Maybe you daydream about working in a wood-floored dance studio, helping young ballerinas learn their first pirouette or demi-plie at the bar. Or perhaps you’d like to work with serious professional dancers as they perfect complex choreography before a big show. No matter what type you prefer, there’s an allure to becoming a dance teacher, which combines a passion for dance with a desire to teach others. Learn what requirements dance teachers must meet in order to work professionally.
Perhaps more important than a college degree or professional certificate, dance teachers must have experience to succeed in their profession. Whether you studied dance as a child, completed apprenticeships at local studios or toured the world as a professional dancer, the knowledge and experience gained become invaluable assets. From understanding safety and alignment principles to creating choreography and maintaining studio discipline, dance experience helps professionals accurately convey knowledge and insider tips related to dance. Many dance studios, dance companies and fine arts academies consider previous dance experience a basic requirement for teaching dance.
While not necessarily a requirement, prospective dance teachers may choose to study dance in an academic environment while working toward a four-year college degree in dance or fine arts. You may learn about dance history, choreography, performance preparation and participating in dance performances. Schools may permit dance students to specialize in one type of dance (for example, ballet) or require students to take introductory classes in numerous dance types including jazz, tap, modern, folk and dancing for musical theater. College dance students will likely be required to participate in dance performances.
Some dance instructors may choose to augment formal education and dance experience with professional licensure. While not yet required (except for teachers offering dance instruction in public K-12 schools), professional licenses help demonstrate that you take your job seriously. Before committing time and money to academies promising a professional dance license or certificate, ask for references from previous students, or call preferred dance studios or dance companies to ask whether they acknowledge or approve of the licensing program. To become a licensed public school dance teacher, you’ll need to complete traditional teacher training courses related to curriculum, instruction and assessment before completing additional units in dance instruction. Otherwise, community dance teachers may teach in the public schools under the supervision of a traditional credentialed teacher. You’ll likely be required to complete a background check and TB skin test before being permitted to work with students.
Dance studios may require dance teachers to hold liability insurance before interacting with students. Purchase your own liability insurance policy, and request that the dance studio require all participants to sign waivers before partaking in dance class activities. Never attempt to diagnose a student’s injury resulting from dance instruction; always advise students to take a break when physical challenges related to dancing become overly intense.
Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.