Wanna know what it takes to be a great dance teacher?
You have to pass the bar in order to become a lawyer, you have to go to med school to become a doctor, and you even have to audition for a team in order to dance on it.
But when it comes to teaching urban dance choreography, there is no real process that can tell you "Yes, you're qualified. Yes, you're ready."
Choreographers get noticed through Instagram, opportunities come by word of mouth, and teachers learn how to teach mostly through personal trial and error.
Though personal experience holds the best lessons, there are a lot of things you can learn off the bat to help you become a great dance teacher.
So, if you really want to be a great dance teacher – not just a good one – then keep reading.
Good teachers teach as best as they can for the hour or two they have.
They prepare, are attentive, drill techniques and grooves, describe their movements thoroughly – whatever to make that time valuable.
Great dance teachers not only teach, but develop relationships with their students. Not necessarily a BFFL friendship, but one of mentorship.
Great dance teachers take the time to know who their students are, what they’re good at, what they need help in, and how they learn best.
I used to take one choreographer’s class almost every single week.
He’d tell me “You’re doing much better with your performance!” or “I want you to work on dancing with more strength in your arms.” or “Where were you last week? I think you would’ve killed the piece.”
Being a great teacher is about approaching a student’s growth big-picture, not just per-class.
If you paid to just learn choreography, then by all means, find the teachers that know how to jam a lot of moves in that 60-90 minutes.
But, if you want to understand your body better, practice different ways of executing movement, and fully absorb whatever amount of choreography taught... then find the teachers that teach you how to dance.
It’s pretty obvious when a teacher is just trying to get through the sections until they reach some checkpoint.
Great dance teachers, no matter how much choreography they get through, will leave you feeling like you learned something about dance.
You can’t learn if you don’t know what you gotta learn.
Great teachers know how to balance both praise and constructive criticism.
They understand that their job isn’t to baby their students and make them happy so they don't unfollow them.
Ultimately, their job is to push them to become better. (Which will make everyone happy!)
These will help give you an idea: Best Dance Advice From Your Favorite Choreographers
I love it when dance teachers know the exact lyrics to the song they’re teaching to – not because I mind if they make something up, but because it shows that they went that extra step to Google search the lyrics.
Preparation is great.
Great dance teachers come truly prepared, meaning they’re ready to adapt at moment’s notice.
This means they can be great teachers, not just for one specific situation, but for all situations.
For example, if a dance teacher starts teaching and soon realizes that their students cannot keep up with the pace of their teaching, they should either be ready to simplify the choreography, spend more time drilling combos, or teach less but teach carefully.
They should NOT just go on teaching the class on their own pace.
Or if there is language barrier, a great dance teacher will be able to find alternate ways of explaining their movements.
For any dancer to get to a point where they’re teaching, they probably love dance a lot.
But for them to become great at teaching dance, they have to love teaching.
Not all good scientists make great science teachers, not all artists make good art teachers.
That distinction is everything –Are you a dancer? Check.
Now, do you want to be an educator of dance? If so, then pursue it.
That's the only way you'll be a great dance teacher. In conclusion, the concept is simple: You can learn to teach, too.
While there’s no Grad School Program from STEEZY University that gives you the credentials to qualify as an “Urban Dance Choreography Teacher,” you can still find ways to be a great dance teacher on your own.
What do you think makes a great dance teacher? Comment below and share with us!