Working in a field you love is the ultimate dream.
If you have the knowledge, experience, skills, and above all, a passion for dance, there is no reason why you can't pursue a career as a dance instructor. Teaching students effectively can be hard work but with time, patience and a little creative know-how, you'll soon be able to share your love of dancing.
Before you start applying for every dance teacher job you see, you might like to take the time to make sure you have any professional qualifications required by different dancing schools and studios. Be aware, some may prefer you to have some teacher training or to have completed formal course work or professional learning in pedagogy.
However, if you would like to become a private dance teacher, have a look at Superprof. It only takes a couple of clicks to upload your profile and you can start working with new students.
Continue reading for more advice about how to become a dance teacher.
Where Can a Private Dance Instructor Work?
Your first consideration is likely to be where you can teach dancing to students?
It can be difficult at the start, when schools don't know you, to find a job as a dance instructor. It may also take time to get your first student. Try not to feel discouraged—dancing is one of the more popular performing arts and you just need to know where to look and how to promote yourself at a professional level.
Before you begin working, you should think about how you would like to be paid. There are two pathways you can follow:
- Employee (contracted or casual)
- Sole Trader (self employed)
Employment as a Dance Teacher
The process for applying for jobs, and the benefits of working for a dance school or studio, are similar to any other job.
You will first be required to submit your CV and an application letter addressing the criteria. If you pass this stage, you will be called in for an interview and you may even be asked to demonstrate your skills.
While this process can be arduous, the end result is rewarding as you will likely be given a contract and will have regular hours and a reliable salary.
Apply broadly when you start submitting applications. Try:
- dance studios and schools
- public and private education institutions (primary to college level)
- theatre production companies
- independent performing arts schools
- private agencies and dance associations
- regional and national dance conservatoires (such as ballet)
Working for yourself requires a lot of effort and motivation but the benefits are increased flexibility and freedom, not only in your work hours and rates but also in your teaching style.
As a self-employed instructor, you decide the level of students you will take on and the group size, from private training with a single student to larger groups.
The most important initial consideration will be finding a good location for teaching your class. This may mean hiring a space. Once you're established, however, you can certainly work towards opening your own studio or company.
Self-employment also comes with added responsibilities, including financial management. You may wish to consider hiring a book-keeper, or even going into partnership with another teacher.
Dance teachers with skills in choreography and experience in performance organisation can also put together shows or workshops. Not only does this allow your students performing opportunities but it will bring in new students.
Building a professional career teaching dance takes time and effort. It may be that, rather than pursue a fulltime job, you are happier working part-time and just want to help people experience the joy of dancing.
Whatever your next step is, qualifications and experience will go a long way to helping you reach your goals.
Superprof offers a unique way of promoting your skills and classes to a wide market. Creating a profile is easy and once you've done that, you can begin giving private lessons or running online classes.
What is a Reasonable Hourly Rate for Dance Lessons?
"How do I know what I should charge?"
This question is probably the most commonly asked by teachers new to private tuition—in any field.
Deciding on a fair hourly rate will be your most important decision. Too high and people might be unwilling or unable to commit; too low and students may think you have no experience or skills.
Setting your rates is a balancing act to ensure you are covering your costs and being competitive in the market. As a guide, the average hourly rate of pay for dance instructors in Australia is $30 to $50.
Depending on whether you are teaching at a dance school or offering private or online classes, this rate may be more or less. The key is to be able to get students who would like to continue learning with you because they like the way you teach and find your lessons enjoyable.
As a new instructor, it would be a good idea to factor in the following points when determining your rates:
- your personal level of dance education and professional teaching qualifications
- style of dance class you offer
- your teaching experience
- background experience of each student (beginner or advanced?)
- whether you will offer packages, group discounts or loyalty bonuses
- external costs, such as rental of teaching space and equipment
- content of your lesson and preparation time
As your career progresses, you should also emphasise feedback and testimonials from students and your reputation. These will both help people make their decision about which teacher they want to learn with.
Check the rates other dance tutors set to find the average hourly fee for your class style. On the Superprof site, you can search the type of dancing you specialise in and the location to see what other tutors charge.
These days, dancing doesn't necessarily have to be taught in person. Online classes are very popular and, as long as you have a reliable internet connection and webcam, are a good way to save on external costs and travel time. Online tutorials tend to have lower rates, but even so, make sure you still factor in your level of experience, preparation time and computer-related costs.
