A dance teacher leads dance classes for groups of people or individuals that are designed to teach participants different dancing techniques. Due to the physically demanding nature of dancing, many professional dances retire in their late 20s or early 30s but put their skills to use by finding employment as a dance teacher. Schools, universities, and production companies often hire full time dance teachers, but many dance teachers are self-employed.
Most dancers begin dance classes at a very young age and, over the course of many years, learn a variety of different dancing styles. Performing Arts schools and some colleges offer degree programs in dance. Some employers prefer to hire dance teachers with a dance degree, but generally someone with an extensive background in dance can work as a dance teacher with or without a degree.
Dance classes are often physically demanding, so a typical dance teacher needs to have a basic knowledge of fitness training in order to lead class participants through warm up exercises. Some dance teachers primarily work with children, in which case a background in school teaching or childcare often proves useful. Classes designed for adults can attract participants of all ages, so a dance teacher has to have the ability to adapt the program to accommodate both skilled dancers and people with limited mobility. Self-employed teachers usually charge a per participant fee, whereas teachers who work for schools and colleges are either contracted or salaried employees who are paid regardless of class attendance levels.
Many teachers focus their classes on a particular style of dancing such as ballet, tap, or ballroom. In order to effectively teach students new dances and moves, teachers often to have to demonstrate dances before the class. Younger and more agile people tend to teach classes involving more physically challenging types of dance, while older teachers often focus more on slower and less physical dancing styles. Self-employed teachers who work with clients one-on-one are expected to have a diverse knowledge of dance techniques so that they can suitably prepare students for auditions for dance roles requiring a variety of different skills.
Choreographers are dance teachers who develop new dance routines and train dancers to perform in stage shows and recitals. Directors of stage plays work closely with choreographers to develop dance moves that suit the themes of a particular play or musical. Major ballet companies employ several dance teachers, some of whom train individual dancers while others work as choreographers and help to coordinate dance performances.