We can probably all agree that being a great dancer does not necessarily translate to being a great dance teacher. Teaching is an art all its own. But if you put in the work, you can one day instruct and inspire young dancers just as your mentors and teachers did for you! Here’s some advice for those who aspire to pursue a career in dance education.
1) Keep taking class. A good teacher never stops learning, practicing, and growing.
2) Start assisting. Reach out to your dance teachers and ask if you can assist their classes. This will give you both experience and mentorship. If you’re lucky, you might eventually get the opportunity to sub a class in your teacher’s absence.
3) Practice. Get together with a group of friends, younger siblings, or neighbors and try teaching a casual mini dance class. You’ll get to practice preparation, flexibility, patience, constructive critique, and communication. You can also ask the dancers for feedback on your teaching after class.
4) Understand your values. What qualities make a good dance teacher? What teachers inspired or challenged you and why? Make a list of the attributes that you hope to apply to your own teaching.
5) Study. Read books about dance, watch YouTube videos, research historical choreographers, understand how to read music, and learn a bit about human anatomy. All of this will supplement your breadth of knowledge, expertise, and understanding as a teacher.
6) Consider higher ed. Many colleges and universities offer degrees in dance education. You’ll learn everything from pedagogy (teaching methods) to dance history, kinesiology, and choreography.
A great way to get a sense of what it’s like to be a dance teacher is…to talk to your own dance teacher! Ask him or her for just thirty minutes of their time so you can pick their brain—What is your favorite part about teaching? What’s the most challenging? What was your path to becoming a teacher? If you’re already working as a dance teacher or teaching assistant, share with us some of your own experience and advice in the comments section below.