Tips for Dance Teachers

These dance teacher tips are an expanded list, after a super-fun conversation at Philz Coffee in Midtown Sacramento with Hip-Hop dancer and instructor Jessica Aliganga.

  1. Match the difficulty of your 60-minute class to the “average” dancer (beginning, intermediate, advanced) in your class. (This advice is for dance “class”, not dance team “routines & rehearsals” or “master classes” or “workshops” (per se)).
  2. Watch for students who look frustrated or who’ve just plain given up. If one-third or more of your class is in this category, you need to make a decision to slow it down a bit, or stop the class and “regroup/redefine/reeducate.”
  3. Bring all students close together when giving specific instructions that are new, extra-complicated or need repeating/redefining.
  4. If you as a teacher don’t speak loudly enough to be heard by 30 students, spread out across a wide room, with music blasting – turn down the volume during teaching sessions. Then you can crank the volume after a couple of practice runs.
  5. Experiment by teaching the arm-wave for 10-15 minutes with NO music. Experiment with having your students sit on the floor in a semi-circle and really drill an arm-wave routine.
  6. Experiment by cutting in half the amount of dance moves you normally teach during a 60-minute class. “Drill the basics.” One clean move is more powerful than 3 sloppy moves!
  7. BONUS: the popping arm-wave dance move is the most difficult move for beginners! The. Most. Difficult. Noobies look awkward as hell when they attempt it for the first time. But in their mind they think they’re performing it correctly. They are not! Most humans don’t know what to do with their arms when they’re standing in front of a crowd to give a speech or report, so it makes sense that most of your students won’t have good hand/eye coordination or mind/body connection with their arms yet. The arm-wave is the first legitimate test for each of your students. “Getting it” means they’ll be able to move forward into more advanced popping moves. This may take 3 times longer than you anticipated, but they’ll be superheroes in the real world! Teaching fewer dance moves over a longer period of time will build lasting hand/eye/mind/body confidence – and this will translate into all other dance moves.

I taught popping and break dancing for 2-1/2 years at the Broadway Academy of Performing Arts (when it was located in Carmichael, CA), as well as Popping and Rave workshops for Eric & Corrie Aglia’s Light Vibe Performing Arts studio in Sedona, AZ.

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