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What would any dancer be without his dance teachers?

Of course, he wouldn’t be a dancer at all. Not in any formal sense, anyway. Dancers are captivated, shaped, nurtured, and released into the dance world by dance teachers. And top dancers often have superb dance teachers to thank for their success.

A great dance teacher…

1. Really loves dance.
The best dance teachers breathe dance in and out like oxygen. Dance is not the only thing in the teacher’s life but it is safe to say she immerses herself in dance and is compelled to share this fascination with others.

2. Loves and honors teaching.
Beyond the compulsion to share what they love with others, great dance teachers are enthralled with the art and act of teaching. They revere the craft and their role as a teacher. Because of this, a great teacher keeps working and learning to develop his teaching skills and is dedicated to providing the highest quality experience to his students.

3. Has been there and keeps going.
A great dance teacher knows and remembers what it’s like to be a student. She’s developed and mastered the skills she is passing on to you and yet, doesn’t stop there. She is not content to rest on her knowledge.

4. Supports you.
Great dance teachers are sensitive to the needs of each dance student, regardless of ability or innate talent, and works to find the best way to encourage each pupil. A great dance teacher believes in you, encourages you, cheers your successes, and helps you understand and correct your mistakes.

5. Motivates you.
Support from a dance teacher often involves pushing and pulling. A great teacher challenges you and inspires you. One way or another, he will find a way to lead you to your full potential.

6. Respects you.
A terrific teacher is not just sensitive to your needs but appreciates your individuality and humanity. While she may be beyond you in knowledge of dance, she shows deep consideration for your feelings, your thoughts, your body, and your progress. She expects you to progress and do your best, and resists giving up on you even when you fail to meet those expectations. You might also say she loves students as much as she loves dance and teaching.

7. Shows empathy.
It is possible to learn from negative or discouraging teachers, but a great teacher inspires because he cares. It doesn’t mean he’s a push-over. It means he responds to his students with understanding and, when appropriate, compassion. He reaches people where they are, not where he wants them to be.

8. Adapts and is flexible.
Great teachers are ready and willing to go off-track to nurture your train of thought. They empower students by teaching them to think and sometimes direct the learning. A great teacher knows when she’s lost her students and will always try new ways to help them recover, discover, and understand.

9. Cultivates and cares about your health.
Your physical and mental health are crucial to your success as a dancer. A fantastic dance teacher will keep up with the latest and best information on safe teaching practices. He will also stop at nothing to keep the classroom a safe space to try, fail, and growth.

10. Leads a process of discovery.
All dance teachers should have a method to their madness – usually one that is born of trial and experience. Good teachers study and strive to create a curriculum or process to guide students with logical standards, goals and objectives. The best teachers create space in that process for questions, exploration, and problem-solving. They want you to be a thinking and self-motivated dancer.

11. Speaks to every student.
It is a special gift of dance teachers to be able to translate movement concepts into a language that makes sense to students. A great dance teacher communicates concepts over and over in multiple ways until everyone understands. It is worth it to him to attempt to reach every student because he feels every dance student is worthy of his best.
12. Creates community.
The best dance teachers are like planets with their own atmosphere. The students gravitating around such teachers become part of a unique culture that seeks to bring out the best in everyone breathing the same air. A teacher who creates such a community teaches more than just dance. She instructs students to live as better people.

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