Learning how to be a good dance teacher is about much more than simply correcting form and demonstrating the right techniques. Good dance teachers transcend from being just an instructor to becoming a role model, to making a lasting impression on students and to being a positive force in both their personal and dance development.
Great dance teachers are not soon forgotten. Writer and Life Counselor Jesua shared a powerful memory of her dance teacher with the Huffington Post. Jesua had neurological damage and injured legs as a result of meningitis contracted when she was a child. In college, she bravely decided to take a dance class in order to help improve her control over her body. She felt incredibly self-conscious as she stumbled through her routines, watching the other students completing them perfectly. But one day, an interaction with her dance teacher changed her outlook not just on dance, but on life:
“In front of the entire class, she yelled at me, scolding me, with so much intense love and conviction and passion I have perhaps never recovered since. She said: ‘Look at you, shame on you! Holding these long, beautiful limbs so close, so tight to your sides?’ Then she got in my face: ‘How generous are you willing to be? How generous are you willing to be with your whole life? Will you share yourself with us? With the world? Do you dare? Or are you just going to hold yourself tightly in … just keep yourself to yourself for the rest of your life? In case you fall? In case you fail? Or: are you going to choose to just be generous anyway? To just take up as much space as you actually take up? To be as big, as graceful, as long, as gorgeous, as enormous as you actually are?”
She stopped, out of breath from her spontaneous explosion, and stood there, staring up at me, tears of wisdom’s fierce love glistening in her eyes. Stunned tears came to my eyes as well, and I met her gaze, with what must have been the light of humbled gratitude.
Good dance teachers inspire their students, help them grow and enable them to be the best they can be. Read on to learn about the most important qualities for good dance teachers and ways that you can improve them:
The most effective teachers are the ones that truly try to see things from their students’ perspectives and are understanding about their unique concerns, fears and struggles. Think back to the time before you became a teacher: There were certainly moments in class when you were frustrated or grappling with issues that you felt like no one else understood. A good teacher levels with their students. As Dance Advantage stated, a good dance teacher “responds to his students with understanding and, when appropriate, compassion. He reaches people where they are, not where he wants them to be.” To practice more empathy, remember that all of your students are going through stresses and anxieties just like you did as a young dancer, and recognize the unique perspectives of each student in your class.
How can teachers connect with students if they’re not actively listening to their needs, or creating an atmosphere that encourages free expression? Listening skills and open communication are essential to being a good dance teacher. “The goal of a dance educator is to understand why each student has come to the class and what they hope to achieve,” stated Inspire2Dance. Your job is to guide students on their dance journey, and this can only be achieved by fostering a class environment that encourages students to share their thoughts and concerns with you. Open communication, however, is not a one way street. To build an atmosphere of open communication, Inspire2Dance recommended that teachers frequently check in with students, ask them questions about their dance practice and gather feedback. Show your students that you value their thoughts and opinions and remind them that you are here to help them succeed.
Whether students spend just one or five days a week in class, they are influenced by the behavior of their teachers, and often see them as mentors. To be a good dance teacher requires constant self-awareness of how you are being perceived and the lessons that you teach beyond dance skills and techniques. “In the students’ minds, the teacher brings not only personal perspective to the environment, but represents the broader knowledge of the field, and all the teachers that have come before this individual,” stated an article in the Journal of Dance Education. The article advised that instead of shying away from this role, teachers should embrace it. Pay attention to the language you use, your attitude and your behavior to make sure you are being the best role model you can be for your students.
Work on these qualities to improve as a dance teacher. With time, care and dedication, you won’t just be a good teacher, but you’ll be a great one.
Though most of your time is probably spent inside the studio with your classes, stepping outside to explore your own learning experiences is integral to being a great dance teacher. Expanding your perspectives and skills improves your abilities as a teacher, and, by extension, creates a dynamic classroom environment that fosters growth for your students. By regularly attending dance teacher workshops, you are supporting your own growth and development.
Traveling to dance teacher workshops for a few days takes you out of your element so you can better focus on not only your identity as a teacher, but your artistic identity as a dancer, and this growth in turn benefits your studio.
There are a wide range of dance teacher workshops across the country, so whatever areas you would like to focus on, there’s a workshop for you. Check out our list of some exciting dance teacher workshops being offered in 2016:
Two four-day sessions of this popular workshop are held in New York City from July 11-22: Introductory/Beginner and Intermediate/Advanced. Attendees are immersed in the Horton dance technique and learn about how to train their students to better adapt to different dance styles and dance with correct body alignment. The workshops are taught by Ana Marie Forsythe, Chair of the Horton Department at the Ailey School and co-author of “The Dance Technique of Lester Horton.” Dance teachers can attend Horton classes at the Ailey School at this program, which emphasizes a hands-on approach to learning. The deadline for registration is June 30, 2016.
