Students in class at Mark Morris Dance Center. Prince Lang, Courtesy Mark Morris Dance Group.

Recently, I asked fellow dancers on Facebook for a one-word self-assessment of the first class they ever taught. "Chaotic," "humbling" and "copycat" were just some of their responses. I was not surprised.

For my first-ever class, intermediate ballet for my fellow college students in 2011, I was armed with little more than my own experiences as a student. I certainly wasn't prepared for all the needs competing for my attention, nor equipped with strategies to differentiate my teaching approach for each student's learning style. I must have missed that day in technique class.

There is a pervasive idea that if you are a great dancer, you are automatically qualified to teach, whether you have training or experience in education practices or not. There is also an assumption that training to be a dance educator is only valuable if you're working with children—that you don't need it when teaching anyone over the age of 16.

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