Ask the Experts: Where Do I Find Good Replacement Dance Teachers?

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Q: Are there good sources to find replacement dance teachers? When I go through standard employment services, I get people who are not properly trained or lack experience.


A: Building a team of qualified teachers for all levels is ongoing work. Search for dance teacher groups on Facebook in your geographical location, since they often attract a variety of studios and teachers looking to network. We post to a Facebook group near us regularly looking for guest artists, substitute teachers, choreographers and faculty. We have also had success posting advertisements to a job site called Indeed. By paying a $5 per day fee for two weeks, we were able to boost our ad, and we got an excellent response from a wide variety of talent in varying locations. Many of the potential employees were willing to travel up to an hour to teach for us. We included specific details: exact days, times, levels of students and pay rate. One big factor in attracting teachers is pay: It's wise to set a competitive pay scale that meets or exceeds their requirements.

You might also connect with a local college and/or university that offers a dance major or minor. Schools will often have a current-student or alumni Facebook page where you can post your teacher opening.

For areas where it is not as easy to find teachers, many studios build their faculty from within by inviting advanced students to learn through a studio-directed teacher-training curriculum. We like to stay connected with our studio alumni as some go on to major/minor in dance, to perform professionally or just stay active by dancing as adults. You may be able to train teachers to provide preschool, recreational and/or advanced tracks by sending them to an in-person or online event.

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
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After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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