A two-week course held July 18-29 is offered at the Creative Dance Center in Seattle that delves into the philosophy of “brain-compatible teaching,” which explores the connection between cognition and movement. Attendees will learn best practices in dance education methods, improve their management methods and strengthen their understanding and application of the core dance standards. In addition, attendees can take evening classes at the Creative Dance Center free of charge. A discount is offered for registering before May 15.
The Pulse On Tour and Broadway Dance Teacher present this exciting workshop in New York City, now in its 16th year. The workshop, held July 28-30, provides dance teachers with a wealth of fun learning experiences. Teachers can participate in 55 classes in all dance styles and attend seminars on topics like public relations for the studio, business strategies, choreography labs and finding a unique voice. The workshops also feature industry experts and faculty from The Pulse – some of which have been on TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance and others who have worked at top dance companies.
Presented by Dance Teacher magazine, the Dance Teacher Summit will be offered on both the East and West coast for the first time ever – it will be held in New York City July 29-31 and Long Beach, CA August 5-7. Created for dance teachers, educators and studio owners, the summit aims to “re-energize [their] passion for the art and the business of teaching dance,” according to the website – and it delivers on this promise through a jam-packed schedule of exciting activities. Learn advanced teaching method and smarter business practices and check out cutting-edge vendors. There’s also a glitzy fashion show promoting the trendiest styles of recital costumes and a cocktail party, along with the A.C.E. Award Competition spotlighting up-and-coming choreographers and online access to educational materials and videos after the summit ends.
It’s halftime! No, I’m not talking about football (and I call the Packers’ mid-game break “intermission” anyway). I’m talking about halftime of the DANCE SEASON—the midway point for studio owners between the first days of class and the finish line of recital.
By now you are far enough into classes to be past the busyness of the season opener and into a routine of the season. Your time is likely stretched carefully between the behind the scenes work that keeps the business going during the day and the actual work of serving your clients in the evenings. Running a dance studio is a delicate balancing act of time management, often with no margin for error.
Time may be at a premium, but don’t let that be an excuse to overlook one of the most critical pieces of your business: meaningful communication with your teachers. As a studio owner, this is an ongoing challenge for me. I have five kids under the age of 14 and I am no longer in the classroom on a regular basis. I work on the studio every day, but because I’m not always at the studio when the teachers are, it’s really important to establish routines to keep communication flowing.
There are all sorts of tools that we use at the studio to keep in touch with teachers on a regular basis such as weekly emails, private Facebook groups for staff and quarterly meetings with the whole group.
For as great as all of those things are, nothing replaces the importance of meeting a teacher face to face in the middle of the season to give and receive feedback before recital and competition season kicks in.
If you are ready to step up your communication with your teachers, keep reading for 5 Ideas for Mid-Season Dance Teacher Reviews.
Have a clear definition of what winning looks like on your teaching team. At my studio every studio knows that we have five firm expectations of teachers:
Have an organized and well-disciplined classroom.
Cover the entire curriculum by the end of the year.
Follow dress code for yourself and students.
Have a well-rehearsed, age-appropriate dance for recital.
Continue to learn and grow as a dancer yourself.
These clear expectations become the basis of our Mid-Season Teacher Review.
Keep it simple. In each of these areas we ask teachers, “Where are you winning? Where are you striking out? What ideas do you have to make it better?”
Listen before offering advice. Start by asking the teacher these questions before you give any feedback. Only after they have had a chance to give their feedback, do we give our feedback as leaders.
Ditch the papers. Have a conversation. In my early years of studio ownership, I tried to develop an elaborate scoring system for classroom performance. I hated sitting there grading teachers and I don’t think they liked it much either. I have found it is much more effective to have a clear definition of what it looks like to be a great teacher at our studio and then to have a conversation with teachers about how they are doing upholding those standards. These conversations focus on the positive and on finding solutions for problems. The mark of a good review is when both people leave feeling equipped to better do their jobs.
Follow up. Does your teacher need support in a particular area to succeed with a difficult class or a challenging situation? Follow up with the coaching, resources or tools your teachers need to succeed.
Our main job as leaders is to equip the people we lead for success. A Mid-Season Review goes a long way towards making that possible!
Congratulations! You finally are given the chance to choreograph your own dance. However, choreographing isn’t as easy as it looks. While you may have watched your dance teacher choreograph your performances with ease for several years, it can be scary to get started on your own. Many dancers experience the same pitfalls when choreographing their first dances. Consider these tips to avoid those issues.
