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My Experience as a Dance Instructor

It all starts at the end of May, the telephone starts ringing and different institutions ask for my services so I can take a dance to the Cusco’s great fiesta.

As an instructor I have to prepare different dances proposals and make different budgets including typical costumes and music.

One of the things we always think of when teaching is: “knowing how to dance, does not imply teaching”. It’s a big difference, to have patience for each of the dancers and to use different methodologies that we learn from the experience in this work.

So before I start teaching, I give a few rules that will make the dance come as expected when it is time to perform. These rules help to have a good relationship between the instructor and the participants, for example when I started as an instructor I was 18 years old which did not prevent me from knowing how to take groups that were up to twice my age or more. With these rules everything is made it easier.

Bailando ante un juez (David Knowlton)
Bailando ante un juez (David Knowlton)

The most important values within a dance are respect and responsibility. As expected young people have a lot of energy they spend playing doing kid stuff. As an young instructor, I also share the games with them.

I am one more of the dance and I cannot fail them. As the day of the presentation approaches, the atmosphere becomes a little pressed and from time to time I make them mad them with rigor since they do not always perform well the steps to enable us to continue advancing? They also deserve a “Damn good” when they dance well.

One of the things I like least as an instructor is when there should be a pre selection of participants. In this situation I am nobody’s friend. I have to maintain a serious profile and remember that I should bring the most brilliant dance to the fiesta. Usually the voice comes to me at the end of the dance, as I go on giving directions and go back to review the dance over and over again.

One day before the presentation, I have to fulfill my part of the contract and bring the dance costumes for the last rehearsal. I spend a lot of time in the typical costume shop to be able to order the clothes properly and get the best ones. It is very difficult on these dates since the costume shops are crowded with many people.

After loading the bags of suits in the back and deliver the costumes to the participants, I feel more relaxed and free while waiting for the next day and the performance. At the scheduled time I am on helping some participants and giving them the last touches to their costumes.

We talk and spend time among my cast of musicians and dancers as one dance after another advances to the stage. Well uniformed with traditional ponchos and chullos we are ready. It is time to gather all the participants and give them the last indications.

At this moment I give a small speech reminding us how we built the dance, the rehearsals until late at night, the anger, and in the end why they are dancing. Then we all join hands and we do a cheer with applause of motivation.

We are now on stage in the eyes of thousands of people and the jurors. My hair stands on end with each strike of the bass drum. On the stage I give directions to the dancers with signs and occasionally shouts so that their performance comes out well.

Everything ends and we take a photo of the whole troupe as a souvenir. To finish everything, I have to collect the typical costumes to return to the store and only then can take a good rest.

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