What Qualifications Does a Dance Teacher Need?
Qualification or word-of-mouth—which is better?
The answer to this question is mainly determined by where you want to teach.
Setting up a tutor profile on Superprof does not require a dance qualification, and it is possible to teach privately without them. In fact, some people prefer practical experience and knowledge over a paper qualification.
On the other hand, if you are looking to be employed by a dance company or similar, they are likely to require some level of official qualification.
There are a number of different courses you can do to gain professional qualifications. Some of these are:
- Certificate IV courses (Teaching and Management, Community Culture)
- Skill Set units (through AusDance)
- Diploma of Dance
- Bachelor of Dance Education
These courses vary in length, so you would need to carefully weigh up what requirements you have to meet, and how much time you can afford.
In addition to dance-specific qualifications you may also need:
- working with children and vulnerable people approval (as applicable to your state) if you will be teaching children
- current First Aid qualifications
- a bachelor level (or equivalent) degree in education if you are planning on teaching in primary schools, high school or at college level
Obtaining employment in a more prestigious dance institution will not only require top-level qualifications, but also significant prior experience.
Starting small as a private tutor while you study, then working your way up can be an achievable career goal.
Getting Ready for Your First Lessons
If you're committed to knowing how to become a dance teacher with a good reputation for quality lessons, you have to be able to take a step back and assess your personal and professional aims.
Beware of becoming a victim of the fast money trap. Taking on students for every and any style and level, from beginning jazz to advanced ballet, and capoeira (what is that?), is only going to ensure stress on your part and dissatisfaction for your students.
Look at where your strengths, skills and passions lie. Ask yourself what you can offer that will make you stand out from other teachers who have similar training and knowledge. What is your point of difference?
Be creative. What can you do that very few others offer?
Would it be worthwhile to become more in demand by undertaking training and increasing your skills in some less common styles?
Narrow down your niche. Will you focus on ballroom styles, traditional jazz, latin, modern, hip hop, funk or classical performance dance such as ballet? What level will you specialise in—beginning, intermediate or professional advanced?
The more precise your niche, the more focused you will be and the ability to meet student expectations will increase.
Currently, Superprof dance tutors offer classes in:
- Urban Kpop
- dance for fitness or therapy
- Brazilian Zouk
- Hip Hop and Jazz
- Indian Classical Dance
- Chinese dance
That's just a small sample. Where do you fit?
Before starting, think about your personal teaching style. If you're not sure, think back to teachers you've had whose styles you liked. Also remember that you may need to modify your style to suit your student and help them meet their goals. Your first lesson is your best opportunity to test out what works and what doesn't.
Remember to have your teaching space organised—if you're renting, ensure it is reserved correctly and has everything you need. Make sure you have the necessary equipment, especially if you are tutoring beginners who will appreciate not having to buy lots of equipment at the outset.
Even if you have been teaching for a while, it's essential that you review your content and teaching plan before every lesson so your session runs smoothly.
Now that you've done the set-up preparation, what about planning your individual dance lessons?
Do You Dream of Teaching Ballet?
If you want to become a ballet teacher, you should be aware the competition is tough. Out of all the dance styles, ballet teaching requires the greatest amount of training and a high level of education at a certified institution.
However, if this is your dream, don't let the requirements deter you. For talented and committed instructors, the popularity and demand for ballet instruction mean the effort will be worth your while.
What Resources, Equipment and Accessories are Necessary?
As with any creative pursuit, dance also requires style-specific equipment and clothing.
Aside from the teaching location, new tutors also need to decide what accessories and equipment they need, and whether they will provide it for their students. In addition, you need to ensure you have access to the relevant music and playing devices. For modern dance, you may wish to see what sort of music your students prefer.
Resources for teaching dance are readily available and can be of significant help when preparing lessons. Relevant resources are also great to use during a lesson, at any time.
When planning content for classes, new (and experienced) tutors may find helpful resources in the following areas:
- YouTube clips
- Dance Video Libraries
- Teaching and technique Apps
- Online tutorials
- dance websites, such as Ausdance
- Online dance resources, including Every Chance to Dance
- Dance companies, such as Bangarra, often have resource kits or platforms
Now that you're ready and armed with information on how to become a dance teacher, what are you waiting for?