When dancers think of beginning to choreograph something, they may get worried about walking into a room full of people who are looking at them for guidance. As a result, they plan out every single step and movement to a tee before even entering the room. While this might seem like a good idea, usually it’s not. When dancers aren’t following your direct lead and mastering every move and breath right away, you may get angry and become over controlling. This could lead to disarray among the group instead of making the practice about having a fun time, which is most important.
Many dancers forget how critical it is to go with the flow when choreographing a dance. As this is such a creative act, people need to listen to their changing thoughts and alter the dance as they go. Otherwise, it might not be as great of a collaboration as it could be.
Don’t Forget About the Audience
Some choreographers tend to be a little narrow-minded when starting out. They might be eager to start and choreograph, but only have interest to create a dance that pleases them, not anyone else. This is a seriously faulty mistake. When crafting a dance, it’s important to think of the audience along every step of the way. What do they want to see? What music would excite them and cause them to really pay attention? How can you draw them in?
Understanding and answering these questions before you begin creating your dance is critical. If you go into the dance only looking to please yourself, you may create a dance that isn’t interesting to anyone and essentially wastes the audience’s time when they’re watching it.
Don’t Forget About the Learning Curve
You might be the kind of dancer who can pick up a new dance within a day. However, not every dancer is like you. Others need a few practices before they can really nail down a whole song, and even then it might not be perfect. As a choreographer, it’s important to understand the learning curve that comes with dancing.
Even if you’re working with a group of advanced, experienced dancers, not everyone will pick up the moves as easily as you created them. Have patience with your dancers and help them along the way to allow them to understand certain moves better. Don’t get frustrated or upset with your dancers, which can only make the whole process worse for everyone.
Don’t Copy Someone Else’s Dance
Of course, as a dancer there were most likely some dances you watched that you loved, and probably some others that you hated. However, when you look for inspiration, it’s important not to mimic those beloved dances to a tee. While you can pull some moves from them, use your creative spirit to come up with a few new moves or reframe them in a new, refreshing way. You don’t want your audience to see the dance and believe that they’ve seen this routine before.
Instead, you want to wow them with pizzaz and originality and think a little bit outside the box. Look at several dances you like and pull from those to make sure you don’t end up reverting back to one performance you love. If you’re having a creative block, ask your dancers what they think. They might have a favorite dance too that they want to pull from or will suggest a new move they saw that helps take the dance in a new direction, instead of a familiar one.
When beginning any new job, you’re bound to make a few mistakes. The same goes for new dance teachers. Even after years of dance practices, routines and recitals, being a teacher for other dancers isn’t easy, and it can definitely difficult at the beginning. If you’re a new dance teacher, you want to make the best impression possible for your new dance studio teacher and your students. While some mistakes are unavoidable, others can be easily stepped past. Here are some tips for dance teacher training and the lessons to be learned from your students!
1. Juggling Too Many Things at Once
When you first become a dance teacher, you may bite off more than you can chew, Discount Dance noted. In some instances, you want to impress your boss so you take on more classes than you can handle, leaving you tired, weary and mistake-prone. It’s important to realize that you can only volunteer for as many classes as you can realistically take on.
It may be smarter to only begin with one or two classes and then add on a few more as you get the hang of things. In other instances, you might be the studio owner and the dance teacher. You may also be the receptionist and the studio cleaner. Taking on too many roles can leave you overwhelmed and cause your business to crumble before it even gets off the ground. If you just opened a dance studio, look into hiring dance students from local colleges as teachers.
2. Short Attention Spans
Sure, there is a lot more to being a dance teacher than just dancing. Any talented dance teacher will tell you that you have to have a passion for teaching at heart. However, though you might have had lectures in school, it’s important to not bring those to dance classes.
Whether you’re teaching young students or an older, advanced class, all students will become bored if they’re listening to a teacher ramble on. After awhile, they might even stop listening, Adventure and Me stated. Though you want to impress your dance students and let them get to know you, talking too much isn’t the right move. Instead, let them get to know you through your dance style and instruction!
3. Different Tones for Different Students
When many dance teachers begin their careers, it can be hard to differentiate the dance levels of students. You may be asked to take on a beginner’s class for adults and an advanced class for children, and it can lead you to potentially talk down to a student. After taking years of dance courses yourself, you may have a hard time understanding what different levels need and what they already know.
From teaching an advanced dancer a commonly known move or expecting a beginner to pick up a routine with very little flaws, these actions can be discouraging for dancers and potentially cause them to leave the class. Every good dance teacher supports her students and knows their exact skill levels, so they never feel out of their league or underwhelmed, Dance Advantage stated.
4. Students Need Repetition
As a dance student, you may have been a skilled learner and had the ability to pick up routines very quickly. Without issue you could get the basic moves down and quickly execute them with precision and grace. As a result, that may be the only style of teaching you’re familiar with.
