Dance Teacher

The Job and What's Involved

Dance teachers educate and instruct individuals and groups of all ages and abilities in different forms of dance. They may teach classes of students interested in dance as a leisure activity, or provide more intense tuition for individuals keen to pursue a career in the performing arts as professional dancers or choreographers.

A dance teacher may specialise in one particular dance style or cover a whole range. There are many styles to choose from, including ballet, tap, modern, contemporary dance, ballroom and salsa. Some may teach dance as a form of exercise.

The majority of their time is spent teaching classes and providing constructive feedback to pupils, but other tasks may include:

  • Planning lessons around a syllabus.
  • Selecting music and preparing routines.
  • Showing people how to warm up and dance safely, in order to minimise the chances of injury.
  • Assessing and recording the individual progress of pupils.
  • Preparing pupils and putting them forward for examinations.

Dance teachers, particularly in small private schools, may be responsible for marketing their classes, preparing invoices and organising annual shows and dance workshops. This may also involve some stage and lighting direction and costume design.

Those working in state schools and in higher education may have additional responsibilities, possibly teaching other subjects or working in a broader physical education role.

Working hours vary depending on the type of employer. Private dance school teachers usually run classes throughout the day, in the evening and on Saturdays. Those employed within the education system typically work regular school hours. Dance lessons in most schools cease during school holidays, but teachers may run additional workshops or classes in the run-up to school productions or other special performances. Some dance teachers work freelance, travelling to several different venues. Part-time work is possible.

Work is mainly indoors, usually in a dance studio, gymnasium or hall. Studios are normally equipped with mirrors and barres for warm-up exercises. Facilities can sometimes be basic, but should adhere to minimum health and safety requirements. Classes can sometimes be quite noisy.

Starting salaries vary widely. Full-time teachers in a state school may start on around £19,000 a year. Self-employed dance teachers often charge an hourly or session rate, which may range from between £12 and £50, depending on the size of the class. These fees may have to cover the cost of renting a room and travelling to venues.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Careers in the dancing and performing world are competitive, with entrants often starting young to follow their goal. Many dance teachers start out as professional performers, moving into teaching as their career progresses. Another route is to train specifically as a school dance teacher for either the private or state sector.

Job opportunities exist in state and independent schools, colleges and private dance schools, as well as at leisure and community facilities. Employment opportunities are good, with steady demand for dance teachers overall. There is a shortage of training programmes for those wishing to work in education.

Some teachers may find employment overseas or on leisure cruise ships.

Dance teaching vacancies for state schools may be published on local government career websites or on www.eteach.com, as well as in education publications. Specialist magazines, such as The Stage and Dancing Times are other useful resources. Networking and maintaining contacts during training may also lead to job opportunities.

Education and Training

Entry requirements vary depending on the type of employer. Those wishing to teach the National Curriculum in state schools and colleges need to gain Qualified Teaching Status (QTS). There are several ways to achieve this:

Study a combined teaching degree at university, specialising in a subject area such as physical education with dance.

Study a degree in dance at university and then take a one year Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).

Five institutions currently offer PGCE's specialising in dance:

- Chelsea School at the University of Brighton
- De Montfort University
- Laban - PGCE in Community Dance
- Liverpool Hope University College -PGCE in Performing Arts
- Royal Academy of Dance

Entry requirements differ depending on the individual's experience and professional dance and academic qualifications. Candidates should check with individual institutions for specific entry requirements.

A popular and alternative route for dancers wishing to obtain QTS is to train on the job, applying for a Graduate Training Programme (GTP). Candidates must have a degree, and either respond to an advert for the GTP programme, apply direct to a GTP provider or find a job as an unqualified teacher in a school that will support them throughout the programme.

Dance teachers working in independent schools are not required to achieve QTS. However, without it, candidates are not currently able to apply for permanent teaching positions in state schools and colleges. For more general information on becoming a school teacher, see School Teacher.

Those who teach in private dance schools usually train at vocational dance schools or dance teaching societies. Four dance teaching societies are accredited and registered by the Council for Dance Education and Training (CDET):

- British Ballet Organisation (BBO)
- British Theatre Dance Association
- Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD)
- Royal Academy of Dance

Qualifications from these bodies are also accredited by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) and have been included in the National Qualifications Framework.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

In most cases, dance teachers complete all their training before taking up a teaching post. In the private dance sector, dance teachers usually hold qualifications from one or more awarding dance bodies accredited by CDET. Only teachers registered with the relevant awarding body or dance society may enter students for their examinations.

To support dance teachers working in schools, the National Dance Teachers Association (NDTA) provides access to regional representatives and on-going professional development opportunities through:

  • In-service training
  • Networking and web forums
  • Teaching resources

NDTA membership is available to teachers in primary and secondary schools and colleges.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Dance teachers need:

  • A proficient background in dance.
  • Musical knowledge and an understanding of different dance forms.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
  • To involve and motivate students through positive feedback.
  • Patience and stamina, both physically and mentally.
  • To be disciplined, organised and well-prepared.
  • Observation skills, and confidence to manage challenging behaviour.
  • Good attention to detail.
  • A creative, innovative approach to teaching.

Your Long Term Prospects

It is possible to work as a freelance dance teacher, running classes in various leisure and exercise facilities. Some teachers set up their own private dance school.

There are also opportunities in specialist dance teaching areas, such as choreography or dance therapy. Additional study may be required.

Get Further Information

Arts Council England, 14 Great Peter Street, London SW1P 3NQ
Tel: 0845 300 6200
Website: www.artscouncil.org.uk

British Ballet Organisation (BBO),
Woolborough House, 39 Lonsdale Road,
Barnes, London SW13 9JP
Tel: 020 8748 1241
Website: www.bbo.org.uk

British Theatre Dance Association,
The International Arts Centre, Garden Street, Leicester LE1 3UA
Tel: 0845 166 2179
Website: www.btda.org.uk

Council for Dance Education and Training (CDET),
Old Brewer's Yard, 17-19 Neal Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9UY
Tel: 020 7240 5703
Website: www.cdet.org.uk

Dance UK,2nd Floor, Finsbury Town Hall,
Rosebury Avenue, London EC1R 4QT
Tel: 020 7713 0730
Website: www.danceuk.org

Foundation for Community Dance,
LCB Depot, 31 Rutland Street, Leicester LE1 1RE
Tel: 0116 253 3453
Website: www.communitydance.org.uk

Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing,
22/26 Paul Street, London EC2A 4QE
Tel: 020 7377 1577
Websites: www.young-dancers.org and www.istd.org

National Dance Teachers Association (NDTA),
PO Box 4099, Lichfield WS13 6WX
Tel: 01543 308618
Website: www.ndta.org.uk

Royal Academy of Dance,
36 Battersea Square, London SW11 3RA
Tel: 020 7326 8000
Website: www.rad.org.uk

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