldn't teach.  I love the challenge of figuring out the best teaching style for each student.  I've worked with students who could not learn from other teachers, as well as students with physical and mental blocks to learning. I focus on the basics of connecting to a partner, leading and following skills, and how to find the beat if music is a challenge.  I teach social dance, not competitive dance.  I offer a variety of Swing including Lindy Hop, as well as Salsa, Social Ballroom, Country Western, Cajun and Zydeco, Blues, and Club Dancing (freesyle).  I offer private lessons only, for couples, indeviduals, and groups of friends.  You can find more information on my website

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Oakland, CA 94610
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What is your typical process for working with a new student?

The first lesson takes 90 minutes to 2 hours because it includes an explorer session, an extensive interview that teaches me about your goals, your history about dance and learning in general, and any blocks to learning that might get in your way.  This way I can tailor the lessons to fit your way of learning and address any issues that may have gotten in the way with other teachers.

After the first lesson (following the Explorer Session) I'll have a good feel for how many lesson you will need to reach your goals.  At that point new students pick a package that fits their goals and budgets.

Scheduling lessons once a week works best for most people, but you can come more or less frequently as you wish.  My schedule is flexible, so you can pick a regular time that works for you and lock it in, or come at a different time if your schedule is inconsistent.

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

I came to dance with a background in couples counseling and mediations, along with experience teaching self defense to people with physical disabilities and rape survivors.  This background comes in handy for working with students who have physical and mental blocks to learning dance.  I am also able to teach couples how to practice without getting on each other's nerves.  I learned to dance through a variety of classes and workshops with different teachers over the years. I still take master classes when teachers who interest me come to town.  I learn new dances if they are popular enough for new students to want to learn. 

Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.

I have packages of 10, 15, or 20 lessons and I also customize for students who don't fit those paramiters.  I don't offer group classes, except for group private lessons.  Depending on the package, an hour lesson costs anywhere from $100 to $150.  Half hour lessons are also available and I occasionally work out trades for people who have skills I need such as I.T. or chiropractic.

How did you get started teaching?

I learned ballroom and swing for fun during the 70s when there was no place to partner dance.  My partner and I therefore styled our dance to fit disco music so we could go dancing and people thought we were doing some new state of the art disco partner dance.  People started asking us if we were teachers and that's how I got started. It didn't occur to us to just learn disco partner dance because we wanted to be Fred and Ginger!

What types of students have you worked with?

Pretty much anyone except children (unless they are mature enough to learn like adults).  Although I have worked with advanced students, my passion is for reaching the people who thought they couldn't learn to dance, so I mostly target brand new beginners.  I've worked with adults of all ages, some with disabilities.  My studio is not wheelchair accessable, so all of my student have been able to walk on their own.  I've worked with many students whose learning styles are so unique that no other teacher was able to get through to them.

Describe a recent event you are fond of.

Lindy in the Park is a weekly event in San Francisco that is one of my favorite things to do.  I've missed very few Sundays in 20 years because it is so joyous.  I often bring students there as well.  After dancing, many of us go out together for lunch.  The friendly crowd is always interested in visitors and new commers, so new students can feel as if they are part of the community the first day they attend.

What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?

Everyone learns differently and most teachers teach they way they themselves learn.  Interview the teacher first and find one that teacher the way you learn.  Also, not everyone knows what they really want at the beginning.  Often people think ballroom is a necessary foundation so they'll say they want to learn ballroom when what they really want is Swing, or Salsa.  Make sure your teacher asks the kind of questions that will get you to your real goal.  Finally, if you are not a natural, take private lessons BEFORE you take group classes. Group classes can teach you new steps, but they can't teach you HOW to dance.  Learn the basic principles of leading and following in your chosen dance first.  Then you can use group classes to increase your repertoire.  You'll save in the longrun. 

What questions should students think through before talking to teachers about their needs?

Your teacher may not know how to figure out what you really want to learn, so think about your end goal.  What do you envision for yourself once you have learned to dance.  If your chosen dance is a challenging one, think about learning an easier one first.  If you don't know enough to know the difference, arm yourself with questions to ask your teacher.  How hard is it to learn this dance?  What would you recommend I start with if not this one?