Dance has been described as art in motion, poetry of the foot and communication
between body and soul. It can be free flowing or carefully choreographed.
But mastering the art form takes skill, technique and lots of practice. That's
where dance instructors come into play.
Dance instructors teach students of all ages and backgrounds to express
themselves through the art of dance. Most dance instructors specialize in
a particular style of dance like ballroom, ballet, hip hop, modern or ethnic.
Dance instructors work in studios, dance conservatories, dance companies
and public and private schools and colleges. They are responsible not only
for leading classes, but also for planning classes and evaluating students.
Many dance instructors also choreograph performances for their classes and
put together recitals. The number of hours instructors work varies.
"Take the number of hours you work in the studio and double it. There are
endless hours of work put in at home in preparation for classes taught," says
Donna Moreau. She's a dance instructor and president of a dance teachers'
Marc-Andre Clement is a dance instructor, international fitness presenter
and a national executive director of Culture Shock, a not-for-profit hip hop
dance organization. He says that in his peak physical condition, when he
was 25 and 26 years old, he could on occasion teach 30 hours per week. It
was hard on his body, even though he was very fit. He says that a lot of dancers
teach and do other jobs to make ends meet.
"It is the typical life of an artist -- struggling, not making too much
money and striving for that ultimate success," he says. "But when you love
your job it doesn't seem like you're struggling."
Good news for struggling dance instructors is that there is a cultural
trend towards dance. It has been spurred on by popular TV shows such as So
You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars, and America's Best Dance
Crew. Movies like Step Up, Step Up 2: The Streets and How She Move have also
contributed to the trend.
"Dance is on the cultural radar now in a way that it hasn't been since
the great movies of the 1930s and '40s," says Kelly Burnette. She's a dance
teacher at Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto, Florida.
Burnette says this trend has led to many schools asking their physical
education teachers to teach dance as part of the curriculum. And the teachers
are "desperate for information," she says. Burnette has taught many workshops
for physical education teachers, showing them how to teach dance to their
Clement says that being a dance instructor is very physically demanding.
However, there are some opportunities for dancers with disabilities. Dance
organizations such as Dancing Wheels and AXIS Dance Company include dancers
Dance instructors must be able to demonstrate a good stance and well-controlled
carriage of the upper body. Instructing keeps them on their feet most of the
working day. Moreau says a well-trained teacher is also able to verbally explain
many aspects of body placement and technique.
"Injuries are not common," she says. "If you are properly warmed up before
you begin your class and remember to demonstrate movements within your physical
range, you should be fine."