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Dance Instructor


Description

"Five, six, seven, eight . . . and one, two, three, four . . ." Dancers are used to hearing this kind of rhythmic counting from their instructors, who study the musical beats in songs to help them teach dance steps, movement techniques, and to design and coordinate dance routines. They can teach everyone from amateur adults learning the foxtrot at a local community center to aspiring young ballerinas at ballet school. All instructors strive to create confident, proud dancers out of their students.

Dance instructors usually specialize in a particular area of dance such as ballet, ballroom, tap, jazz, hip-hop funk or modern dance. Their goal is to help dancers creatively communicate through the dance medium, while taking into consideration the limits to which dancers' bodies can be pushed. They may meet with their students for one or two hours a week, but if they are teaching serious dancers or professionals, they will work with them for many hours a day.

Dance instructors must be good communicators, as they are required to not only show the dance steps and techniques, but they must be able to explain them in ways that people understand them. The instructor might only be teaching one or two students, but often they are teaching large groups of students, which makes explanations harder. This means the instructor must have a solid understanding of the movements and techniques before becoming a teacher.

Generally, dance instructors are retired dancers, or individuals who love to dance, but were not willing to dedicate their lives to it, the way dancers must. Dance instructors are lucky in that they get to bring dance to everyone. Successful teachers will make all dancers feel proud and happy with their accomplishments, whether it's becoming the principal dancer for the ballet, or simply making it through a waltz without tripping.
 
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  Interests and Skills  
Interested in becoming a dance instructor? Dance instructors need to be in excellent health, with strong muscles and good cardiovascular training. They should be very self-disciplined, motivated, and have lots of confidence in their abilities as both a dancer and a teacher. They need to have good time and stress management skills, think creatively, and be a good communicator. They should be sensitive, as well as determined, honest and fair. Most of all, they should love dancing, and have the desire to share their love of dancing with others.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Hold regular classes in a variety of locations
  • Teach children, adults, professionals and amateurs
  • Specialize in one or two genres of dance
  • Attend classes to learn new techniques
  • Promote classes and school
  • Choreograph dances
  • Put on competitions and recitals
  • Explain and demonstrate dance steps and techniques
  • Teach students about musical rhythm
  • Advise on how to stand and move well, including teaching correct dance techniques to prevent injury
  • Experiment with different dancers, dance steps and placements
  • Choose the music, sound effects or spoken narrative to accompany the dance steps
  • Dance instructors will spend most of each day watching dancers, training them in new steps and reviewing old ones. They will consult with other teachers, choreographers and the dancers themselves about new techniques, exercises and health. They may also manage their own schools, which can include overseeing other teachers, designing costumes, choreographing dances, arranging for recitals, and maintaining the finances. There will be some travel, especially if their students are involved in auditions or competitions.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Dance instructors can work in a variety of places. Many will work for dance schools, training dancers in ballet, jazz, modern, folk or tap. Some schools are prestigious and very difficult to join, while some are suitable for hobbyists. Some instructors may work for companies, training dancers who travel around the wold. Some may work independently, on contract for private lessons.
  • Some dance instructors teach at universities, colleges and public schools. These instructors generally require postsecondary training.
  • Dance instructors work in studios, community centers, and gymnasiums. The hours can be long, and they are often teaching in the evenings and on weekends.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Dance instructors can advance to head instructor positions within dance schools, or they may choose to open their own dance schools. They can become choreographers, or start their own dance companies. They may become teachers in public schools, or become actors, writers, or fitness trainers. They can produce dance instruction videos and books, as well.
 

  Educational Paths  
There is no real educational path to follow when becoming a dance instructor. Most dance instructors teach dancing after years of training in different dance techniques.Students interested in teaching dance will focus on one genre or form of dance, in order to be able to teach it well. Dance instructors may take a few education, business or management classes at university or college. These are especially good courses to take if one is interested in opening their own dance school.

Instructors who plan on teaching dance in universities, colleges or the public school system may be required to complete a master's degree.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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