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#1 shinyhappypeople

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 04:18 PM

What's the best way to prepare a student for a career as a dance teacher?  In particular, I could see her teaching dance to children or adults with special needs or physical limitations. 

(Oh my gosh.  That moment when you realize that maybe the struggles she's faced were lessons and she's on the road she's on for a reason, and it could potentially lead to something amazing that could bring so much JOY to so many people, and the world is going to be kinder and more beautiful because she struggled .... wow... give me a minute...  talk amongst yourselves...)

 

OK, so anyway, how would she prepare for this career?  She is not even remotely interested in the traditional college route, but is open to the idea of taking specific courses that interest her.  I think some kind of volunteer work or apprenticeship might help, not even so much dance-specific, since nothing like that exists here, but maybe... something else?  I'm drawing a blank.  Toss your best ideas at me.  


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#2 mathnerd

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 04:32 PM

How about starting off as a junior instructor with her current dance studio or teacher? That is a path followed by many kids in my son's martial arts school - they teach as junior instructors until they qualify to be a teacher themselves.



#3 Farrar

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 06:05 PM

I think this may not be the case in more small town and outer suburban communities, but here, every single dance teacher that ds has had over the years either went all the way through with a pre-professional ballet program and then danced professionally in a serious ballet company for at least a little while OR went all the way through with a pre-professional ballet program and then danced with various small modern companies or even had their own really small modern companies. The teachers he's had who were actually making their living completely from dance teaching were all quite serious dancers with well known companies.

 

My understanding is that kids who specifically want to teach need to do a wide variety of dance styles as well and get experience with choreography.

 

Around here, they get the kids in the older ballet classes to get SSL/community service hours by being the assistants for the younger classes. Ds was supposed to do it, but the little kids freak him out. Sigh.


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#4 justasque

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 06:57 PM

What's the best way to prepare a student for a career as a dance teacher?  In particular, I could see her teaching dance to children or adults with special needs or physical limitations. 

(Oh my gosh.  That moment when you realize that maybe the struggles she's faced were lessons and she's on the road she's on for a reason, and it could potentially lead to something amazing that could bring so much JOY to so many people, and the world is going to be kinder and more beautiful because she struggled .... wow... give me a minute...  talk amongst yourselves...)

 

OK, so anyway, how would she prepare for this career?  She is not even remotely interested in the traditional college route, but is open to the idea of taking specific courses that interest her.  I think some kind of volunteer work or apprenticeship might help, not even so much dance-specific, since nothing like that exists here, but maybe... something else?  I'm drawing a blank.  Toss your best ideas at me.  

 

What Farrar said for classical ballet taught to serious students.  
 

But you're talking more about dance as therapy (physical or occupational or emotional), or dance as fitness, yes?  

You can go to college for dance, and perhaps "dance therapy" or something similar, but be very careful, as it can be expensive and you may not get the return on investment you'd like after spending all that money.  If you go that route, look at lots of schools and dig deep into their curricula and philosophy to get the right fit.

Our family has had dance teachers who went the classical ballet route, taking serious classes for years as a child then work with a professional company.  I have to say I much prefer these teachers, regardless of what genre or setting they are teaching in, because they have a foundation in both the actual dance part, but also in the ritual and etiquette of teaching class, which makes them very effective teachers.  Even serious hip-hop teachers, who are unlikely to have a classical ballet background, are much better if they've cross-trained in genres like jazz and African and perhaps some contemporary, and if they've had significant company experience and/or training.

I've also had fitness-dance classes taught by both highly/formally trained teachers and those who have a more "direct entry" background.  While there have been some good teachers who have more talent and instinct than formal training, I've found that most of the really good ones turn out to have had serious dance training (not always ballet) as teens and young adults.  The reverse is also often true; those who are not great often simply don't have the quality dance background/training, even if they have the Zumba certification or what-have-you.  The key qualities for a fitness instructor are enthusiasm and the ability to run a class in a professional way, sensitive to how the students are doing with the ability to change plans on the fly to meet the needs of their students.  Direct-entry is possible, but the more quality training they have, in more-or-less any dance genre with good teachers, the better they can be.