Some dance teachers tend to rush through a routine with dancers, causing them to be confused and unorganized. As a teacher, it’s important to realize that your dancers aren’t familiar with your style – and pace – of dancing. When going through a routine for the first time, take it slow – your dancers will appreciate it!
You probably have a system for planning classes for dance season. Maybe you have some tried-and-true methods that you’ll be repeating or perhaps you’re going to revamp your class structure to better your studio. Either way, you should make a point to create class syllabi for the different courses you’ll be offering in the coming season. Here are some of the benefits that studio owners can reap from a structured dance class syllabus and a few pointers for drafting these documents.
Benefits of an Established Syllabus
A carefully crafted syllabus can benefit not only the teachers, but the students as well. When you take the time to create these documents for your classes, you can ensure that everyone will have a better experience at your studio.
The perks for instructors include:
Syllabi help teachers prepare for classes.
The document helps teachers keep the course on track throughout the year.
Syllabi serve as a reminder of the skills teachers need to cover.
It helps staff enforce studio policies.
It clearly establishes behavioral expectations for students.
According to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, the benefits of syllabi for students include:
The document can help students establish educational plans. In this case, it helps them to plan their growth as dancers.
It provides essential information, such as contact details, class times, rehearsal schedules and the like.
A syllabus serves as a remind of studio policies on behavior, dress code, attendance and more.
It informs students of what they’ll be learning, when they’ll be learning it and what they need to do to succeed in the class.
What to Include in a Syllabus
When you first sit down to create a syllabus, you may be tempted to simply jot down all your thoughts and goals for the class. This is a good way to get your thoughts down on paper, but you’ll want to create a document with a little more structure.
Start by writing the static parts of your syllabus – these sections will likely remain unchanged between courses and seasons. If you have a studio contract, you may even want to simply copy and paste the sections about classroom behavior, attendance, proper attire and other studio rules.
Next, you’ll want to create sections like:
Instructor info: Note who will be teaching the class and his or her contact information.
Class description: A general description of the course, genre and skill level.
Course goals: List the skills and techniques that students will ideally master over the course of the season.
Class timeline: Lay out the major events and lesson plans that will take place in the class. Include the topic for each class, as well as dates for performances and dress rehearsals if you know them.
Once you have these sections written, you may want to have the instructor look over the document and make changes or suggestions. This will ensure that the syllabus is a team effort and that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the class.
Don’t Forget to Revisit Old Syllabi
If you have syllabi that you’ve been using for years, it’s a good idea to revise them each season. After all, there are likely things that your studio could be doing better and you’ll want to reflect those changes in the document.
“We constantly reassess what we are doing, but it’s the team effort that makes it successful,” Peter Stark, dance department chair at the Patel Conservatory, explained to Dance Teacher magazine. “Star students come and go, star teachers come and go, but a methodology can maintain through that.”
Once you’ve written, revised and reviewed your syllabi, you’ll be ready to distribute them to the students, post them on your website and jump on into the new season of dance.
What makes a dance teacher great? Yes, knowledge of the art form and technical ability are important, but what sets the dancers apart from the teachers? Here are a few qualities that you may want to look for when you’re hiring dance teachers.
As is important in many other careers, passion is a necessary quality in a superior dance instructor. Not only will love of dance make even the toughest classes enjoyable, but a teacher with continually positive energy will pass that same joy on to young students.
Another important characteristic is flexibility. Dance teachers need to be able to go with the flow, and this is something that poses a struggle for some professional dancers. You never know when a lesson is going to fall flat with students or when a class will be particularly rowdy. A great teacher will adjust on the fly and make the most of each class, even when things don’t go according to plan.
Great dance teachers are often set apart from mediocre instructors by their dedication to the job at hand. Teachers who aren’t fully committed to explaining the necessary skills and molding young dancers often let little things slide in the studio. Maybe they aren’t willing to help out at dress rehearsal or won’t commit to extra hours with a struggling student. The once-in-a-lifetime teachers are the ones who are willing and ready to go the extra mile in the name of teaching.
Patience is a necessary virtue for all types of teachers. There will more than likely be difficult days with challenging students, and an awesome teacher will overcome these obstacles without losing her cool. Patience is doubly important for instructors who will be working with young or inexperienced dancers, as these students sometimes need a little extra time to grasp concepts.
Even great dancers with natural teaching ability will benefit from training geared specifically for dance education (as opposed to performance). While there are college programs in dance education, there are also other opportunities for instructors to hone their skills, like the teacher training schools offered by Dance Masters of America or Dance Educators of America. While there may be some positions, like assistant teachers, that may not necessitate a certification, requiring your teachers to have some more advanced credentials will greatly increase the quality and safety of instruction provided by your studio.
Finally, a truly top-notch teacher is one that you can count on to handle parents and students with the utmost grace and professionalism. When you have a great teacher on your staff, you won’t worry about him or her sullying the studio’s reputation by acting inappropriately.
