Coaching from a world champion enhances dance lessons

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Karina Smirnoff, left, demonstrates the intricacies of a dance move in a coaching session with student Jeanne Hammel. SANDRO VIRAG

From time to time, Hilton Head Ballroom Dance Studio brings in world-renowned teachers and coaches to work with competitive students. They teach both private and group lessons.

Most recently, Karina Smirnoff from "Dancing with the Stars" was at the studio to prepare students for their upcoming competitions. Not everyone gets the chance to learn from a world champion, but the students were very lucky to have such a high-profile dancer in their midst.

It is a totally different learning experience to have coaching from a world champion rather than your everyday dance lesson. The coaching session is concentrated and compact in knowledge and practical application.

When Karina is demonstrating the new material with her body movement, it is the best learning tool for a dancer. The dancer can actually see how the movement should be executed and performed correctly.

The coach has the advantage of looking in from the outside to evaluate the partnership, the connection and the technique between students and instructors. She has the ability to work with both to improve their partnership.

An instructor often cannot see the bigger picture when he or she is in the picture. The coach can address individual problems as well as problems that challenge the partners.

To be able to dance with a world champion allows the student to feel what it really means to connect with their partner. Leading and following is so much easier if there is a proper connection.

It is very valuable to have a world champion like Karina coaching because she has invested so much time and money into her own career that she can now help others. It is inspirational to have a coach sharing years of experience and dance to help make someone else a better dancer.

In order for a dancer to become better, it is good to be challenged by stepping up to a higher level and learning from instructors or coaches other than your own.

Sandro Virag is a partner and instructor at Hilton Head Ballroom Dance Studio of Hilton Head, located in Bluffton at Seaquins Ballroom. hiltonheadballroom.com

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