 

I've also been part of a studio where the student body includes both serious dancers and those we call "once-a-weekers".  The OWs include a variety of kids with special needs.  For these students, while some amount of dance training is useful, what's key is a sensitive, thoughtful teacher.  Some of the teachers at this studio came up as kids in the studio, and while they've had some formal training, it's nowhere near what teachers at a pre-pro, company school would have.  But for the special needs kids, that's not important.  It's the teacher's ability to nurture the child's ability and to help them enjoy expression and movement though dance that's key.

 

What local resources does your dc have?  Do you have quality classes with excellent teachers?  Can your dc spend 15-20 hours taking class every week, year-round?  Do you have access to master classes, ideally studio-based (because of fewer students) or perhaps at dance conventions?  

 

I would also suggest that your dc watch lots and lots of dance performances in a wide variety of genres.  So many dance students have really only seen their local studio's recital, or perhaps other studios at competitions, which doesn't really cover the full dance world.  Get out and see dance - ballet, of course, but also contemporary, African, hip-hop, ballroom, tap, jazz, musical theater, "audience pleasing" things, alternate/fringe things - really everything you can find!  


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#5 Lori D.

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 08:03 PM

Here's an article you may find interesting: "Dance Movement Therapy". :)

 

Definitely agree with justasque and Farrar's advice about *dancing* with pre-professional programs, about exposure to a wide variety of types of dances, and about "junior assistant teaching" as she continues her own dance training through high school.

 

Other things that would be vital: some basic business coursework in entrepreneurship, bookkeeping, and running your own business. Even if she doesn't own her own studio and only ever works as an instructor at someone else's studio, she will likely be an independent contractor and need to understand how to:

- market/advertise for business

- create her own basic website and design basic flyers

- keep her own administrative paperwork and financial records

- do her own taxes

Because those are EXPENSIVE services to have to pay for, and teaching dance earns very LITTLE.

 

Some of these support skills could be done as high school Math credits or Elective credits, or could be done as dual enrollment at your local community college.

 

Ideas:

ALEKS -- Fundamentals of Accounting Sole Proprietorship; Business Math

Alpha-Omega Lifepac Accounting

Practical Accounting Fundamentals

Switched On Schoolhouse Small Business Entrepreneurship

Interactive Web Developer Course

Practical Graphic Design

 

I would also highly encourage the possibility (either as dual enrollment in the last 2 years of high school, or post high school) of training and a 1-year certificate or Associate's degree in therapeutic massage or physical therapy technician. Skills in those areas will give her additional understanding in how muscles work and the body moves for helping those with special physical needs, and would be terrific back-up skills in case she needs additional financial income.

 

Good luck as you and DD plan for high school and beyond! :) Warmest regards, Lori D.


Edited by Lori D., 18 May 2017 - 08:03 PM.

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#6 Rebel Yell

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 10:07 AM

Most importantly, have her get the best TRAINING possible right now. Her own technique will become very important later. Ask to assist teachers, which may be just lining up little kids and getting props, but have her pay attention to how the teachers teach.

A performing career is not always necessary- many of the most excellent performers aren't good teachers, rather they are good "demonstrators". But it will depend on whether she wants to teach classical ballet at a major city program, or a smaller recreational studio. The big company studios usually require extensive performing experience. Many rcrational studios hire former students with little training beyond what the studio provided to them.

Likewise, some with little professional performance experience are excellent teachers, able to break down steps and explain it in a way that is easily understood. Diamond had a lifetime of very good training, but not full-time classical ballet, and no performing company experience. She has a very sharp eye for detail. A proud moment came via one of her high school musical students- he was not a dance student. He said she made him feel like he knew how to dance, when the previous choreographer just yelled at them for not knowing how to dance.

