So! You've been dancing and choreographing for a while now and are looking to give back to the community. You want to start teaching classes and workshops, but can't seem to find opportunities for yourself... If this sounds like you, I admire your desire to share your craft with the community! But before you start teaching workshops/classes, there are three things you should ask yourself...
Why do you want to start teaching?
If your answer is somewhere along the lines of:
“I have paid my dues. From the knowledge I have collected from countless classes I have taken and/or my directors, I believe that I am ready. I have a lot to offer to the community supplemented by my strong desire to share not only my craft but also to help the dancers grow.”
...then you’re off to a great start. A strong desire to teach for the benefit of others is the first step.
You may have friends that have asked you, “When are you going to start teaching classes?!” or have heard the “I want to learn this!” comment.
If you feel that this hits home for you, (skip to number 2).
If your answer is somewhere along the lines of,
“I haven’t taken that many classes but I’m confident with my choreography. I just want to put myself out there.”
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If your desire is to share your choreography, there’s YouTube and other outlets for that.
Class, to me, and so many other dancers, is a very sacred environment.
This is where I grow, learn, and am inspired.
If your desire to teach the community stems from showing off your choreography,
Pay your dues.
Take class, learn from the people who teach you.
Talk to them, ask for knowledge.
Nine times out of ten, they’ll offer valuable information.
Just because your choreography is great, it won’t always translate to a great class experience.
Will your students grow, learn and leave your class inspired?
Only when you feel you have something you can give to your students, should you start teaching.
See Related Article: Things Dance Students Love & Hate From Their Choreographers
What do you need to do to provide a great class experience?
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
90% of work is done before class even begins.
After completion of the choreography you need to know a few things:
a.) Understand your music – mood/feel, counts, syncopation, lyrics, beats, etc.
b.) Understand your style – textures, timing, extensions, etc.
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Read your class – similar to music, each class has a different rhythm.
It is crucial for a teacher to recognize and stay cognizant of that rhythm.
If you don’t pay attention to the class flow, once you start doing groups, you may wonder why no one was able to get your choreography.
The person responsible at this point is no one but yourself.
Therefore, anticipate and note which section of your piece they collectively seem to be having trouble with.
Go over that section, perhaps demonstrate it to them multiple times, break it down, or perhaps explain it a bit differently than you did when you first introduced it.
This is when your preparation before class is tested.
If you understand your music and style, you'll be able to explain your choreography in a clear and concise manner.
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Share - I love it when choreographers share a bit of themselves after class.
It could be anything from a “this particular event/person inspired me to choreograph this piece” to “I ran across this song while I was in the club, and I was just feeling it."
I've taken classes from people I look up to, the borderline fan-boy kind, and when they share something like that I get inspired.
Connecting with the people in class, relating yourself or your piece to them will leave a lasting impression.
Trust me on that one.
I got my "why" (purpose) and "what" (specifics) down, now tell me how to get started!
Don't hope to score yourself a huge international workshop right away.. (but of course, don't dismiss that as a goal.)
Begin with teaching your team, a small group of friends, or offer to teach for a team looking for training.
Don't be afraid to market yourself.
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I know many talented friends who know their "why"s and "what"s, but are reluctant to ask for teaching opportunities because they don’t want to seem “desperate” in the community.
If you truly believe in your “why” and know “what” you’re doing, you will be able to recognize not only who you are as a choreographer/dancer but also as a person.
The point is that when you have trained as a dancer for a long time, taken countless classes, gathered knowledge, and have a passion to inspire, all other factors that’s keeping you from being where you want to be is not the people who aren’t recognizing you as good dancer, nor the people who aren’t asking you to teach class, it is simply no one but yourself.
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"Hey I'm an aspiring choreographer looking to share my craft, do you know anyone or any team looking for choreographers?"
There is nothing wrong with asking this question to people.
No, it doesn’t make you seem desperate.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to share your individuality as a dancer.
Remember, you have gathered all the right tools.
So ask away in confidence!
If you are like me, I dread posting videos. I’m always scared of what other people will think of my choreography.
Get rid of that attitude. YouTube views do not define you as a dancer.
YOU define you as a dancer.
See Related Article: Why It’s More Important For Dance To FEEL Good, Than Look Good
I have changed my attitude to “I want to post videos for myself to document my growth, and hopefully inspire someone. You’ll never know.”
Videos don’t have to have cool lighting or a rooftop.
See Related Article: How To Make Amazing Dance Videos
All you need is yourself (or with a couple friends), a camera, your awesome choreography, and heaps of confidence (it should come from your "why" and "what").
If you truly believe in your “why” and “what”, you have nothing to fear.
If anything, you are to be applauded for wanting to share your individuality and a purpose higher than yourself.
Once you have found that class or workshop you’ve been yearning for, seek to find something that you could’ve done better. It’s okay if your first class didn’t go so well. It’s okay if you choked and forgot the counts. It’s okay if only two people came to class. It’s okay if you didn’t get 1,000 views (I get excited when I get over 100 views on my videos) on your new video. Always remember why (foundation) and what (knowledge). I take 3-4 classes a week. I’ve taught multiple classes and yet I still have a lot to learn.
There are so many dancers nowadays who are so eager to teach but so few willing to learn. Always remain humble. Humility does not entail rejecting your talent or hard work. Rather, it is to embrace that you are good and amazing in many ways but also embrace the fact that there is plenty of room for growth. Happy learning, and happy teaching!
What are some concepts you find are important to consider to become a better choreographer? Share them by commenting below! A great way to study the ways people teach effectively is to take class from them. Learn from the world's best choreographers AND TEACHERS on STEEZY Studio! This article was submitted by Robin Ching and originally published on August 25, 2014.