(This blog first appeared on our sister site CubanSalsaSchool)
Typically, there’s no formal way you have to go through to become a Social Dance teacher. As the name suggests, Social Dance comes from traditions and social settings rather than learned in art schools like Ballet or Flamenco for example. It is normally danced in clubs or house parties by Bailadores (social dancers) rather than Bailarinas (professional dancers).
Opportunities to teach come to social dancers normally by word of mouth in their local scene at first, and then they learn to teach mostly through personal trial and error. While there’s no doubt that personal experience holds the best lessons, there are a few things we can learn from the beginning to become a great dance teacher/instructor.
1. Good dance teachers care about the class,
GREAT dance teachers care about the students
Great dance teachers not only teach and make sure the lesson goes well, but they also develop relationships with their individual students. Great dance teachers take time to know who their students are, what they’re good at, what they need help in, and how they learn best.
2. Good dance teachers can teach good choreography,
GREAT dance teachers can teach how to dance
Great dance teachers will help their students understand their body better. It is obvious when a teacher is just trying to get through the sections until they reach some checkpoint.
Great dance teachers will help their students explore different ways of executing movements and fully absorb whatever amount of choreography taught. They teach their students to dance.
3. Good dance teachers give a lot of encouragement,
GREAT dance teachers give encouragement and constructive feedback
Great dance teachers know how to balance both praise and constructive criticism.
Great dance teachers understand that it’s not their job to baby their students, but to push them to become better.
4. Good dance teachers come prepared,
GREAT dance teachers come prepared to be flexible
Great dance teachers come truly prepared, which means they’re ready to adapt at moment’s notice. This means they are great not just for one specific situation, but for all situations – for example, if the class goes slower or quicker than expected then the teacher adapts the pace.
5. Good dance teachers love to dance,
GREAT dance teachers love to dance and love to teach
Not all scientists make good science teachers and not all artists make good art teachers. Teaching requires a different set of skills. To be a dance teacher, you probably love to dance a lot already, but to become an educator, you will need to really pursue it.
6. Good dance teachers create good dancers,
GREAT dance teachers create a community
Great dance teachers understand that a supportive community will help dancers grow even more and later on can give their own contributions to the scene, and this is especially true in partner dancing where the social aspect is equally important as the technical skills of dancing.
7. Good dance teachers teach a lot for more experience,
GREAT dance teachers never stop learning
Great dance teachers are also a lifelong student so that they never run out of dance vocabularies to pass on to the students. Great dance teachers learn different styles and types of dances to develop their own artistry for the craft and to find better ways of teaching.
Hopefully this article will inspire you to keep improving your teaching skills and never stop learning. If you’re interested, we have a new online course titled Effective Dance Teaching underway. You can pre-order it now to get access to the course at its lowest price. Click the link here to find out more.