If your DD plans to work with special needs students, she will likely need more formal training to more fully understand development and adaptive steps. A college degree would be best, but maybe there are studios and programs that would work with an apprentice. And working with older adult beginners is not the same as children or even teens. Progress will be weird- we may pick things up in our head long before our body is capable, and we'll have different goals- fitness and flexibility more so than going en pointe or getting a lead role in a dance production, KWIM?

Also, many dance conventions have teacher training seminars, but usually you have to be 16 or 18, and are more of a supplement rather than all you need.

And no matter what path she takes for the actual dance aspects, I VERY HIGHLY CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH recommend some business and personal finance classes. In nearly every business I have experience with, especially dance studios and salons, very rarely was the actual quality of the service an issue- but poor business practices have driven us away from any otherwise good places. I have also watched very talented people go out of business due to a lack of business knowledge. And sadly, I have seen mediocre to poor quality places, dance studios included, thrive due to excellent business skills and marketing.
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#7 Rach

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 11:10 AM

I don't know anything about this subject but what about checking into an OT or PT assistant program at a community college? Even if she doesn't want to be an OTA, or a PTA, some of the classes could really help with developing therapy dance classes.

If she wants to own her own studio, I would also think she would want some sort of basic business training. Whether that's a business class through a community college or a workshop through the Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau I think it would be helpful.
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#8 Storygirl

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 04:00 PM

I agree with the previous posters. Even if ballet is not her favorite, it is widely considered the best foundation for understanding all forms of dance. Dance instructors need to have achieved a high level of training themselves, even to teach younger children.

 

There are college programs that will teach dance pedagogy (how to teach). However, teaching dance is generally a low paying profession, so college may require a financial investment that will not be returned with a livable salary. Most dance classes are after school and on weekends, and even at our large pre-professional studio attached to a professional ballet company, most instructors are part-timers.

 

To be accepted into a college dance program, students have to be at a very high technical level, so continuing her training at a very good studio would be an appropriate priority. I don't know how much dance she has taken, or if she is a ballet student, but in the teen years, intense training requires 20 plus hours per week at the studio, so it is a significant commitment of time and money.

 

Being able to choreograph is a big plus, because teachers choreograph recital pieces for their students.

 

Working with special needs dancers is a really admirable goal! But she would need to prepare to be a general dance teacher, mainly, because most dance students will be taking the regular classes, and that is where the jobs will be. Any special training she could get for understanding and working with those with disabilities would be key.

 

Perhaps she could train intensively as a dancer through high school, attend college to study special education, and minor in dance. She could then work with students in schools during the day and be a dance teacher as a part time gig. This is assuming she is college bound, which I know not all are. If she is not college bound, she might consider doing a vocational school program focusing on those who are interested in teaching and education, which could prepare her to be a teacher's aid or preschool teacher for her main job right out of high school. Dance could then be her part time job. Or if she got a full-time position as a dance teacher, that educator training would come in very handy.

 

Yes for the business training if she would want to own or manage a studio.

 

All this is not meant to be discouraging in any way -- just a realistic description of the path, which is a long and rigorous one!

 

 


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#9 Kuovonne

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 06:26 PM

One of the instructors at my kids' ballet studio was homeschooled through high school. I don't know if she took any college classes at the community college, but she did not go away to a traditional four year college. I believe that she started teaching at our studio when she was 19 or 20.

She was a student at the studio at the pre-professional level for many years. Then she left the studio for a year or so and came back as an instructor. I believe that she joined a local dance company, took classes in various places, and also worked as a subsitute dance teacher for multiple studios in multiple genres. She was a guest teacher at our studio for a few classes in the spring before she was hired as a regular teacher. Since teaching at our studio, she has also worked on her ABT certification.

