Private: Dance Instructor

Dance instructors teach expressive movement to students at various levels.

There are dance steps and movements that have been passed down from teacher to student for generations, allowing for the continuation and development of the art form. Dance teachers are masters of movement who help their pupils to reach their potential as dancers. This requires not only an expert understanding of one or more dance styles, but also a strategy for coaxing the best from each individual student.

Teaching is all about knowing and showing, so dance instructors must be able to imagine and convey individual steps, feelings, motions, and details to students. They should be able to observe students, making note of their form and technique, providing guidance where needed and positive feedback when successful. It's common, though not essential, for dance teachers to demonstrate steps to their students, and there are different ways to do this. Some lead large groups, giving general notes upon the completion of a sequence, while others work one on one, giving feedback in real time. Finding the right teaching method can help an instructor to determine the type of students they work best with and allow them to provide better dance education.

Work as a dance instructor may include...

  • Working with students one-on-one or in groups
  • Developing lesson plans and class schedules
  • Leading exercises, practice sessions, or rehearsals
  • Demonstrating movements to students
  • Providing feedback and adjusting student's techniques

Dance instructors can be found in all sorts of places, from small, privately run studios to international dance programs at large universities. Some schools host certain types of dance programs and hire instructors to run them. Instructors may work as coaches for individual dancers at or approaching the professional level, helping them to refine their technique before big opportunities. University dance programs Theatre and dance companies, as well as other commercial or touring productions, often hire dance teachers to train performers for shows. Some instructors open their own dance studios or are employed by larger studios, where they are able to teach classes and work with students in a particular style. Members of notable dance collectives and troupes may teach workshops or classes, and it's not uncommon to find dance teachers in fitness settings.

Almost all dance instructors are highly trained and have worked as dancers in a professional capacity. Many have conservatory training, advanced degrees, or years of lessons under their belt and are able to leverage their credentials to land more prestigious roles. Instructors who work with young children often possess a Bachelor's degree in education and a dance certification or vice versa. Dance certifications are offered by a number of institutions and typically take a year or more to complete. Some teachers find work without formal qualifications on the basis of their skills or experience, most often in cultural or commercial dance settings.

If you're a skilled dancer looking to share your knowledge with a new generation, finding a career as a dance instructor could be immensely rewarding.

National Dance Education Organization provides professional development and advocacy tools for teachers, administrators, and students in the field of dance education.

The Dance Studies Association is an international organization of dance scholars, educators, and artists which contributes to the advancement of the field.

The California Dance Education Association is a nonprofit professional organization serving emerging, practicing, and master dance artists, teachers, and scholars.

The National Association of Schools of Dance aims to develop closer relationships between schools and programs of dance to improve practices and professional standards in dance education and training.