Teaching Tips

10 Surprisingly Difficult Things to Teach

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Teaching dance is (in our relatively biased opinion) one of the most gratifying careers out there—but that doesn't mean it's easy. Oh, no—in fact, there are more than a few steps that are so difficult to teach, they can make you want to pull your hair out! Of course, we're preaching to the choir here—you guys know EXACTLY what we are talking about.

Recently, we reached out on social media to hear what kinds of things you have found surprisingly challenging to teach, and the result was fascinating. Across genres, there seem to be things that trip up everyone!

Check out 10 of the tricky things the dance-teaching community had to share below, and let us know if you agree with them in our comments!


1. Lefts and rights

"Teaching dancers the difference between their left limbs and directions vs. their right limbs and directions is one of the more exhausting, time-consuming, yet necessary things about teaching littles."

—Every dance teacher ever


2. Six steps

"Lately, I've found that my students are really struggling with six-step preps for pirouettes. The weight shifting and change of direction when a back pas de bourrée is added into the mix has been proving quite a challenge for many."

—Emily Bufferd


3. Wings

"I start off with teaching [wings] sitting down to get the ankle movement and the sounds, and then move on to one foot at the barre. I always feel like kids won't get them 'til they accidentally do it, and then they know how...but before that, it's always a struggle!"

—Brooke Allen-Phares


4. Attitude derrière

"Attitude derrière is a struggle. I try to help students figure out how much turnout is required, proper alignment of the knee, thigh and foot, how wide the angle needs to be, and where it should end. These are all details we discuss, but it seems like a long and difficult process for many."

—Hope Daniel


5. Mastering beats in petit allégro

"I find that my younger students (and even my older ones sometimes, too) struggle with mastering beats in petit allégro. They kick or swim their legs front and back instead of getting a good side-to-side beating in the inner thighs."

—Chloe Stacey


6. Kick ball-change and pony steps

"I swear kids are either born doing it or they never figure it out. There is no in between, lol."

—Chelsea-McCall Lujan


7. Contractions

"It's hard for young dancers especially to hone in to that head-tail connection that is so important in modern dance (and other styles). The dancers usually think they are contracting when they actually aren't."

—Linnae Corgan


8. Pelvic tilt for turnout and leg raises

It's so anatomy-specific to each student.

—Stacey Ann


9. Tendu devant

"A tendu devant!!! The pre-ballet and pre-primary ballet students want to put weight on the front foot, and it ends up looking like a crooked fourth position with one bent knee."

—Jenna Larkin


10. Flaps

"Proper flaps, mind you, with proper tone and relaxed technique. Not the brush...no forward motion, and no scraped sounds. It's my white whale."

—Scott Hynes

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