Editor’s note: This article was updated to include additional information on dance education programs.
What would your studio be without your awesome dance instructors? They’re the ones working with students, helping put together recital pieces and fending parent questions. In many dance schools, instructors are an integral part of the business.
However, being a dance teacher isn’t all tutus and glitter. There are times when your instructors will be stressed and frustrated, and it’s in your best interest to help alleviate some of their problems to make their lives a little easier. Here are five common problems that studio owners can solve for the sake of their teachers.
1. Set Clear Studio Policies
You may not realize it, but if your studio has lax or unclear policies, it can end up affecting your teachers. On a Dance.net forum, a few instructors explained that when their studios do a poor job of communicating with parents, setting up dress codes or explaining expected class behaviors, it makes their lives a lot harder.
Setting up set policies for your school is a quick fix to this issues, and it not only will benefit your teachers, but it will likely help out you and your business as a whole.
2. Enforce Pickup and Dropoff Times
Your teachers likely love their charges, but that doesn’t mean they want to hang out with students for 20 minutes after class ends. Instructors have lives too, and many times, they’ll have places they need to be. It’s your job as the studio owner to enforce your pickup and dropoff times so that no one has to be babysitting after class is over.
3. Be a Parent Buffer
Mama drama is inevitable sometimes, and you should be there to help your instructors deal with unhappy parents. Establish clear guidelines for parent complaints and make sure you’re involved in the resolution process. It will take a whole lot of stress off the shoulders of your teachers.
4. Limit Parent Observation
Parents love to watch their little dancers perform, but it’s often distracting for the class and the instructor. Find a way to minimize distractions that come along with parent observation, whether it’s by setting up limited class time when parents can watch or installing a one-way mirror or TV monitoring system.
5.Offer Compensation for Any Extras
There may be times when you really need a teacher to stay after hours with a student or to help set up for a recital. However, it’s important that you realize what tasks aren’t in the usual scope of a dance instructor’s job description and offer additional compensation if necessary.
When you’re hiring new dance instructors, it’s essential that you take the right steps when it comes to background screening. It’s part of your responsibility as an employer to create a safe environment for both students and other employees, and that means looking into the backgrounds of individuals who will be working in the studio. If you’re not currently screening employees or you want to revamp your background check processes, here are four tips that will help you streamline the task.
1. Find a Reputable Company
You probably have a pretty tight budget when it comes to recruiting and hiring, so “free” or “do-it-yourself” background checks may seem like the best option to save money. However, sites the claim to offer free background screening usually have hidden fees or provide inaccurate, incomplete or outdated information. It’s better to look into reputable consumer reporting agencies that are known for working with small businesses. These companies will provide you with quality information at a price you can afford.
2. Create Written Policies
When you conduct inconsistent background checks, you’re opening up a can of legal worms. Consistency is key if you want to avoid any legal issues, so it’s a best practice to put your screening policies in writing. Document the steps you take with each candidate and make sure to keep records of the background checks you conduct. This documentation will be invaluable if legal action is ever taken against your studio.
3. Check References
Another way to ensure the integrity of your potential employees is to check their references. Take the time to call past employers, coworkers or fellow performers. This may eat up a little bit of your valuable time, but you may discover issues that otherwise would go undetected.
4. Check Social Media – Carefully
Looking up a job candidate’s social media sites is a helpful way to get insight on the person’s character, but there are some legal limitations to the information you can gather from these sites. A good rule to follow is that if you can’t legally ask the candidate a question in an interview, you shouldn’t gather the answer from social media. For example, it’s unlawful to ask about a job applicant’s age, race or marital status, so don’t turn to social media sites for this information. Otherwise, you could end up with a discrimination lawsuit on your hands.
If your beginner dance classes are growing in size but you’re not ready to bring on another instructor, you may be considering asking one of your older, trusted students to become an assistant dance teacher. It’s a common practice throughout the industry to have older dancers assist in preschool and beginner classes to keep kids focused and complete certain administrative tasks.
However, just like with any other business decision, there are both pros and cons of bringing on assistants to help out in your classes. Here are some of the considerations you should take into account when you’re thinking about creating this new role in your studio.
Pro: They’re a Big Help
The most obvious benefit of having an assistant dance teacher is the relief he or she can provide an overburdened instructor. Dance Advantage explained that assistants are frequently responsible for taking attendance, escorting students to the bathroom, handing out props, leading warm ups, keeping kids focused and answering basic parent inquiries. Naturally, these duties will vary between studios depending on what your teachers need help with. More advanced students sometimes also aid in correcting dancers’ form and technique during class, but it’s important that you keep in mind that an assistant’s duties should be directly related to his or her compensation.
