As a child growing up wanting to be a dance teacher, you envisioned a life of dancing all day in your own dance studio. Now as a wise and learned adult, you realise nothing could have been further from the truth! Ironically, the teaching side of the job is actually only a small part of the role you do on a everyday basis. Below is my list of the 15 other jobs of a dance teacher. Let me know if you agree!
As a teacher, you have the pleasure of meeting a multitude of different people, all with their own reasons for starting dance classes. For some, it is just the desire to learn to dance, but for others, their reasons are much more personal. Whether it is to help deal with a bereavement, get over a relationship breakdown or even combating loneliness, you realise that dancing is the method they are using to deal with an issue in their private lives. Indeed, some of my proudest moments as a dance teacher have been where pupils have said that dancing has improved their mental health to a point that they no longer need tablets, or have even found love/companion within the dance class. It is important to remember that every pupil is there for their own reasons and your job is to help them fulfill whatever their ambition is.
Now I know what you are thinking; most jobs include an element of driving and this is true. However, whether ferrying a pupil to a dance class or a fellow adjudicator to a dance competition, you must be able to show your calm aptitude at being stuck behind a Sunday driver doing 20mph in a 30mph zone, whilst suppressing your inner rage toward them.
This is where the 'A' in GCSE Maths comes in handy. As a child, you naively believed your teachers danced all day and existed on thin air. So whether it is calculating your weekly accounts, paying invoices or asking for the receipt on the bacon butty you purchased for your tax returns in January, you can thank your old Maths teacher for the invaluable knowledge of being able to calculate the volume of a circle...
4. Social Media Manager
This is where a dance teacher spends most of their time! This can be spent posting statuses on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, scheduling a post for the future, messaging pupils at 11pm or finding ideas for new choreography, outfits, make-up and hair. Every dance teacher will have had the following conversation at some point:
Friend: 'Why you are always on your phone! What are you doing?'
Friend: 'But you are on Facebook!?'
Every dance teacher who hires a hall will sympathise with this one! You arrive 15 minutes early to your lesson to give yourself time to change, set up music and warm up. However, your heart sinks when you see the remnants of last nights 18th birthday party. Sticky patches all over the floor from spilled alcohol, confetti and stray balloons all over the walls and what appears to be a half eaten sausage roll in the corner. Time to roll up those sleeves and get the mop and bucket out!
6. Website Designer
Pupil - 'I really like your website, who designed it?'
Me - 'Me.'
A good website is key to every dance school. Not only can you keep current pupils up to date on latest news, classes and events, you are also showing prospective pupils the benefits of your school. So if you think yourself as a bit of a technophobe, you better book yourself onto the next computer course!
7. Motivational Speaker
The group class has ended and your pupils are looking exasperated at a particularly difficult Foxtrot lesson. Time to channel your inner Churchill! Let them know that it is a difficult dance, that it takes time and patience to perfect and that it took you yourself, a long time to master. Remind them that to have even learnt the full routine in just a few weeks is a great achievement and with more practice, they will crack it. If you want added dramatic effect, finish with something like this:
'I had a dream, a dream of a class who can Foxtrot by next week. Ask not, what Foxtrot can do for you, but what you can do for Foxtrot. While it may only be one small feather step for a man, you will take one giant leap next Thursday. Keep practicing on the beaches, the landing grounds and even in the air. We shall never surrender! See you all next week folks.'
8. Child Minder
As a dance teacher for children, you are not only being entrusted to teach them how to dance, but also to keep them safe and protected for a few hours. Class ends, parents come to pick up the children and then you have the sanctity of peace and quiet until your adult classes a few hours later. However, you turn around and notice there is one child still remaining.
Child - 'Mummy can't pick me up for another hour, am I ok to stay here?'
Me - '.......why not. Tell you what, let's eat chocolate and you can teach me that latest Fortnite dance you have been doing, instead of practicing your Samba bounce action.'
9. Events Manager
It is a great joy when a pupil says they had a wonderful time whilst at your dance event, especially as numerous hours have gone into planning and executing the evening! Every event is unique and their are so many aspects that need to be organised. It could be you have choreographed every number in your annual dance show, organised all the music playlists, driven around half the county picking up party decorations, lights and speakers, set up and cleared the venue or even been a barman!
Now and then, you are reminded that you used to be a dancer yourself and sometimes, even perhaps a good one! It is important to always keep yourself in good shape and in practice, for the off chance that you are needed to perform at Gladys' 90th birthday party, a charity event, or even on one occasion for myself personally...in a shop window!
Come rain, shine, sleet or snow, those leaflets advertising new classes and events are not going to post themselves! Handy tip - always tap the letterbox first before putting your fingers through. This alerts any angry dogs to the fact you are there and that your fingers are not their lunch.
12. Clothes Designer
Whether it's designing your own branded t-shirts, hoodies and jackets, or advising a pupil on their next dance outfit, having a keen eye on the fashion of the day is always helpful!
It's dance competition day and your pupil has decided to arrive with their hair unsuitable for a competition. Action stations people! I need 2 tubs of gel, 4 combs, 8 cans of hairspray and if I haven't got a sausage bap with red sauce within the next 10 minutes I'm going to scream!
As a dance teacher, you know that your pupils are not only there to learn to dance, but to also forget any troubles they may have at home or work for a few hours. Make the lessons enjoyable, tell them of that time when a fellow competitors wig flew off mid-Jive, or make a deliberate mistake, to give your pupils the enjoyment of catching you out!
Finally number 15 is of course, being your own secretary. Whether it is keeping your diary up to date, responding to emails or planning future classes, this is one of the most important jobs as a dance teacher. The great thing about being your own secretary, is you can use an alias for awkward emails/calls!
Email - 'Hi, I'm just chasing up the invoice that should have been paid 3 days ago, could I arrange a call with the owner as soon as possible please?'
Me - 'Good Afternoon, thank you for your email. He is currently indisposed, but I will chase him up as soon as possible and get back you when I have touched based with him. Kind Regards, Trevor, Secretary.'