Teaching Tips

Keys to Giving Your Adult Ballet Students What They Need

Getty Images

Adult ballet students come from all kinds of different places—and they attend your class for all kinds of different reasons. Understanding who your student is and what they want is key in making sure you give the kind of feedback that will resonate with them and help them get what they need out of your class. Achieving this type of connection makes for a happy student and for a more fulfilling student/teacher relationship overall.

Some students will likely come to work strictly on technique, while others may only want to enjoy the feeling of dancing while getting some exercise. Some may want all of that, or will have other reasons for coming. If you can get a feel for why an adult ballet student is there, it can be very helpful in terms of how you interact with them throughout class. It will also assist you in tailoring the specific types of corrections you give to develop them as a dancer.

Giving thoughtful feedback is a developed skill, and there are a number of different ways to scout out the reasons your adult students have enrolled in class. They're not particularly difficult, but they will take a bit of forethought, time and effort on your part. Pick the ones that works best for you:

  • Try out an introduction—when a new student comes in, have them introduce themselves to the class and share the reasons they decided to join with the other students.
  • Go for the direct ask—you can also simply ask a student what they would like to get out of the experience prior to (or after) class.
  • Pick up the phone—it can be helpful to touch base with an adult student by phone prior to the first day of class. This gives you the chance to have a little one-on-one time to find out more about them and their goals.
  • Pay attention to your corrections—when you give an adult ballet student a correction, make a mental note of how they respond to it. This can help clue you in on what things they value and those they aren't as interested in focusing on during class.

Naturally you will still want to make sure you are giving your adult students the type of feedback that will improve their dancing and prevent any injury or bad habits that can result from improper technique. That said, if you can determine each adult student's individual reasons for joining your class, it will allow you to better tailor their experience, and help them achieve their personal dance-related goals.

Teachers Trending
Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo courtesy Dance With Me

Listening to Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy riff together makes it crystal-clear why each has mastered the art of partnering in the ballroom—they've long been doing this dance in real life as brothers and business partners.

Along with their "Dancing with the Stars" pedigree (and a combined three mirror-ball trophies between them), Maks and Val (and their father, Sasha) also run Dance With Me, a dance company hosting six ProAm Dancesport competitions annually and running 14 brick-and-mortar studio locations across the U.S.

Last year, the pair launched an online component, Dance & Co. The online video platform offers beginner through advanced instruction in not only ballroom but an array of other styles, as well as dance fitness classes from HIIT to yoga to strength training. "DWTS" fans will recognize such familiar faces as Peta Murgatroyd, Jenna Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Emma Slater, along with Maks and Val themselves.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

In the spring of 2012, Barry Kerollis was abruptly forced into treating his career as a small business. Having just moved cross-country to join BalletX, he got injured and was soon let go.

"I'd only ever danced with big companies before," the now-freelance dance-teacher-choreographer-podcaster recalls. "That desperation factor drove me to approach freelancing with a business model and a business plan."

As Kerollis acknowledges, getting the business of you off the ground ("you" as a freelance dance educator, that is) can be filled with unexpected challenges—even for the most seasoned of gigging dancers. But becoming your own CEO can make your work–life balance more sustainable, help you make more money, keep you organized, and get potential employers to offer you more respect and improved working conditions. Here's how to get smart now about branding, finances and other crucial ways to tell the dance world that you mean business.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Oleson

American dance educator Shannon Oleson was teaching recreational ballet and street-dance classes in London when the pandemic hit. As she watched many of her fellow U.S. friends pack up and return home from their international adventures, she made the difficult choice to stick with her students (as well as her own training—she was midway through her MFA at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

Despite shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, she was able to maintain a teaching schedule that kept her working with her dancers through Zoom, as well as lead some private, in-home acro classes following government guidelines. But keeping rec students interested in the face of pandemic fatigue hasn't been easy.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.