Con: You’ll Need to Compensate Assistants
You may think that teaching assistants are the way to go if you don’t have the funds to hire another instructor, but you shouldn’t assume students will work for free. The Dance Teacher blog explained that while many studios don’t pay students monetarily, they implement some other form of payment to compensate assistants. This could be with free lessons, reduced tuition, free merchandise or even just a weekly stipend. Before you start recruiting students to be assistants, make sure you figure out what you’re willing to offer in return for their services.
Pro: The Role Benefits Students
Having an assistant dance teacher in the classroom is a big help to teachers and studio owners. Dance Studio Life noted that teacher’s assistants are able to develop leadership skills, get experience working with children, improve their own dance knowledge and build up their resumes. The role may be especially helpful for students who are considering pursuing a career as a dance instructor, as it shows them what life is like on the other side of the classroom.
Con: They’ll Need Training
The students you recruit as assistants may be eager and ready to take on their new responsibilities, but chances are that they’ll need a fair bit of training. Most students will be a little awkward in their first few months of assisting, and you’ll be able to get them comfortable more quickly if you have some sort of training system. This will require some work on your part before your teaching assistants are living up to their full potential.
Pro: It Can Be a Great Selling Point
If you’re looking for ways to set your studio apart from competitors, having a helping hand in each classroom is definitely a selling point. Once you have training and capable assistants, you can explain to prospective parents that students get as much individual attention as they need and won’t feel lost if they’re ever in a large class. It may seem like a small difference, but it can really be significant when you’re located in an area with a saturated dance market.
When you’re looking for a position as a dance instructor, it’s important to have a polished, accurate dance teacher resume to send to studio owners. Chances are that your experience won’t fit perfectly into a typical resume template, so it can be a bit confusing to write the document in a way that makes sense. Here are a few strategies to put together a dance teacher resume that puts your best foot forward.
What to Include
Resumes generally have sections for education and work experience, but there are a number of other categories that you’ll probably want to include on yours. Here are the sections that your resume should include.
Your contact information: At the top of the document, you should insert your name, address, phone number, email address and any other relevant contact information. Make sure that your email address is professional.
Education: If you studied dance in college or have any other formal dance education, put this section toward the top of your resume.
Dance training: Some teachers may not have studied dance in school, but have lots of dance training instead. In this case, you may want to put your education toward the bottom of your resume and include a section on dance training toward the top.
Teaching experience: This is the equivalent section to job experience on a business resume. Here, you’ll want to list any experience you have instructing dancers, whether it’s at another studio, as part of a volunteer opportunity or as a teaching assistant.
Performance Roles: Chasta Hamilton Calhoun of The Dance Exec says, “Certainly include relevant, recent performance information, particularly if it is at a professional level. I believe that all professional experience—performance, directorial, and choreographic is important to share. Listing experience shows how a dancer chooses to spend his/her time, and it also is indicative of responsibility, accountability, personal skill set, and time management.”
Awards: If you’ve racked up some impressive achievements throughout your dance career, don’t be afraid to brag a little bit. You can include a brief section on awards and accomplishments if you have extra space.
Memberships and affiliations: You may have relationships with teaching and/or dance organizations that would be beneficial to mention. Be sure to include them, since they underscore your dedication as a dance professional. If you are not a member of any such organizations, it may be worth checking them out. Many organizations offer educational experiences that could help you grow as an instructor.
Relatively inexperienced dance instructors might feel as though their resumes are a bit bare. If you want to add more information to your dance teacher resume, just be sure that it is relevant to the job you’re applying to. You may want to include a skills section where you list other ways you could contribute to the studio. This could include proficiency in a foreign language, experience with bookkeeping or even a CPR or first-aid certification.
Customize for the Job
A resume customized for the position you are seeking is a best practice in any industry. It’s also important to recognize that even among dance-related jobs, your approach should differ. For example, a resume geared towards a teaching position should not be exactly the same as those aimed at landing a performance role. Of the varying types, Calhoun says, “In many ways, the two are very similar; however, the difference lies in the fact that a dance job resume requires industrial-based standards, whereas a dance education resume should blend a more professional approach in its presentation. With any resume, it is important to customize it to the applicable job. As you accomplish more, you will have more to include, and it is important to highlight only the most important, applicable bullet points in order to be concise, representative, and competitive in the pool of applicants.”
General Tips and Tricks
Once you have the necessary information nicely formatted, go through and examine your dance teacher resume using general recommendations as your guide. Keep these suggestions in mind:
Try to keep your dance teacher resume to one page when printed.
Don’t overly embellish the design or layout – steer clear of pictures and fancy fonts.
Don’t ever lie about or exaggerate your experience.
Proofread your resume thoroughly, then have someone else do the same.
