What to Look for in a Dance Teacher
There are a number of things you should think about when looking for a dance teacher or leader – both before you get started and throughout your time as a dance participant. Whatever your reason for taking part, participating in dance should be inspiring, rewarding, challenging, creative and fun.
The Dance Register and Quality Assurance
Dance teaching is a largely unregulated industry. The Dance Register has been created to provide dance employers and participants with basic quality assurance. It does this by insisting that all members meet a set of Minimum Entry Requirements, proving they:
- Are over 18 years old and have the right to work in the UK
- Have professional insurances in place appropriate to teaching dance – this includes Public Liability Insurance to a level of £5 million or above
- Have a DBS Check if working with children, young people and/or vulnerable adults
- Have a health & safety policy (click here for a template policy)
- Are committed to regular training and continuing professional development (CPD)
When they join, a dance teacher also signs up to The Dance Register Code of Conduct, which sets out the professional competencies they should possess and the responsibilities they must live up to, along with establishing their commitment to safe working practice, working effectively with people, data protection and confidentiality. Click here to see The Dance Register Code of Conduct.
By using The Dance Register to find a dance teacher, you have already chosen to work with a dance teacher or leader who is committed to operating in a professional manner, and who has the appropriate insurances, policies and procedures in place. The Dance Register does not, however, evaluate a teacher based on teaching qualifications or level of experience - recognising that there are many traditional and non-traditional routes into dance teaching and leading. Instead, a member is asked to use their profile to provide detailed information about their background and work, to help you in your search for a dance teacher.
Before you start - things to think about when choosing a dance teacher
You should look at several profiles on The Dance Register to get an idea of dance professionals who are delivering the kind of dance you are interested in. This will help you decide what you think is important, which will vary depending on the type of dance activity you want to undertake. For example, if you want to work towards graded examinations/competitions in a particular dance style, a teacher's qualifications and membership of specific dance Awarding Organisations are particularly important. If you are looking for a dance leader who works in a particular setting or with a specific participant group (eg. in Health or Social Care and/or with Culturally Diverse Groups), experience of working in that area might be the most important thing for you. Alongside the basic search criteria (your postcode, age group, dance styles), you might want to think about the following when looking for a teacher:
Qualifications – dance teachers and leaders listed on The Dance Register might have a wide range of qualifications relevant to their work, including in dance teaching, safe practice, working with a particular dance style or genre, or in a specific setting or context. Members will generally list any teaching qualifications they have in the Teaching Qualifications section of their profile. All other qualifications will then be included their Recent Training/CPD/Other Qualifications area.
Click here for more detailed information on qualifications.
Level of Experience – making sure a dance teacher or leader has the right level of experience to meet your needs is important. Experience should be weighed up alongside qualifications when looking for a teacher - many high quality dance teachers have built their skills from working with other teachers and learning on the job. Both qualifications and experience are therefore important indicators of a dance practitioner’s skills and capacity as a teacher or leader.
Professional Memberships – DTAP believes professional memberships are an important part of good practice and offer a discount to teachers joining The Dance Register via their membership of a Gateway Organisation. There are a wide variety of professional membership organisations relevant to dance teaching (click here to view organisations currently listed on The Dance Register). You will need to decide which memberships (if any) are relevant to you and the dance you want to take part in. A key consideration is whether you are looking for a teacher who works to syllabuses set by one of the dance Awarding Organisations – if you do, you should filter your search to find a teacher who is a member of the Awarding Organisation you are interested in.
Training and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) – It is important that a dance professional carries out regular training and CPD, to make sure their knowledge and teaching practice is up-to-date. Even if a teacher does not include training or CPD information on their Dance Register profile, you should check what professional development activities they do. Typically, a good dance teacher or leader will aim to undertake at least one form of training or CPD each year. NOTE: CPD is not just training courses – it can include shadowing, peer learning, working with a mentor, reading and/or researching, watching dance and much more!
Once you have selected a teacher or leader from the database, you should carry out further research where possible (visit their website, watch videos posted on their profile, visit their Facebook page). You should then contact them to find out more about their work. If possible, you should also ask to observe one of their dance sessions before you get involved.
Once you’re dancing – Signs of high quality dance teaching and leadership
As a dance participant you should continue to think about the quality of dance teaching/leadership you are receiving. How you feel about dancing - your enjoyment, learning and personal skills development - will largely depend on the teaching skills of your teacher or leader. Whilst some of this will depend on your personal priorities and engagement with your teacher or leader as an individual, there are some key things you should look out for. Your teacher should:
- Have specialist knowledge in the dance style they are teaching
- Plan their sessions, set clear learning outcomes, use resources to promote learning, provide constructive feedback to participants, and reflect on their own teaching practice
- Be punctual and effective in their dance teaching/leadership – sessions should be organised and run on time, allowing for maximum input and engagement from participants
- Communicate all aspects of safe dance practice through their own practice
- Understand creative approaches to teaching and learning in dance and use a range of strategies to inspire, meet participants’ individual learning needs and enable them to fulfil their potential
- Believe in the value of dance and have a passion for sharing dance with the people they work with. A good teacher or leader will come across as dedicated to leading dance participation, and to teaching others to dance.
- Understand and meet the different needs of participants of varied abilities, ages, backgrounds and stages of development. A good dance teacher will communicate to the whole group during a session, make everyone feel engaged and involved regardless of their level of skill and experience.
- maintain a working knowledge of any particular setting or participant group with whom they work (eg. if working in the Criminal Justice System, or with physically disabled adults)
- Deliver appropriate, challenging and impactful dance activities safely and effectively
- Be able to successfully integrate composition, performance and appreciation (where appropriate)
- Maintain a working knowledge of relevant legislation
You should also feel confident in asking your teacher or leader questions about the dance sessions you take part in (eg. aims and objectives), and their wider dance practice.
Further Reading and Primary Sources:
Interested in learning more about the skills and competencies you should look for in a dance teacher or leader? The primary sources for information on this page are listed below - links are provided where available:
Dance In and Beyond Schools, Youth Dance England, 2010
Dance Links, DCMS in collaboration with Youth Dance England, National Dance Teachers Association, 2005
National Occupational Standards in Dance Leadership, Creative & Cultural Skills, 2011