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[Detail] Cover of "How to Dance," 1878


Although the majority of dance manuals in this collection are designed for beginners, some instructors developed guidelines for others to teach dancing. Frank Clendenen offers two guides that provide instructions for instructors with the "Treatise on Elementary and Classical Dancing," which offers technical basics and "The Art of Dancing; Its Theory and Practice," which promotes the physical benefits of dancing.

Other guides in this collection address more practical matters that are often associated with teaching. C.H. Cleveland's "Dancing at Home and Abroad" includes information about selecting a building for teaching dance, choosing music, monitoring student progress, and managing balls. Horatio Grant's "How to Become Successful Teachers of the Art of Dancing . . .," on the other hand, suggests how to open classes and conduct private lessons. Grant also offers details such as the distinction between how men and women learn in dance classes: "It has been my experience that gentlemen have more trouble in acquiring the art of dancing . . . from the fact that they have to gain the knowledge of guiding their partners . . . but if both are accomplished dancers, the gentleman is not conscious of leading the lady," (page 5).

  • Imagine that you were going to teach someone a skill that you are good at (drawing, telling a joke, reading, etc.). How would you explain the steps involved in the skill? Write out a list of steps.
  • Imagine that you were helping this person teach a third person this skill. What would you add to your instructions?
  • What do you think makes a good teacher?
  • What do you think makes a good student?
  • How do these guides for instructors differ from the manuals written for beginners in their presentation of dancing?
  • How else might potential dance instructors gain this information?
  • What information might an instructor want that is not available in these guides? What potential situations are not discussed?
  • Do you think that these guides would help someone become a successful dance instructor? Why or why not?