Exploring this Job
To become a dance instructor, you’ll need to first become a skilled dancer. Take dance lessons and participate in dance summer programs to develop your talents.
Consider joining the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), which offers membership options for high school students, college students, and young professionals. The National Honor Society for Dance Arts is a program of the NDEO that has been created to “recognize outstanding artistic merit, leadership, and academic achievement in students studying dance in public and private schools in K–12 education, dance studios, cultural/community centers, performing arts organizations, and postsecondary education.” Visit http://www.nhsda.clubexpress.com to learn more about its Junior Program (for those in grades 6 to 8), Secondary Program (grades 9 to 12), and Collegiate Program.
Read A Career Guide for Dance Majors, https://finearts.utexas.edu/sites/files/cofa/dance_career_guide_july_2015.pdf, which is published by the University of Texas at Austin. It offers information on key skills for dance professionals, an overview of potential career paths (including those in dance education), and sources of additional information.
Participate in an information interviews with dance instructors. Ask your dance teacher to participate or visit the National Dance Teachers of America’s Web site, http://www.nationaldanceteachers.org/members-directory/all-members-directory, for a list of its members (who might be willing to talk to you about their careers).
Dance instructors work for private dance studios, community dance programs, recreational facilities, and schools, or as private instructors, to help people learn how to dance or improve their existing skills. They teach people of all ages and levels of experience. Most are experts in several types of dance—ranging from ballet and ballroom, to tap or hip-hop. In most settings, dance instructors have the following duties:
- Teaching students how to warm up and educating them about anatomy and physiology as they relate to dance movements and techniques
- Explaining and demonstrating dance moves and techniques to students and providing them with feedback on their performance
- Choosing the music or sound effects that will accompany dance lessons
- Choreographing dance sequences or performances
- Putting on dance competitions and recitals
- Keeping records of students’ performance and progress
A dance educator at a college or university will have the aforementioned duties, but may also spend a good amount of time focusing on the history of dance and dance notation (the written process or recording dance steps).
At a high school, a dance educator may also teach related subjects such as physical education, drama, or performing arts.
A dance instructor at a community dance program or a recreational facility might also coordinate youth dance programs and camps.
Dance educators who own their own dance schools are also responsible for running the daily operations of their businesses and handling tasks such as accounting, billing, and marketing.