The dance lesson is a place where students of all ages and ability levels come together to learn the art of dance. The dance teacher provides information, confidence and encouragement to their students, while fostering an attitude of nonjudgmentalness, respect and safety in the classroom. Dancers are often challenged physically, socially and emotionally in the classroom, so the dance teacher must be prepared to deal with any problems that may arise.
The way a dance teacher structures the class and how she presents the material to her students can have a significant impact on students’ understanding of the dance technique. It is important that teachers allow time for questioning and exploration of the set material, encouraging not merely inquiry about form (i.e., which leg to pirouette on) but also critical and conceptual questions about the material. This approach teaches dancers to look at the movement from a more abstract perspective, and increases their confidence when approaching new material.
Most classes have a similar format – an opening ritual and thorough warm-up, the introduction of new concepts and skills, practice drills and memorization work, and the working on a choreographed dance piece. Teachers need to decide how much detail they want to convey in the classroom, and what level of complexity is appropriate for their students.
It is important for dancers to be aware of their movement limitations, so a teacher should not push them out of their comfort zone. This might mean lowering the level of difficulty of the dance steps, changing the speed of the music, or simplifying memorization tasks.