Consider an Online Resume
Creating a personal resume website is easier than ever, and is a great fit for showcasing your personality and expertise in a creative field. As Workfolio’s Charley Pooley says, “A website gives you creative freedom to express your personality in ways that are not possible through your resume.”
In addition to the standard information you’d include on a printed resume, going digital allows you to add videos and pictures that illustrate your teaching style and experience. If you go this route, make sure to obtain a video/image release from those who are included, or consider staging a class with those who have signed a release.
Not only are personal websites more visual that printed resumes, they are more visible as well. In a recent survey by Domain.me, more than 70 percent of job applicants believe that hiring managers review their online presence before making a hiring decision. Present the information that you want the world to see, and help make your first impression a good one!
Editor’s note: Additional content has been added to this article in order to provide readers with more in-depth resume advice.
Are you hiring new teachers for your studio? Or, revisiting your teacher contracts? If so, you’re probably considering what to expect from your employees. After all, it’s seldom that dance teachers are required to simply show up and teach class – there’s so much more to the role! Having clear expectations for teachers makes for a successful school. Consider these points when laying out dance teacher responsibilities at your studio.
Responsibilities in the Classroom
There are a number of “givens” that you can expect from any employees working in your studio. These include showing up on time, behaving professionally, being prepared and respectful, and successfully teaching the students. However, there are also a number of supplementary responsibilities that you may also want to outline in a teacher’s contract. The UNITY Dance Organizations explained that dance educators should always provide a safe environment for their students, both physically and emotionally. Additionally, it is important that they serve as role models for dancers in terms of sportsmanship, lifestyle choices and attitude.
Expectations Outside of Teaching
There are a number of dance teacher responsibilities outside the classroom. On a daily basis, teachers should be respectful and supportive of other staff members and as open as possible regarding studio matters. Many studios expect their instructors to become familiar with the parents of their students and help to enforce policies on dress code and behavior. These are pretty standard tasks that you do not need to offer additional compensation for. However, be sure to clearly outline these responsibilities in your employment contracts so teachers know what is expected of them.
When Additional Compensation is Required
Outside of these standard responsibilities, there are instances where you may have to offer additional compensation to your instructors. DanceStudioOwner.com explained that many studios pay their teachers extra to attend certain yearly events, such as open houses, competitions and auditions. Similarly, extra tasks like choreographing routines and conducting private lessons should be compensated accordingly. You’ll want to outline your policies and rates for these tasks before hiring new teachers. This way everyone will be on the same page as to what is part of the job description and what is considered extra work.
In the digital world, every dance studio needs a website, and every site needs an “About Us” section. This page is often home to information about the studio and classes, but it’s also essential to give viewers a little bit of insight into the teachers, directors and owner. If you’ve never written a dance teacher bio before, it can be an intimidating and confusing process. Here are a few tips to help studio owners and instructors create accurate and succinct bios that they’re proud to display.
1. Keep It Short and Sweet
If you’ve been working in the industry for many years, chances are that you could fill up numerous pages with your experience. However, when it comes to writing a dance teacher bio, it’s better to touch on only the most important aspects of your background and keep the text as short as possible. If you’re writing a bio for your website, DanceStudioOwner.com recommended that you lead with the most important information, like your education and biggest accomplishments. A good rule of thumb is that readers shouldn’t have to scroll down the page to read your bio. Try to keep it all “above the fold,” so to speak.
2. Show Your Personality
Your bio doesn’t have to be dry and informational. In fact, many people would argue that it should show your personality as much as it details your experience. Consider who your audience is and adjust your tone accordingly. If your studio caters to young children, you might want to keep your bio light and fun. A school for pre-professionals, on the other hand, may benefit from a more serious tone that emphasizes your commitment to professionalism.
3. Make it Easy to Read
You can write the most informative bio in the world, but if it’s not easy to read, it won’t get the attention it deserves. When drafting, keep in mind that website visitors have short attention spans and want to get information as quickly as possible. Long paragraphs of text seems daunting to visitors, so consider breaking your bio up into sections. After your short and sweet summary with key facts, Dance Kelly Style recommended you include any memberships, accomplishments, honors or titles you may have. These notes can be laid out in bullet format to make them easy to skim through.
Do you find yourself staying long after closing to file paperwork and answer emails? Does your “downtime” at home consist of scheduling social media posts? If the administrative workload at your studio is running you ragged, it might be time to consider hiring a dance studio manager or office manager. Many studios are hiring additional staff to help out with the day-to-day responsibilities that generally fall to the owner. Here are four considerations you should make if you’re thinking about a hiring full- or part-time dance studio manager.
