I’ve been training to become a professional dancer, but aside from that I have been teaching students as young as six to fifteen. Teaching has given me a different perspective towards my own dancing and in fact I believe teaching has made me become a better dancer.
From teaching students, I see their weak and strong areas. As a teacher one of my goals is to help dancers strengthen their weaker areas in their technique and performance so it is up to par with their strengths. Now, I will tell you that it is a rollercoaster and it will not be an easy ride. Sometimes students will pick up the correction in a flash and other times for whatever reason they just can’t do it. This is where I would give them different ideas, imagery or ways of thinking about the correction, from there the dancer can try out the different methods and see what works best for them. It is all trial and error, and when the dancer clicks and get the “ooh I get it now!” moment it the most satisfying feeling in the world. This really helped me with finding my own way of correcting myself. It has made me more aware of my body. So for example, when I am off-balance I will stop and ask myself what the problem is, try to pin point it, and then use different methods of fixing the problem. Self-correction is such a useful tool for a dancer.
Teachers will come across different and unique dancers in aspects such as physical, emotional, mental and behavioural. There are some students who are really serious about pursuing dance as a career whilst others do it as a form of exercise or as a side hobby. You need to treat them all equally and not have what people call “favourites”. Everyone is in the class to learn and to better themselves. They won’t become any better if you only correct the serious or “good” ones in the class. Favouritism can bring the energy of the class down if you only focus on one or two people in the class. I know this as I have observed it from a student, teacher and spectators point of view and it is no fun at all.
Not every class is the same, some days the kids are bouncing off the walls filled with excitement, wanting to do grand allegro all lesson which is absolutely fantastic! But other days they are just really low, tired and they give the vibe that they don’t want to be there, which is really hard but you learn to not take it to heart and everyone has their ups and downs. From this I learnt to adjust and adapt to the students energy level for how they are feeling that day. This helped me with my training as I knew when I had endless energy and could push myself and when I needed to take it slow, calm down and focus on my body. If I were to push myself when I was low on energy I would surely injury myself.
When you are having a bad day and you feel like your teacher is picking on you by saying “It’s on count 6 not 7” or “do it again” a million times, you forget that they are doing this to make you the best dancer you can be. So please do not take any of their “mean or nasty” corrections to heart. They only want the best for you. When I was younger I would feel so emotional when my teacher corrected me. I felt like she was picking on me because I was failing. But really she was only doing this to make me look the best I can. The dance industry is a harsh world. You need tough skin to become successful. Be thankful for your teachers “not so pleasant” corrections, it will definitely help in the long run.
Teaching has really made me appreciate the persistence, hard work, care and love my teachers have put into helping me get to where I am now. But also, teaching students really inspires me to become a great role model and makes me strive even more for my goal of becoming a professional dancer. I’m thankful for experiencing both sides as it’s given me more motive and drive to become a better dancer and teacher.
Thanks for reading.