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Teaching Tips For The Recreational Dance Student


Teacher article


Dance Teachers

Most dance teachers really enjoy teaching the advanced classes. The sky's the limit! You can really push those students and have them reach outside of their ability and they will usually respond. You can be as creative as you want to and try just about anything. When it comes to the recreational student it gets a bit tricky. If you want to keep them interested and inspired you will need to keep challenging them but not to the point where you lose them. Most of these students sign up with no expectations other than that they want to have fun and get a little, emphasis on " little" amount of exercise! The parents think that they should not be pushed or challenged at all. How many times have we heard "My child just wants to have some fun and do something with her friends!"

We are always working with our dance teachers on ideas and class content for these students. As dance studio owners, these students are the life blood of our business. Without them, our bottom line could be in serious trouble. The key is to keep them interested so that they come back for more, over and over again. The fact that they are recreational tells you that they are mainly taking a dance class for fun. They don't really care about learning and all the discipline that will be gained. As dance teachers, we must try to educate these students so that they understand that learning in dance can be fun. As a matter of fact, what the students and parents don't understand is that the real fun begins when they start to develop a sound vocabulary of steps that can be used so that they can express themselves. I like to use the analogy that, if you play the piano and all you can ever do is play chop sticks pretty soon it will become very boring and not much fun. Dance is the same way. If all you can do is the same old steps over and over again it will get monotonous in a hurry. So we have to teach them how to learn in a fun way and in a way that doesn't really feel like learning.

The eight to twelve year olds will usually buy into it easier then the thirteen and up age bracket. Keep switching the content of the class around. If you are teaching ballet try not to spend too much time at the barre. If the content is too rigid and they are not moving very much they will not feel as if they are dancing. Also, once they start to understand how the class is constructed they will find it much easier to have fun. As I'm sure you know these classes typically have a large discrepancy between those that get it and those that do not. It is not unusual for half the class to be way ahead of the rest. If you find this is the case, you may need to slow the class down a bit to get the rest caught up. Of course, this is where the quick learners can start to get slightly bored. Have the better dancers help lead the groups or give them a few more difficult steps or combinations to work on while you work with the rest of the class.

Dance Teacher pointers to use when building a recreational class.

1. Give them a dance to do every week. You can build on it slowly. Start with 3 or 4 counts of 8 then build till you have 12 or more counts of 8. Then change gears and try another dance with a different tempo and style.

2. Teach them some standing technique each week. Start with something easy like passe 3 times and then step forward and reverse, from there you can build up to pirouettes, 3 step turns, pas de bourree and more.

3. Keep changing it up. Different tempos and styles will keep it fun and interesting. If you are doing jazz try a more lyrical style then go into a more up tempo style, then something a bit on the funky side. Teens have this illusion that they want to be a bit sexy. Sexy teen dances are not something I recommend. Try to make it more on the fun side.

4. Keep the order! Don't let them do what they want. They need and should have structure and discipline just like the advanced classes. Set the boundaries and make them follow your rules. Once they learn that self discipline is the key to their success both the students and their parents will love you for life!

5. For your year end show, find the style that suits them best and build a routine from that. Simple is always better and will help make your students shine. You should use steps and combos that they already know. Then you can build in new sequences and steps.

So there you have it. A few simple tips dance teachers can use for your recreational dancers.


Steve Sirico

Steve Sirico

Steve is co-founder of Dance Teacher Web the number one online resource for dance teachers and studio owners worldwide.He is Co-Director of the very successful D'Valda and Sirico Dance and Music Center in Fairfield, CT for the past thirty plus years. His students have gone on to very successful careers in dance, music and theater. Originally from Norwalk, Ct, Steve excelled in track and football. He attended the University of Tennessee at Martin on a sports scholarship. Deciding to switch and make his career in the world of dance, he studied initially with Mikki Williams and then in New York with Charles Kelley and Frank Hatchett. He has appeared in a number of theatre productions such as Damn Yankees, Guys and Dolls and Mame in New York and around the country and in industrials and television shows. He was contracted to appear as the lead dancer in the Valerie Peters Special a television show filmed in Tampa, Florida. After meeting Angela DValda during the filming they formed the Adagio act of DValda & Sirico appearing in theatres, clubs and on television shows such as David Letterman, Star Search and the Jerry Lewis Telethon. In 1982 they were contracted to Europe and appeared in a variety of shows in Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Italy before going to London, England where they appeared as Guest Artists for Wayne Sleep (formerly of the Royal Ballet) in his show Dash at the Dominium Theatre. Author of his Jazz Dance syllabus and co-author of a Partner syllabus both of which are used for teacher training by Dance Educators of America, He has also co-authored two books one for dance teachers and one for studio owners in the "It's Your Turn" Book series. He is available for master classes, private business consulting and teacher training development

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