1. Consider Automating or Outsourcing
The first thing you should do when you’re feeling overwhelmed with administrative tasks is to make a list of all the things you’re behind on. Dance Advantage explained that once you have a list in front of you, it will be much easier to determine if you need a new employee or if you could simply invest in some automation software. If your troubles are related to accounting and bookkeeping, you might need to invest in new accounting software. You could also consider outsourcing to an accounting firm. If you spend too much time wiping down the mirrors in your classrooms, you can hire a cleaning service to come in once a week. Once you have an idea about the distribution of your workload, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about hiring a dance studio manager.
2. Weigh the Costs and Benefits
An office manager will definitely help to reduce your workload, but you’re going to have to write another paycheck each week. Dance Studio Life noted that most studio managers expect to receive between $10 and $20 per hour, depending on the size of the office and the responsibilities involved. Try to weigh the time and stress you’ll save against the cost of another salary. If the cost is within your budget, a studio manager might be the way to go. However, if the money would put a strain on your finances, you should probably look into other solutions.
3. Look for Candidates with Experience
When you’re reviewing candidates for the position, keep that list of responsibilities you made handy. It’s in your best interests to choose a manager whose experience lines up with your needs. If you’re behind on filing and paperwork, a candidate who has worked in an office setting would be ideal. Individuals with customer service experience will do a good job answering phones and emails. If you need help with more hands-on tasks like ordering costumes and creating rehearsal schedule, you might want to look for a candidate who’s familiar with the basics of dance. Hiring a manager with the right experience will be beyond helpful in the long run and ensures that he or she will be an asset to your business.
4. Create a Training Plan
Don’t overlook the fact that anyone you hire will need to be trained before they can be a seamless part of your studio. Unfortunately, no one will be able to walk in and immediately know what to do. Even if the candidate has worked in a studio before, no two business are the same, and there will be tasks he or she needs to be walked through. Take time to create a training plan before your new hire starts. The more specific your plan is, the quicker your manager will get the hang of things. You both will benefit from written policies, procedures and schedules. Dance Advantage also recommended explaining what the manager doesn’t need to do. If you want to be the point of contact for parent complaints or to be the only one posting to social media, explain that to your staff member. Sometimes he or she might try to be helpful and take on tasks that you’d prefer to do yourself.
Including a noncompete agreement in your employee contracts seems like the logical choice to protect your studio. However, if you scroll through popular dance forums, when it comes to the non-compete agreements for dance studios, owners and industry professionals say these legal documents aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. There are certain problems that come along with noncompete agreements, some of which undermine their effectiveness. If you’re thinking about implementing a noncompete with your instructors, use these tips to guide the process.
Do: Thorough Research
Before you jump on the Internet and start digging for a noncompete template, you’ll want to do a little background research. Find your state’s guidelines for noncompete documents – there might be certain phrases or clauses you have to include for it to be upheld. You should also look into any local court cases about similar circumstances to see the results. Dance Teacher magazine explained that noncompete agreements are notoriously hard to uphold in court, as ruling against a teacher would compromise his or her ability to make a living. Use this research to guide your construction of the document and develop a backup plan to protect your studio.
Don’t: Put All Your Eggs in a Noncompete Basket
While a formal document might give you peace of mind, there are other ways to protect your business from competition. Don’t underestimate the benefits of having loyal students and teachers. Dance Studio Life noted that when you rotate teachers every season or every year, you can prevent them from building up a base of dancers to take to a new studio. Students that have the same teachers for years in a row are more likely to develop loyalty to them. Try to interact with dancers and their parents so they feel connected to your school. Another good tactic is to simply be a good boss. If your instructors value your expertise and enjoy working at your company, they’ll be less inclined to start a rival studio. Inspiring loyalty in your students and teachers is a supplement, or even an alternative, to a noncompete contract.
Do: Seek Professional Help
As with any legal document, it’s best to have a lawyer look it over. If you can afford to have a lawyer draw up the document, it’s definitely a good option. You can probably find a template on the Internet to structure your noncompete around, but unless you’ve been to law school, there’s a good possibility you’ll miss something. Sometimes just a few wrong words can make the document invalid. If you take the time to seek professional advice when you’re drafting the agreement, you may save yourself time, money and headaches in the long run.
Don’t: Rule Out Other Options
There are a couple other legal routes you can pursue to deter the teacher turned competitors. Dance Teacher magazine explained that nonsolicitation clauses are much more likely to be upheld in court, even if the noncompete contract isn’t. These legal clauses keep your former employees from soliciting your students and staff to join their new studio. Nonsolicitation agreements are more likely to be enforced because they’re viewed as an effort to protect your business’ goodwill. Another option is to create a nondisclosure agreement, which prevents former staff from disclosing your proprietary information, like client lists or business history. This type of legal document can be helpful, but keep in mind that instructors can legally use information they remember and public resources to open their studio.