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Private Dancer: How to Get the Most Out of One-on-One Lessons

Hello Dear Danglers! I trust you all survived the delicious, delicious pie and your family insanity (FUNZIES!). Today, we’re chatting about how to get more bang for your buck during a private lesson. You work hard for the money, so make it count! With a little planning, you can turn that solo session into magic time.


When Should You Shell Out the Cash for a Private Lesson?

Well, whenever you want! (Hey – THANKS Captain Obvious!)
Sorry – let me narrow that down. Some great times to consider a private:


  • no group classes fit into your weird work schedule
  • you’re putting together a piece for an upcoming show
  • you’re really struggling with a few particular moves
  • you need to get your ass whooped (always happy to oblige!)
  • you’re creating a professional piece
  • you want to define your personal style (especially important in silks – the world does not need another cookie-cutter aerial act)
  • you just want me all to yourself – understandable! 😉


Plan Ahead – Fabulousness Takes Thought!

Even for your earliest training, come in with some direction (“I would like to learn the basic building blocks of trapeze” or “I would like to focus on moves that highlight my ability to sit on my own head” for example). Start with a list. Here’s how I structure my wheel privates:


  • Warm-up  – this is where I trot out moves I’m really comfortable with so Chris can nitpick
  • Medium skilz – a couple of medium-hard moves I’m working on. Not perfect, not sucky.
  • Ass Whoopers – tricks that need a lot of spotting or that I’m really struggling with. DON’T put these at the very beginning when you’re not warm enough, or at the very end when you’re too tired. About a third of the way through your lesson is the best time to bust ’em out!
  • Back to Medium Skilz – a couple of things I’m doing reasonably well or that I love to do (to make me feel better after the ass-tastic disaster that was Ass Whoopers)
  • New and Fabulous – one or two new things/variations on other moves, or a bit of choreography
  • Last call – conditioning, last fun move, or a pep talk when I wind up in a puddle on the floor wailing “I’ll neeeeeeeeeeever get it, I suuuuuuuuuuuuuck! Why do I dooooooooooooo this??!!!” This is Chris’s favorite part of class (favorite like a fork in the eye is a favorite).


I’ve certainly done my share of sessions with no planning, but I find I spend an alarming amount of time wracking my brain for what I need to work on, and staring off into space going, “uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmm…..” – NOT SEXY. Be sexy – come with a plan! It’s an awesome feeling to leave a private knowing you worked hard, stayed focused, and kicked some serious tushie. Love and pull-ups, Laura

PS – HEY! What do YOU want to hear about? Upcoming topics include training during pregnancy, training around an injury, and how to go pro. What else should we talk about? Lemme hear you!


And now, some footage of me in my beautiful wheel, Johannes. I still suck, but I’m sucking way less, and THAT’S the important thing. 😉



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19 comments on “Private Dancer: How to Get the Most Out of One-on-One Lessons”

  1. Belinda Washington Reply

    Oh my gosh, I loved your German wheel video. That was awesome! 😀

    I would like to see a blog post on your opinion of circus schools and whether or not you think they are necessary to go pro.

    • Lewitwer Reply

      Thanks so much, Belinda! 🙂 YES – fabulous idea! (Quick answer: not necessary at all to go pro!) Good one!

  2. Lizzy Reply

    Hi Laura!

    Another lovely piece!

    I would love to read your thoughts on selecting music for a new piece, particularly any legal considerations having to do with making money using a piece of music to which someone else owns the rights. Particularly if you need that piece of music to be a different length of time than it was orginally recorded to be.

    I enjoy your blog!


    • Lewitwer Reply

      Thanks Lizzy – that’s a great one! (Super quick answer? It’s 100% illegal to use music you have not purchased the rights to, even if you edit it. Having said that, it’s done all the time. More on this one super soon!!!!)

  3. Jen Reply

    How to go pro please, my silks are down what else can I do beside handstands and pull ups?

    • Lewitwer Reply

      Hi Jen! Lots of pilates and power (ashtanga) yoga are some of my favorites when I’m away from my silks for awhile. Anything that requires you to manipulate your own weight!

      • Jen Reply

        I would like to add when I go into privates with a teacher I do not know I often send them a YouTube of my current list of skills. I also make sure I have a list of tricks I would like to learn with the teacher input wanted to refine them and make them better.

  4. T Reply

    I might add, that there is NOTHING more frustrating to your private lesson instructor than you coming in and going “i don’t know, show me something i haven’t learned yet”…for an hour…it makes us feel like a red light working girl.

    • Lewitwer Reply

      I teach a lot of students passing through NYC for a few days, and I’m never quite sure what they know! That’s when I beccome Detective Laura! 😉

  5. Michelle Hutchinson Reply

    Love seeing the pride in your video, and your comment, ‘It was a good day for training’. What an awesome feeling!

    • Lewitwer Reply

      Thanks Michelle!!! I was super proud of myself that day (the stuff with no hands is incredibly scary for me). 🙂 It IS an awesome feeling!

  6. Kate Reply

    Hi Laura,

    I love your blog – it’s so inspiring. Just wondering if I could ask your advice about the benefits of private vs. group lessons for beginner?

    I’m 27 and started taking silks and trapeze classes in August when I lived in Chicago, 30mins away from an awesome circus school. I now live in the UK and my nearest circus school is in London about 2-3 hours away :-(. I’m determined to continue though… Which do you think would be more productive 1 private lesson every 2-3 weeks or trying to get in for a weekly group lesson?

    Thanks again for a great site!


    • Lewitwer Reply

      Thank you Kate! 🙂 For beginners, group lessons are really the way to go. When you find yourself needing more personal attention or wanting to work on different things than the group, that’s the time to start looking into privates. Consistency counts, especially early on, so weekly is absolutely best. Hope that helps!

  7. Tolly Reply

    Hey Laura! Aerialist here in Austin, TX — I’m friends with Lydia, so I’ve heard your voice on her iPhone videos before. 😉

    Anyway, I am an avid reader of your funny, inspiring, and SPOT ON blog — I’ve turned to it so many times! I would love to read a post on training during pregnancy. I’ve been doing aerial for two years now, and have just started performing — which I adore and don’t want to stop! But I’m also 30 now, and my husband and I are feeling we’re getting somewhat close to baby-makin’ time, if you know what I mean.

    However, I’m so scared that I’ll have to take months and months off, and lose all the strength I’ve gained from training! So, if you have any examples of aerialists who have trained during their pregnancies, and/or have taken some time off to go have their babies, and have THEN come back to be the badass danglers they always were, I would be sincerely grateful.

    Yay! Keep on doing what you do, Laura! Hope I get to meet you someday!


    • Lewitwer Reply

      Hi Tolly! Thank you so much!!!! I’m working on a series about aerial work & the behbehs as we speak!!! 🙂

  8. Deidra Reply

    Hi Laura,

    I’m curious on your thoughts of when/how to build a private clientele?

    I’ve been teaching aerial for about 3 years, (taught gymnastics for the past 18 years) and I’m thinking of starting a more private lesson client base. I currently work for a studio and under contract and moral principles I want to make sure I don’t take any clients from there, but would like to build my own private based business.
    Any thoughts or suggestion on navigating that transition would be great.


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