Coaching a Winning Performance

Coaching a Winning Performance

By Ma’Shuqa Mira Murjan

A coach is the equivalent of a private tutor, a personal trainer, a mentor. Applied to dance, coaching by a master teacher shows a commitment of the instructor to help the dancer to become a more successful dancer, one who can be creative and develop her own signature style of dance. Coaching requires a commitment to empowering people, to helping people by facilitating discovery of their own personal style. The coach uses guidance through an organized series of introspection and development of dance stylization to fit the dancer’s personality and body type.

The following is a “job description” for an effective coach. As you consider the dance instructors who are teaching, see if you can identify some who will fit the description and work for you.


Although this would appear to be a very basic and obvious requirement, unfortunately it is not uncommon to find an instructor teaching who has a chip on his or her shoulder about some aspect of the dance environment or community. A good attitude toward all people is an essential prerequisite to effective coaching. A good coach is supportive and encouraging of your personal needs and style.


Giving encouragement is one of the most important functions of a coach. A professional coach should encourage risk taking, assertiveness and the ability to “sell” oneself and one’s ideas. All of these behaviors will be difficult for someone who may not want to foster competition for performing and teaching opportunities, and is threatened by the prospect of developing a professional dancer because they fear the competition. A good coach should provide the training and encouragement necessary for the development of a professional peer.


A coach should help the student to learn that she can and should be accountable for her actions. This will ultimately teach her to act, rather than be acted upon and create more options for herself. It will take patience, reinforcement and the understanding that mistakes will be made during development.


Coaching someone for performance involves more than technical excellence. It also requires a sensitivity to the way different cultures think, value, and appreciate. It also involves sensitivity to the learning needs and style of the student:

  • What is the protégé’s level of technique?
  • What instructional methodology is the student comfortable with (i.e., video feedback, critique, planning for choreography, etc.)?
  • How much adaptation will be required to get the student ready to perform?
  • How can the student learn to participate in interactive teaching to function as a maturing dance professional?


A coach should be a person’s professional confidante to help her define her dance career goals. For example, if the protégée wants to become an accomplished dancer, she needs to develop her own objectives and goals to be able to tell when she has achieved those goals. If, for example, the protégée wants to become a recognized professional dancer, then she must consider what special qualities she brings to her dance and determine her professional role in the dance community. A coach should be willing to share and provide information about professionalism in the dance.

Having completed her MBA, Ma*Shuqa Mira Murjan now divides her time between her career as a university professor of business, her work as a business consultant, and her performing, teaching and continued study of Oriental dance. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Administration.

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