So you’re thinking of becoming a dance teacher, eh? Congrats! It’s an awesome job. It’s challenging, creative, and hugely rewarding.
Besides knowing a thing or two about dance, however, there is a long list of skills you’ll need in order to thrive at this job. Don’t worry, you either have a lot of these skills already, or you’ll be able to figure it out and learn as you go!
Sure, you could hire somebody to do this, but it would be much faster for you to do it yourself. I used to get somebody else to do my editing until I FINALLY decided to bite the bullet and learn how to use the Audacity editing program. You can read all about that little journey here. After an initial couple of hours of watching YouTube videos and note-taking, editing is a breeze, and actually a little bit fun!
I cannot explain how important it is to be able to successfully communicate your thoughts in every single situation in your entire life, but here’s how you’ll need it for dance. You need to be able to communicate to your dancers how a step works and how to get better. You’ll need to be able to communicate with your directors and parent-run boards when they ask for reports. If part of your job involves dealing directly with parents (for example, with the parent of a soloist), you need to communicate your expectations for the soloist and communicate scheduling times for rehearsal. If you can’t explain your thoughts or expectations, life’s going to get very difficult.
The choreography part might suck at first. But it’ll get better with experience. You just need to keep an eye out for what works, what can be improved upon, and what needs to go. When I started, I wasn’t that great at gauging the appropriate difficulty of choreography that was needed for my dancers. With time, I’m getting better at that. Also, be okay with knowing that you’re not going to be as good as other choreographers and get ready to learn.
There is nothing worse than a dance teacher that doesn’t have their act together! Whether you’re a teenage teacher or a veteran, all dance instructors are expected to do the same work administratively. This means reading emails and following the instructions (from your directors, from competitions, etc), using a calendar to make sure you never miss an appointment, planning ahead of time so you’re not scrambling to think of stuff to do for the last 15 minutes of class, all of it! You’re doing a grown-up job, so you have grown-up stuff to do. Sorry, kid.
Personal (business) finances
Speaking of grown-up stuff… I detest doing anything to do with business accounting. If there was one thing I could just never do again, it would be that. But until I’m rich enough to hire somebody out, I gotta do it. That means invoicing, being upfront about what people owe me, making a personal budget, and claiming my income. It’s really annoying and tedious, but it’s one of those things you just have to figure out.
Don’t be afraid to sell yourself as a great dance teacher! Ask for a decent wage for your teaching hours, don’t sell yourself short, believe in your abilities to teach and choreograph, share your talents with the world, let everyone know you are great! If you want to be taken seriously as an instructor, or you want to get more work, you need to be willing to promote yourself. It’s not bragging, it’s just letting people know that they’d be missing out if they didn’t have you!
I hope I didn’t scare you off from teaching. Like I said, teaching dance is hugely rewarding and so much fun. But like most jobs, it’s a lot of work. #worthit
To my dance teachers out there, what other advice would you give to the young hopefuls?