Dance Teacher jobs(Also known as Dance Teacher, Ballet Teacher, Modern Dance Teacher)
A dance teacher communicates theory and practice of any one of a number of dance disciplines to students. Since time immemorial humankind has danced. Be it for celebration, social interaction or to express a deeper concept related to the human condition that is inexpressible through other means, dance is inextricable from our existence in the same way as music and conversation. Over time, dances have become highly complex and specialised, often taking years of training in order to reach an intermediate level; other times they are simple and to be enjoyed as part of a group celebration. We rely on dance teachers to show us the steps and begin to bring out the potential in our bodies. With a greater emphasis on personal development and more leisure time than ever before, more and more people are turning to dance classes as a means of keeping fit, meeting new people and discovering more about themselves. Popular forms of dance being taught today include:
- Contemporary dance
- Ballroom dance – foxtrot, ballroom, salsa, merengue, cha cha.
- Latin dance – salsa, samba, forro, lambada, tango.
- Urban dance – breakdance (B-boying), capoeira, street dance, jazz, tap dance.
- Traditional dance – Scottish reels, Irish dancing.
SalaryWorking as a dance teacher means working freelance in most cases. Income is based upon the number of classes given and the frequency, as well as the number of people who attend. With experience and time, a dance teacher’s reputation may grow, leading to potentially higher income.
- A dance teacher just starting out earns about £30 per hour or class, working one or two hours a day.
- An experienced dance teacher may teach several large classes a day, each netting upwards of £50.
- A well known choreographer can command around £60 per head for workshops with perhaps 20 people in attendance, in addition to regular classes and appointments as a choreographer for particular dance pieces or shows.
ResponsibilitiesA dance teacher is responsible for the following:
- Leading a safe warm-up prior to dance class to minimise the risk of injury and facilitate good practice.
- Explaining and demonstrating individual movements, sequences and concepts to dance students.
- Documenting students’ performance, providing feedback and advice outside training times.
- Researching and developing their own skills.
- Creating original pieces of choreography and communicating these to students.
- Teaching the theoretical aspects of dance and movement in a classroom setting.
QualificationsNormally dance teachers come from a background of being dancers themselves and may become teachers due to their own high skill level and desire to pass this on to others. To study for a qualification in classical or contemporary dance you would need to have a minimum of 5 GCSEs and a couple of A-levels. To teach dance in schools you need to have a qualified teacher status (QTS); more information is available at the TDA. Alternatively you can study for a PGCE, a one-year teacher training programme in addition to a dance qualification. The Council for Dance Education and training (CDET) has a list of vocational dance courses here. For classical and contemporary dance courses check with individual organisations such as: IDTA International Dance Teachers Association
SkillsFor a successful career a dance teacher must possess the following personal attributes:
- Excellent ability in their personal area of expertise.
- Excellent anatomical knowledge.
- Patience and an ability to communicate movement to people of all abilities.
- Ability to keep control over a large class of people.
- Friendly and sincere, good at networking.
- Good organisational skills, if self-employed.
Working ConditionsDance teachers normally work from within a dance studio or classroom setting. This may be in a children’s school, a specialised dance school or a privately hire studio. Hours vary according to the setting, with school classes taking place during the day and private classes in the evenings and at weekends. As a result, hours can be long with early starts and late finishes. Additional commitments, such as performances and one’s own training, add extra fatigue and mean that a dance teacher’s daily existence can be very tiring. With this amount of activity, injuries are common and must be dealt with immediately in order to minimise the impact on further learning and income.
ExperienceFirst and foremost, a dance teacher must be highly experienced in all aspects of dance - performance, choreography, body conditioning and training. For the teaching aspects of the job any experience working with groups of young people or adults is beneficial. Shadowing a dance teacher to gain experience or working as a teaching assistant is beneficial and often a natural part of the dance learning process.
EmployersMajor employers of dance teachers are schools where a dance class or two a week may be part of the curriculum. Besides that, sports centres and dance schools offer rooms for hire by dance teachers of a variety of fashionable disciplines such as ballet, capoeira, salsa, samba and street dance.
Career ProgressionIt is common for professional dancers to become dance teachers once they have amassed enough experience or reached a point in their careers where it is the next logical step. Experienced dance teachers may go on to develop their own particular style or movement concepts and put these into performance. Thus they become dance choreographers, working with any number of professional dancers to bring their visions to reality.
Jane McLean, aged 24, is a dance teacher, performer and choreographer. She works as a graduate assistant in Laban, a highly renowned conservatoire, and also teaches in a variety of school and workshop settings around London.