Unsolicited (negative) feedback in classes.

Unsolicited (negative) feedback in classes.

  • Is it acceptable?
  • Is it useful?
  • Is there an alternative?

This week in a drop-in class I received some unsolicited (negative) feedback from one of the follows while in rotation. This had some undesirable immediate effects on the rest of my evening. Now, I’m used to feedback on my dancing, especially when I’ve asked for it or encouraged it in a focused practice session or workshop but in a drop class?

My opinion is that in drop-in classes it’s not acceptable from other students.

Is it acceptable or useful?

  • The instructors/teachers are teaching the class. They have a plan, they are observing and adapting to how their students are completing the moves.
  • In any class, it’s probable that neither the lead or the follow know the other’s ability.
  • That our personal focus could be a different aspect of our dancing
  • That comments can, without care or knowledge have detrimental psychological effects

So, I’d say not.

On this occasion, I ignored the comment, thanked the follow for the dance and danced with the next follow. But it inspired me to write this.

Is there an alternative?


Take responsibility for your own dancing.

  • If something isn’t working, ask your partner if you can try again.
    “I didn’t quite get that right, can we have another go please?”. I take ownership that the move/shape didn’t work and try again.
  • Ask the instructors/teachers.
    “I’m finding this bit difficult/I’m out of time/position, could you show/explain it again please” I take ownership and ask for help.
  • Encourage your partner on what went well.
    “That move felt really nice”, “I liked the way did that”
  • Smile at them and say thank you.

What do think?

Have you experienced unsolicited feedback?

How did you react?


  1. Yep, I had a little criticism from an experienced follow, who explained that I should ‘lead stronger’. She’s probably right, but it threw me for the rest of the night, and for weeks afterwards. There are ways of encouraging someone, but criticism rarely works. Got over it now though!

  2. As a pretty inexperienced dancer, it can be utterly crushing to receive negative comments in class from leads (however well meaning their intention). But in my experience it is even more devastating to receive this sort of feedback on the dance floor of a social (i.e. fun environment). Such feedback nearly floored me at last year’s Birmingham Swing Festival. Thankfully my lovely companions helped me to recover rather than allowing me to reach for my coat and call it a night.

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