The art of dance teaching

by frank-stuart

Do you love dancing? How would you like to make a career out of your love of dance? Not everyone will be lucky enough to be part of an exclusive stage company, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a comfortable living teaching dance, and feel a great deal of satisfaction in seeing students develop into better dancers.

What’s involved in teaching dance? Clearly you should be a proficient dancer. You’ll also need to understand the technical aspects of dancing and to have good communication and education skills at your command.


A dance instructor should have a sound technical and theoretical knowledge of dance. Studying the history of dance may help you form an understanding of what motivates people to dance and may also help you pass on the rich history of dance to students. While the truth is lost in the mists of time, theories about the origins of dancing range from its ability to enhance group bonding to its use in healing rituals.


Of course you need to have the technical ability to perform the steps you are teaching. Once you have decided which styles of dance you are interested in teaching, you should focus on practising them. Keeping your own dancing skills sharp will help you to confidently demonstrate steps to students. Dance teachers should also have a sound understanding, both intellectual and physical, of music and rhythm, posture and movement, appropriate exercises, and choreography.


Even if you are a superb dancer, you won’t have much success in teaching students how to dance without learning some effective teaching methods. The art of teaching dance is quite complex and requires a variety of skills, including:

  1. Assessing students’ dancing skills. The way you teach dance will be largely determined by your students’ level of ability. You will need to tailor programs that are suitable for the skill level of your students, so they can gradually develop into better dancers.
  2. The ability to communicate effectively. Students will usually have an inferior understanding of dance to their instructor, which is why being able to communicate in a comprehensible manner is essential. As a dance teacher, you will need to be able to explain and demonstrate dance steps in a way that is easy for your students to understand.
  3. Setting and achieving goals. Each student will have a different goal. You might have a child who wants to work on steps for a school play, or a dancer who is looking to enter a competition, or an engaged couple who just want to learn how to waltz before their wedding day. It’s your job to set up a plan to help your students achieve these goals in a reasonable timeframe.


If teaching dance seems like the kind of job you would enjoy, then have a look at the Bachelor of Dance Education offered by ACPE which could put you on the road to a career as a dance instructor. After completing your degree, your career options might include dance studio instructor, primary or secondary school dance teacher, curator, performing arts administrator, art program coordinator, or recreational dance teacher.

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