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Our Advice for Putting Together Your First Lesson as a Private Dance Tutor

By Yann, published on 24/04/2018 Blog > Arts and Hobbies > Dance > How to Prepare Dance Classes

Long before teaching dancing was a profession and artistic discipline, it was just a popular hobby.

Nowadays there are plenty of professional dancers looking to transfer their knowledge to aspiring dancers and performing arts students. However, even experienced dancers can mess up their first lessons by underestimating just how much they need to prepare in order to teach an effective dance class.

When it comes to writing lesson plans for students, you need to engage them and encourage them to learn and incorporate a range of different teaching strategies in your lesson plan.

Follow our guide for teachers and tutors and learn to plan your first tutorial as a private dance tutor, effectively introduce yourself to new students so they’ll want to keep improving by getting dance lessons with you, and inspire the future generation of dancers with the freedom of working outside of a dance company.

Offer Dance Tutorials Tailored to the Student’s Needs

Choose the Right Style of Dance

As with all subjects, if you want to teach people how to dance, it has to be an enjoyable and interactive experience with a clear objective so that your students have an awareness of whether they’re learning.

Which are the most popular types of dance tutorials? Whatever style of dance you teach, you’ll find teaching it rewarding. (Source: kikatani)

When you learn to dance, you need to learn about music and how to move. This can be a lot to take on board for new students, even with the help of an instructor.

It’s not just about doing exactly the same as classically trained dance instructors. You need to understand what goes into the lesson planning of contemporary dance classes, modern jazz classes, and ballet classes, which are some of the most popular styles of tutorials. You can’t just give your student a handout or a pile of worksheets and expect them to learn, your lessons need to be interactive, especially when it comes to a subject like dancing.

This doesn’t mean that your lessons have to be exactly what they expect. An informal conversation with your student will help you with your preparation and by listening to your student, you can get new teaching ideas for your next lessons. How you plan your lessons should be guided by your student’s feedback and what they want to learn to do.

Successful tutors don’t just rely on their dancing abilities, they have to make their tutorials original and interesting.

While some teachers can teach a variety of different styles, other tutors might prefer to focus on just a few styles. Even complete beginners can tell when a tutor is teaching a style that they don’t really like. No amount of interesting classroom activities on your lesson plans will hide the fact that your heart’s just not in it.

You could offer tutorials such as:

  • Tap Classes
  • Sports Dance Classes (Zumba, etc.)
  • Argentine Tango Classes
  • Cuban Salsa or Puerto Rican Salsa Classes
  • Hip Hop Dance Classes
  • Swing Classes
  • Flamenco Classes
  • Bachata Classes
  • Oriental Dance Classes
  • Ragga Dancehall Classes
  • Kizomba Classes, etc.

The tutor should obviously choose to teach a style that they’re experienced in or have qualifications in. Tutors should also consider teaching styles that aren’t as common, such as African dance or rock ‘n’ roll dancing, which tend to have less competitive markets.

Make the originality of your instruction your strength and learn to demonstrate themes and concepts in new and interesting ways in the classroom.

Choose the Level You Want to Teach

When students pick a private dance tutor, they expect quality lessons. A tutor who teaches children in secondary or middle school won’t do the same in their workshop as a tutor with a retiree who wants to learn to dance for a family function, for example.

Some teachers feel that they have to teach levels that they’re not comfortable with. Big mistake! Students are quick to notice when their tutor isn’t up to the task and will quickly look elsewhere for another private dance tutor. You have to make sure that your level is good enough to teach your students.

For beginners or a couple’s first dance, if you can’t demonstrate a complex routine, it might drive away even the most determined students.

There are three main types of dance tutor:

  • Self-taught tutors who have no formal training.
  • Students who are attending a performing art school or dance academy.
  • Qualified dance tutors.

The level taught (beginner, intermediate, advanced, or all levels) should match the tutors experience and training. Our advice is to start by teaching a popular dance so that the student and the tutor can get used to one another and have a bit of fun (why not try a bit of Dirty Dancing to ease the tension?).

Establish the Goals and Rules for Your Dance Lessons

In private tutorials, the customer isn’t always right!

If you want to be a professional tutor, you might need to lay down the law. You have every right to refuse to do group classes, couples’ dance classes, or children’s dance classes if you want. In fact, the students have to respect their tutor if they’re to have any hope of developing a good working relationship.

A tutor shouldn’t be expected to know absolutely everything about dancing. However, your teaching strategies should be adapted to the learning objectives you want to incorporate into the lesson. You should be able to illustrate and explain any concept included on your lesson plan.

Once you’ve created your profile on Superprof, you are welcome to establish the conditions under which you’re happy to teach so that you don’t waste your or your student’s time. Your conditions need to reflect the type of dance teacher you want to be.

Familiarise Yourself with Common Difficulties Encountered by Dance Tutors

Practise Dancing before Your First Tutorial

The best way to prepare a dance class (be it ballroom dancing, salsa, Viennese waltz, etc.) is to practise.

Which are the rarest types of dance lessons? There are plenty of unique styles that students are interested in learning. (Source: sasint)

Whether in a dancing club, academy, or in a flash mob, there are plenty of opportunities for tutors who feel that they might be a bit rusty. Going over the steps again and again in your head can sometimes just make you more nervous. Additionally, your student will probably be able to tell if you’re nervous, too.

Some tutors like to do a dry run of their tutorial with close friends of family members before teaching their new students. It can be useful getting constructive criticism and feedback.

