In these first weeks of September, dance studios across the country are embarking on the beginning of a new dance season. It’s not just cute toddlers in pink tutus who may be new to a studio. The Dance Current was on the ground at the inaugural Toronto Dance Teacher Expo in August to ask participants, “What advice would you give to dance instructors embarking on their career?”
Gain confidence through connections
No instructor is an island. The learning continues and it happens through developing and maintaining connections in your field.
“Find a mentor, someone you admire, and shadow them in their classes. Ask them about how they started their career. Don’t be afraid to take initiative and approach studios where you want to work.” ~ Meaghan Giusti, owner and artistic director of Broadway Arts Centre and co-founder of Dance Educators International, Toronto, ON
“Get themselves to things like this [Toronto Dance Teacher Expo], where you can gain access to other teachers.” ~ Erin Kochler, teacher at Jo-Ann Adams School of Dance, Simcoe, Ontario, and The Dance Centre, Kitchener, ON
Know what is expected of you
Clarity is key.
“The most important thing as a studio teacher is knowing what product the studio director wants. Make sure what you want as a teacher and artist is in conjunction to what the studio director wants.” ~ Kevin “Tokyo” Inouye, contemporary technique guest instructor
“Develop good communication skills. Talk to your boss about their expectations in terms of hours, pay and vision. Be clear about your expectations. Make sure it is a good fit philosophically. ” ~ Barb Robinson, teacher at The Dance Studio of Académie Ste. Cécile, Windsor, ON
Be practical and prepared
Whether you are looking for teaching work, have secured it, or are a bold entrepreneur, know the scope of what you are pursuing.
“Make sure your resumé is teaching-specific.” ~ Meaghan Giusti, owner and artistic director of Broadway Arts Centre and co-founder of Dance Educators International, Toronto, ON
“Be prepared. Do your lesson plans for the whole year. Know what you want to accomplish with your classes.” ~ Melissa Klassen, founder and director of Acrobatique AcroDance, Calgary, AB
“Start small and build from the beginning. Don’t take on more than what you can handle so this passion of yours doesn’t cost you money. Go into a market where there is a need for a studio. Focus on the little ones because they grow into big ones!” ~ Jacqueline Willis, director of Jacqueline’s School of Dance, Pickering, ON
Take a holistic approach
Dance is not just a physical skill. Be sure to address all aspects of your teaching practice and your students’ learning experience.
“Remember that teaching is a body and brain connection. What a student thinks about themselves has as much to do with their results as their physical ability.” ~ Deborah Vogel, neuromuscular educator and movement analyst creator of The Body Series, Oberlin, Ohio
“You’ll make mistakes and that’s ok as long as you learn from them.” ~ Valerie Balcaen, teacher at Marquis Dance Academy, Winnipeg, MB
“Be kind to yourself and true to yourself as an artist.” ~ Barb Robinson, The Dance Studio of Académie Ste. Cécile, Windsor, ON