There Is a Right Way to Teach Ballroom Dancing: Ask Two Nigerians!

Nigerian ballroom dancers discover the difference structured training and certification make in their dancing and teaching.

Date added to ADN: Wednesday, Jul 10 2013
Originally Published: Wednesday, Jul 10 2013
By Diane Jarmolow


Recently I taught my "Get Certified!" course at this year's Dance Vision Dance Camp in Las Vegas. I was scheduled to examine a couple for their Silver International Latin certification. The dancers expressed concerns about their readiness, so we arranged a meeting.

The couple turned out to be Ukalina Celine Opuwari and Nnamdi Nweke from Lagos, Nigeria. UK and Ice (their nicknames) work for the Society for the Performing Arts in Nigeria. There they perform and teach many styles of dance, from ballet to ballroom to hip hop.

During our meeting, I got to know them, their background and their dream of developing ballroom dancing in Nigeria. They shared that one of their greatest obstacles: Nigerian culture is not big on structure.

So it's not surprising that Nigerian dance training isn't structured either. UK and Ice want to grow ballroom dancing in Nigeria the right way—with a program that is organized and thorough.

Excited to support them in their effort, I invited the pair to come train with me in the San Francisco Bay Area before returning to Nigeria. They agreed, took the 14-hour bus ride from Las Vegas to Oakland, and worked with me for an entire week.

At first UK and Ice struggled with the formal ballroom terminology and the detailed amounts of turn, footwork and leads in the dance manual. But, like learning a new language, soon they were speaking the dance elements fluently.
Through this process, their dancing started to clean up, becoming more precise and articulate. They were stunned at the difference studying from a manual made in their dancing. They could clearly see how this would change their teaching methodology as well.

I'm committed to helping UK and Ice establish a systematic way of teaching ballroom dancing in Nigeria. They have seen how empowering studying the dance syllabus and understanding every aspect of a figure can be. While they both have incredible natural ability, charisma, and artistry, they realize these attributes are not enough to excel in the world of Ballroom and Latin dancing.

I respect UK and Ice for their willingness to think in a new way and take on the work to achieve their dream. With their new certifications and pride in their knowledge and accomplishments, I'm confident these two will attain their goal. Keep your eyes out—you're sure to be seeing more of this dynamic duo! Watch them dance a Rumba here.

Check out Diane's blog here

About the Author:

Diane Jarmolow is a pioneer in the field of ballroom dancing. She founded the first vocational training for ballroom dance teachers, the Ballroom Dance Teachers College (BDTC). Based in Oakland, California, BDTC has trained hundreds of people to become successful dance instructors, and Diane's BDTC-in-a-Box is being used to train teachers in studios throughout North America and abroad.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the AccessDance Network. Be aware that imagery is copyrighted and often licensed for use on AccessDance only. Copying of images is strictly prohibited.

smalladnseal.png Contributing Member

Ballroom Dance Teachers College
Oakland AND San Francisco, CA 94616

Related Topics

Training & Continuation

Do you need to dust off your dancing shoes or mend the soles? Either way, you need more Dance in your life. Restarting, relocating, training, and technical development are great excuses to dance more. So go! Go on and Dance!

Competitive Dancing (DanceSport)

Bring it on! And strut your stuff! Bring your dancing to the next level. Join the glitz and glamour of competitive Dancesport. Showcase your skills and WOW the crowd. Sizzling or sophisticated - If you got it, flaunt it.

Career Development

Bring joy, passion and confidence into the lives of others! Consider training to become a dance educator and change lives for the better.

Meet New People

Get out and be part of the fun. Meet new people through the universal language of dance. Dance lessons will get you out on the dance floor with your friends or maybe you'll catch the eye of that special someone.