What Does It Take to Be an Effective Dance Teacher?

Rebecca Price, Faculty

Dance teacher instructing class in studio

If you are passionate about dance and teaching, you just might have what it takes to be a dance teacher. It takes more than being a strong dancer to be an effective teacher. You must also have an enthusiasm for teaching and a knowledge of dance technique, dance pedagogy and kinesiology.

Dance Teacher Requirements

The requirements depend on where you want to teach. Several states across the country have strong high school performing arts programs. To teach dance in a secondary school setting, you need a degree leading to licensure. 

A Bachelor of Arts in Dance for Secondary Education is such a degree. The program provides the technical training and the pedagogy and education courses you need to secure a teaching license.

If you are more interested in teaching at a private dance studio or a youth center, a bachelor’s degree may not be required. However, it is still preferred. 

A Bachelor of Arts in Dance provides future teachers not only with training in dance technique but also with a greater understanding of how to teach correct alignment and injury prevention. The more training you have in dance, the greater the knowledge base you have to share with your students. Whatever sector you plan to teach in, it is worthwhile to review the qualifications. 

The Science of Teaching

A degree program in dance education will not only give you an understanding of the technical skill sets involved in dance, but it will also prepare you to teach others to dance using correct forms. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines pedagogy as “the art, science or profession of teaching.”* Knowing about the science of teaching will help you know how to reach every student. Each student is different and learns in different ways. Learning various approaches to teaching dance will provide you with the tools you need to help all the students in your class. An effective dance teacher has a strong grasp of dance technique, classroom management and student assessment.

Dance Technique

Dance encompasses a glorious variety of styles — ballet, jazz, modern, hip-hop, tap and lyrical, to name just a few. Being well-educated in the dance form(s) you teach is crucial. A degree program in dance offers technical training in various forms to develop your movement and performance practice. Equally essential and also included in the curriculum is education on injury prevention. The structured technique classes offered in a bachelor’s program show you the components of a dance technique class and a logical progression to warm up the body.

Classroom Management

A studio full of five-year-olds in tutus is a challenge — which you will know how to meet if you have classroom management skills. Knowing how to run a dance class effectively is vital for a dance teacher. This includes knowing how to keep students engaged. In a dance education program, you will learn how to create a positive, safe learning environment that builds confidence in students and challenges them to grow.

Student Assessment

A dance teacher must be able to assess student learning. Students need both encouragement and challenge. If students are not grasping the material, that indicates the need for a change in instructional approach. Feedback lets students know how they are progressing in the class. Dance teachers should plan their lessons so that students can experience a variety of ways to move and dance. And no matter how beautifully planned one approach may be, teachers must be capable of shifting gears if that approach is not working.

Whether you intend to teach in a secondary school setting or at a private dance studio, a degree in dance or dance education will help you complement your passion for dance and teaching with the skills needed to be an effective teacher ready to change the lives of future dancers

Interested in a career as a dance teacher? Grand Canyon University’s College of Fine Arts and Production offers degrees to help you succeed. To learn more about earning your BA in Dance for Secondary Education or BA in Dance, click on the Request Info button at the top of your screen. You can also check out more performing and digital arts blogs or explore the Teaching Tuesday blogs to learn more about this career field.  

*Merriam-Webster, Definition of Pedagogy in April 2021

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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