She is an amazing lady with a very strong work ethic, outgoing, cheerful personality, and a nack for understanding dance.
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#10 Farrar

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 07:13 AM

When I read this, I didn't even think of dance as exercise teachers... silly me. I think that's a path that's much more open and might be combined with other fitness career positions. Like, I know that places that do things like Zumba and BollyX also do personal trainer stuff.

 

But, building on Lori's suggestions for consumer math and business preparation, you might also do more anatomy in your homeschool - sports anatomy and anatomy for dancers would be useful things to know. I'm not sure what the programs would be, but that seems like a good avenue for research.


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#11 deerforest

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 04:52 PM

Is she interested in aerial dancing at all? I only mention this because it's a bit wider open than traditional dance, which means there are some pros and cons comparatively. DD (12+) has been doing it for nearly 6 years now, and is a teaching assistant and helps at workshops, in addition to her training.

 

Unlike traditional dance, there are not many established programs for aerial and other circus arts in the US. There are professional track programs that are non-degree, but for degree programs you have to travel outside of the US, typically to Canada or Europe. (this is a con for us) As a result, many people stick to the professional programs in the US. Or, there are several instructor programs, but obviously you need to have a high level of skill or interest. (these are both pros for us!)

 

Aerial has also become quite popular for serious pro level training, fitness classes, children's therapy, and social circus (using circus skills for social advocacy). 

 

DD is hoping for an aerial career at some level, but she's also interested in massage therapy, education, anatomy/physiology, etc. She can start taking instructor training at 16 (possibly sooner with permission), and she can't wait!



#12 justasque

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 05:41 PM

I would also mention that the recreational teachers I know who support themselves through dance-related jobs often work at the dance studio doing other things along with teaching their classes.  Studios need someone who can deal with ordering and distributing costumes, keep track of tuition payments, answer phones, take care of all of the logistics around the dance team's trips to conventions/competitions, run birthday parties, help at dress rehearsals and recitals, create social media outreach including flyers for special events, website updates, informative emails, etc.   Someone who has good "office skills", along with dance/performance skills, can be a real asset to a dance studio, which can extend their opportunities to support themselves within the dance world, and perhaps ultimately open their own studio if that's their goal.


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#13 Mimm

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 06:18 PM

In my town, I think most teachers have a degree in dance or they are in the process of getting one. They may or may not have danced professionally (in my boring town, most probably have not). In many studios, they can start off being assistant teachers in the youngest classes as teenagers. My daughter's dance class (2-4 year olds) has a 14 year old girl assisting the teacher.

 



#14 shinyhappypeople

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 12:32 AM

Thanks for the suggestions.  I'm not sure what a "pre-professional" studio is.  There's one in town that might fit the bill (they get pretty intense at the higher levels), but we kind of hate it because they are not a body positive environment.  DD doesn't have a traditional ballerina's body and they shamed her for it even as a 7 and 8 year old.  So... yeah.  We're staying away from there.   

 

How would she go about learning more about working with people with a wide range of potential disabilities, everything from autism or Down's syndrome to someone who has a physical disability?   

 

I'm not sure how much of an interest there would be for something like this.


Edited by shinyhappypeople, 21 May 2017 - 12:33 AM.


#15 Rebel Yell

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 07:35 AM

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm not sure what a "pre-professional" studio is. There's one in town that might fit the bill (they get pretty intense at the higher levels), but we kind of hate it because they are not a body positive environment. DD doesn't have a traditional ballerina's body and they shamed her for it even as a 7 and 8 year old. So... yeah. We're staying away from there.

How would she go about learning more about working with people with a wide range of potential disabilities, everything from autism or Down's syndrome to someone who has a physical disability?

I'm not sure how much of an interest there would be for something like this.