You should also take a few minutes to warm up before each of your tutorials so that you don’t injure yourself. Professional dancers generally need to spend more time physically preparing themselves than beginners do.

Finally, you should listen to the music you’re going to use before your class so that it’s fresh in your mind once you start. Some students will ask for more information on certain musical styles. It never hurts to do a bit of studying before you teach.

While you’re not expected to know everything, it doesn’t hurt to go over some specialised vocabulary so that if the learner does ask about something, you won’t look foolish.

Being a Good Teacher

Qualified dance instructors tend to find teaching easier since that’s what they’re trained to do and they’re familiar with working in a classroom.

In addition to being an experienced dancers, dance tutors also need to have mastered the technical and artistic aspects of dancing so that they can effectively pass on this knowledge to their student and integrate a diverse range of teaching techniques exploring the art form. Those who’ve had formal dance training will probably be very familiar with almost all of this.

To become a good educator, the tutor should master the following:

  • Teaching dance
  • The history of dancing
  • Musical styles and/or musical composition
  • Teaching techniques
  • The philosophy of dance
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Choreography
  • Classroom management
  • Instructional techniques

Formal training comes with a lot of benefits for those who decide to become private dance tutors. However, there are also plenty of resources you can use in the classroom and websites with free lesson plans to help you. While you shouldn’t copy these lesson plans verbatim, you can use them as inspiration for your workshops or as research for new strategies you’re looking at including in your curriculum.

Set Up Regular Lessons with Your Students

There’s a good reason why so many dance students are interested in learning to dance with private tutors: classes that are tailored to them.

Whether you’re giving merengue classes, boogie classes, or teaching pasodoble, from the moment you introduce yourself, private lessons are much more intimate than group classes in a dance academy. You should pay particular attention to how the student moves so that you can provide them with instructional feedback and describe how to perfectly execute every dance technique as homework in preparation for their next class.

Tutors should expect to see their students regularly; either weekly or almost daily during an intensive dance course where they can learn about much more than just how to dance.

The tutor should also regularly give their students varied exercises to do both in class and between sessions so that the student has every opportunity to get better. If you’re a choreographer, you could give your student an ongoing assignment to create their own routine to learn about choreography.

Planning Your First Dance Classes

Work Out What Your Students Want

On Superprof, over 92% of students get the first hour of tutoring for free.

How much do beginners' private dance tutorials cost? Make sure you’re honest with your students and manage their expectations. Don’t promise international stardom to absolute beginners! (Source: Free-Photos)

After this taster lesson, students should know whether they want to learn to dance and can start getting to know their tutor and work out a course plan for their tutorials. The tutor should check what their student’s main goal is and what they expect to get out of their tutorials while making sure their tutorials are engaging. Don’t forget to check websites for free lesson plans if you’re struggling for inspiration.

The student may have several reasons for wanting private dance lessons:

  • Going from a beginner to an expert
  • The first dance at a wedding
  • A choreographed dance sequence for a hen party
  • Practising for a flash mob
  • A dance competition
  • An entrance exam for a conservatoire or dance academy
  • Preparing for an evening of dance
  • Putting on a dance show, etc.

Taster tutorials don’t necessarily have to focus on dancing, they can be just a friendly chat between the tutor and the student. To get themselves ready for the first session, tutors should get in touch with the student to ask them a few questions about their level and their experience.

If you have students who are also learning to dance at school, college, or university, you’ll need to make sure that your tutorials are aligned with the curricula and the dance education they’re receiving from these institutions. It’s silly to teach them something months before their school teacher tells them about it when you could help them with their current studies.

When choosing their tutor, students will often take suggestions from their friends, so make sure you have other students recommending you.

Choose Where to Teach Dance Classes

It can be a nightmare for tutors to choose the right place for their private dance lessons!

Some tutors and students use a dedicated room in their house. However, in most cases, the tutor will have to consider renting a studio for private dance lessons.

Don’t worry, though! The student will pay for renting the hall, either directly or you can factor it into your hourly rates (especially if tutoring if your primary source of income). There are plenty of places to rent rooms and tutors can rent private rooms or halls in leisure centres.

Get the Right Equipment

Before planning your first tutorial, you should make sure you have all the necessary equipment to provide quality dance instruction.

How much do couples' dance tutorials cost? Why not offer discounts for couples wanting to learn how to dance? (Source: witt_digital)

Most students won’t know what they need to bring to their first dance lesson. The tutor should evaluate their student’s goals and needs and then decide upon what equipment and resources they’ll need.

In preparation for your first lesson, you should look at getting your hands on the following equipment and resources:

  • Specialised shoes according to the style of dance (tap shoes, ballet slippers, trainers, etc.)
  • Clothes (tops, leggings, etc.)
  • Music (CDs, MP3s, etc.)
  • Specific equipment (pole-dancing poles, steps, etc.)
  • Teacher resources and learning materials (online dance lessons, dance applications, printable worksheets and lesson plan templates, etc.)

If the tutor decides to provide equipment and resources for teaching, they can increase their rates. Some students prefer to rent equipment rather than buying it themselves and will pay a premium rather than having to think about what equipment to get.

Don’t hesitate to offer your services as a dance tutor on Superprof! Most tutors on the platform offer a free lesson as a taster to those who want to learn to dance. You only have one opportunity to introduce yourself to your new student, so make sure you make it count!

Before you introduce yourself, try to anticipate what you student will want to learn to do and focus on the importance of having a dedicated tutor helping them to dance over being part of a group like they would be in a traditional dance school (especially if they’ve studied ballet before).

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