If you’re involved in the Latin Dance community at all, you’ve probably seen ads on your Facebook or Instagram with big name dancers and instructors inviting you to find out more about their new project and have the opportunity to train with them.
An ad with Fernando Sosa (founder of Tropical Gem Dance Company), talking about his new project and an upcoming webinar where he would answer your questions about dance popped up on my Instagram one day and I registered for it, curious about what he had to say and the sell at the end.
What’s The Project?
I missed most of the webinar but I was there in time for the sell – the Sosa Style World Mastery program. I had heard of World Mastery before – the concept is like Master Class. If you haven’t heard of Master Class, it’s a platform where celebrities and experts in different fields give online classes. You can study cooking with Gordon Ramsey, voice with Christina Aguilera, writing with Malcom Gladwell and so on.
World Mastery is focused more on instructors learning someone’s syllabus and then teaching it in their own schools than individual enrichment. That was the big sell at the end of the Sosa webinar: The program would give you essentially a year’s worth of classes for your students and allow you to market yourself as teaching Sosa style.
Fernando Sosa ranks high on my list of favorite dancers and choreographers, so learning from him, even online, seemed worth it to me. I signed up for the program (more on the price later), and am about a third of the way through the 36 video series of the “Beginner” module right now.
A few years ago, I was skeptical about learning dance online. I thought that you couldn’t really get all of the details and important things, like connection and technique, if the class was not conducted in person. But learning to dance through media has been around for a while. There were books printed in the 19th century and earlier to teach ballroom dances. I found a pamphlet from the 1920s at my grandmother’s house that taught the basics of a few popular dances, complete with pictures of footsteps showing you the figures. There are endless VHS tapes and DVDs teaching all kinds of dance.
With the prevalence and ease of learning dance online though, I’ve come around and have learned a lot from video tutorials. So far, Sosa’s classes have been just as instructive and informative to me as an in person class, and I can go back and rewatch the lessons multiple times instead of just getting a combo video at the end of a class or workshop.
Each Sosa lesson breaks down shine footwork and partnerwork, with Sosa and his partner Tatiana explaining some of the usual mistakes that people make during each move and how to correct them. The videos run about 12–20 minutes long, which I like. It doesn’t feel like a slog to sit down and watch one, but Sosa and Tatiana pack a good amount of material into a short video. When I go and teach the lesson to my class, it usually takes about an hour to cover everything.
I have had my own syllabus for a while, but I’m enjoying the new material and giving my teaching a makeover. I really appreciate Sosa’s method – his classes have a clear and logical progression that emphasizes repetition of concepts while adding new things to keep students excited. He also adds a lot of teaching tips that add dynamics to the class. He stresses the importance of constantly asking your students questions to reinforce the lessons, e.g. quizzing students on the count that a lady should step forward on a cross body lead. He also recommends singing the steps as you call them instead of just counting “1-2-3, 5-6-7,” which makes the class more entertaining and helps the auditory learners retain the information.
The classes are in Spanish with English subtitles, so I’m also learning a lot of new Spanish vocabulary words. (Equilibrista is tightrope walker for the non-Spanish speakers)
Are The Classes Worth It?
The program requires an investment of time, energy and money. It’s not the cheapest way to learn, but for me anyways, a larger monetary investment makes me take it very seriously. I’m spending time watching the videos, taking notes, practicing and teaching the lessons to my students. I’m treating it like I would a college course and I’m a little too excited that once I’ve paid for all the lessons, I’ll get a diploma signed by Sosa.
This is my experience so far with the World Mastery as a current instructor. I could see it benefiting an aspiring instructor or a dancer who wants to ‘deepen their practice’ – to borrow a phrase from the yoga world. I know a lot of people who have gone through yoga teacher training programs with no intention of teaching afterward.
I could also see that this would not be for everyone and like anything, it’s not perfect. It’s expensive – I’m not sure the actual price because World Mastery has all kinds of deals and promos, but you’re looking at at least the cost of a credit hour or two at an American university. It requires self-discipline and motivation, especially if you’re doing it by yourself and don’t have a partner. There’s no interaction with the teacher, so if you have questions that are unanswered in the videos, they will stay that way. There’s also no interaction with other students in the program, so you do feel a little isolated.
But on the whole, it’s working for me and if you’ve seen the World Mastery ads on social media and are curious about the concept, hopefully this answered some of your questions.
P.S. Terry, I’m waiting for your World Mastery program!