In the most literal sense, a pre-professional studio is anyone that teaches students before they become professionals... but it is generally accepted to mean a classical ballet-focused school that the most serious students would go to in preparation for a professional career, and will often be affiliated with a professional performing company, not a dance competition group for that calls itself a "company." A high school student would be expected to be in class4-6 hours per day, 4-6 days per week. Most of them will also have auditions for admission and placement, and will offer 3-8+ week summer intensive programs, consisting of 6-8+ hours of dance/rehearsal/conditioning per day for high school level students, or if the school doesn't offer its own, it will help students find and audition for summer intensive in other cities.

My nearby city's major company has an affiliated school, and there is also an adaptive dance program. You can read about it here https://www.pbt.org/...adaptive-dance/ and also poke around the website to get an idea of the training involved. They don't have classes specifically for how to teach dance, they are geared toward a performing career in ballet, but it is information that would be good to be familiar with.

Something else to consider: if her interest is with special needs and adults, consider musical theater. There are many special needs groups in my area, and musical theater seems very well suited to special needs, I see many for kids on the Autism spectrum, but that may just be because I know so many people involved personally, like the founder of this group: https://www.jumpingjacktheater.org

As far as finding out what she'd need to do for training, look up the staff bios on websites of studios and companies that offer what she's interested in. Ask to meet or email with someone in the field.
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#16 Farrar

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 01:19 PM

Ds's studio runs this cool program, which was designed by physical therapists and dance instructors: Physical therapy might be another avenue for her to explore that might pair well with dance.

http://www.marylandy...sic-and-motion/

It sounds like that's the sort of thing she'd be really into.

 

Ds's studio is pretty good about the body issue stuff as pre-professional studios go, though I admit we're on the outskirts of that as a family with a male dancer. But their top level classes have a real variety of body types and I've seen a number of girls who are far from stick thin skinny in the top levels over the years (it's still ballet... I've never seen a girl I'd call overweight... but if you can dance for several hours every day as a teen, then it won't make you stick thin because that's up to genetics and a number of other factors, but you're going to be in your best athletic shape for sure). I just say to tell you that it's not inevitable that all serious studios are going to be anorexia factories. (Though even the "good" studios can be not as body positive as one might want, I'm sure...)

 

It's probably my bias for ballet showing, but I would assume that even if her ultimate goals are to teach dance for fitness, dance for therapeutic purposes, or some other goal like that... that getting a good grounding in serious ballet would still be a good idea if at all possible. Ballet is just the underpinning of so much in dance.

 

 


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#17 Lecka

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 04:47 PM

My son with autism took drama therapy with drama therapy college students.

Really awesome stuff!

However the students' employment prospects were not great, because to work in a school required some kind of teaching-type certificate or degree, or speech therapy, or occupational therapy.

But the same students also could work with senior adults and my impression is that graduates would get jobs at nursing homes or parks and recreation programs with classes for older adults.

I think dance and movement are an awesome, awesome background and "hook" to work with special needs kids.

But for where I live... it seems like a studio offers one class. Or a summer program hires someone to do a movement/dance/yoga class and it is a special needs-friendly program or a special needs programs.

It doesn't seem like it is steady employment. It seems like people tend to head towards a "steady employment" kind of degree/certificate and then add in their special talent or interest.

It sounds so wonderful!!!!!! How great for your daughter!!!!!!!!!!!

#18 Hilltopmom

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 06:43 PM

My did started assisting in the little kids classes at her studio at age 12-13. She loves it.
Several girls have worked their way up & do teach classes now that they're in college locally.

All the teachers, including the studio owners, have other jobs that pay the bills, FYI (small town here too, popular studio but not gonna support a family working there). All those teachers & the owner are former professional dancers (music theater, ballet, or hip hop)

There is usually one special needs friendly class offered a week at the dance & yoga studios here. The yoga lady, does have certificates in teaching special Ed too, not just yoga. Not sure about dance.

I had a few dance therapy major friends in college, they all had to go back for a better degree, in teaching, counseling, theater education, OTA, etc

Edited by Hilltopmom, 22 May 2017 - 03:39 PM.