24 Apr These are the skills an (urban) dance teacher should master..
Knowledge (history Of the style )
Any style you master has a story to it. The history of that style should be known by you. To become a great teacher one must master the knowledge about the style. There’s no point in teaching what you don’t know. And if you don’t know,organize workshops or send you’re kids to workshops that you think they can benefit from.
As a teacher you’re an example for your students. Students tend to question your skills sometimes so it’s important to know your foundation really well and to show that you can do it. What helps a lot is after every class show them how far they could go just with the steps they’ve learned that day.
Foundation of music/Rythm
This is the most important one. We as dancers move WITH the music not TO the music. You have to be able to show the difference between musicality and rythm. Dissect every sound and afterwards blend them together in a clear way so people understand what you’re dancing to. For the rythm part you must master your steps (walking on the beat). Learn the foundation on how to build patterns and how to recognize patterns. basic rythm tutorial can be found on youtube or ask other teachers how they approach it.
Knowledge of the culture
Get involved in the culture. Meet people you’ve never met before. built friendship,love, partners,brothers. One of the pillars is unity with them there’s no community without community there’s no culture. Besides dancing get involved in something else try organizing,DJ-ing,MC-ing,Promoting. The one thing we all love is Travelling. Seek knowledge,share knowledge,network. It will only make you understand the culture better. Last but no least at least once in your life you should visit the birthplace of that style.
Patience and passion
Teaching is a discipline in and on itself. Once your knowledge is at an acceptable level, meaning above average, you will need a real urge to pass it on to others. In a teacher’s career you will see it all. From the student that just does not practice to the parents that will tell you how to do your job to the ultra motivated that cannot stop dancing and asking questions. You will have to adapt, inspire, support, come up with a never ending amount of exercises/choreography and much more. You are responsible for the results of your students no matter the circumstances and teaching should be something your crave for, not just something you do.
Having knowledge is extremely important but you’ll need to know how to bring it across. Teaching is not just showing. It is making use of all possible assets at your disposal to help the student get it. Get to know how to decompose your movements so it becomes understandable for everybody. Learn how to use your bodylanguage and voice to stimulate and entertain your students. To keep your student alert for the entire class you’ll need to know how to adapt your tempo, variate your explanation, give sufficient corrections etc. There are also lots of things that can go wrong and you are expected to be able to fix it right away. I have put together a video series that you can watch about teaching urban dance classes. You can access them here (link). Having more than one trick under your belt will allow you to feel more confident and give you more room to entertain your groups. Believe me, that matters a lot! Students do not come back to boring classes and do not stick around long term if you cannot teach.
It is fair to say that what we are doing with our bodies it not really “natural”. We put a lot of stress on our knees and back. As an experienced dancer, our body has developed a tolerance and muscular support that allows us to sometimes go to the extreme. It is easy to forget that our students do not know how to perform movements safely and will pretty much blindly follow what we say. It is therefor crucial that we would know what the limitations of the human body are so we can safely instruct our students on how to do it. Knowing, at least, the basics of anatomy and physiology can go a long way in helping your prepare classes that are tailor-made for your specific audience. Take the time to take a first aid training so you know what to do in case of an emergency. Believe me, I’ve been there and it is scary.
How to run a business
So if you master all of the above you are in the top 5% of teachers on the market but this doesn’t mean you will have work in overload. You’ll still have to make a name for yourself. It comes in handy to have a little bit of training in how to promote yourself. There are many tools at your disposal nowadays. You can use social media or www.dance-radar.com for example. There are some really interesting online classes on Udemy that will teach you enough to get started.
The other aspect of business we tend to forget is bookkeeping. I know, you probably just got the shivers suddenly. I get that too. We are artist and anything admin just makes us want to kill ourselves but it is inevitable. You’ll have to learn how to manage your bills, fill in your taxes etc. Good advise would be for you to bite through the bitterness once at the beginning so you know how to protect yourself. It will be fine from then on.