Effective dance teaching methods

In This Article

Use effective and safe teaching methods


  • the type of class (community, social, school, studio, professional etc)
  • participants' age, stage and needs
  • the dance style/genre
  • class size and venue.

Lesson planning


  • the aim of class or teaching program
  • pre-testing for prior knowledge/understanding
  • skill levels and age
  • logical, suitable and safe progression beginning with warm-up and stretching
  • students’ emotional, physical and intellectual development and/or limitations
  • a graduated workload, i.e. frequency, intensity, duration and type of dance.

Create a positive learning/teaching environment

Make sure that the:

  • teaching is supportive, encouraging and non-threatening
  • goals are clearly stated
  • students respect the rights of others to be taught and to learn
  • students are given equal opportunities to learn and develop their dance skills
  • teachers encourage students to accept reasonable challenges and to take risks with teacher support
  • students support each other in challenging or risk-taking activity
  • cultural, gender and age differences and different physical and learning abilities are reflected in fair and inclusive teaching/learning practices.

Demonstrate positive communication skills

  • Discuss your goals and expectations of a class, program or course.
  • Give clear instructions, explanations and demonstrations in verbal, non-verbal, audiovisual and written forms.
  • Create a safe, friendly and positive atmosphere.
  • Adapt your language to suit the age and experience of students
  • Give regular verbal feedback that respects students and helps them develop as independent learners.
  • Help students to reflect, evaluate and share knowledge.

Be a positive role model

  • Show your love for dance with energy and enthusiasm.
  • Set clear goals and expectations.
  • Use language that shows respect for students and staff.
  • Teach safe dance principles; non-judgmental attitudes; positive body image; punctuality, planning and preparation.

Pedagogy—develop and use dance teaching practices

Level 1

  • Respect students’ personal space.
  • Encourage a healthy awareness and understanding of the physical nature of dance.
  • Use verbal explanations and show correct stance/movement.
  • Before any physical contact, tell the student why and how contact is needed.
  • Show different approaches to a task, movement or problem solving exercise.
  • Allow exploratory learning by encouraging students to talk about ideas and processes.
  • Use positive approaches that give students information, confidence, encouragement and a willingness and desire to practice and improve their dance skills.
  • Be sensitive to social, economic and cultural contexts, expectations, language and themes.

Level 2

  • Recognise and be sensitive to the external lives/pressures that students (particularly adolescents) are experiencing.
  • Monitor issues that relate to dance training and talk with a student about concerning symptoms.
  • If needed, discuss issues with colleagues, parents and carers, while being sensitive to a student’s right to privacy.
  • Be aware and adhere to teacher responsibility to Mandatory Reporting regulations (check your state legislation).
  • Refer students and parents/carers to other dance and health professionals with sensitivity.
  • Use terminology and explanations which are understood by students.
  • Include assessment as an informal or formal gauge of progress.
  • Place dance as an art form in its historical, social and cultural contexts according to the style taught, and the training level.
  • Help students learn to relate dance practice and theory.
  • Give students learning opportunities which develop and recognise different learning styles.
  • Use various teaching resources and modes of learning.

Self-development and career development

Level 1

  • Invite and welcome honest feedback from parents, students and colleagues.
  • Make time to talk with students, course leaders, school or institution leaders and parents or carers about issues affecting individual students, classes or groups.
  • Find opportunities for learning and development.
  • Find opportunities for learning and certification as a dance educator.
  • Learn about lifelong learning practices.

Professional development

Maintain knowledge and expertise in your chosen genre and style of dance; develop a broad knowledge of dance; enrich your qualifications.

Level 1

  • Attend performances and read dance-related material.
  • Develop your awareness and knowledge of different stage crafts.
  • Enroll in teaching, stage craft, health, fitness and business management courses.
  • Encourage employed staff to do professional development.

Level 2

  • Make sure your professional knowledge is current and qualifications are upgraded through a teaching or syllabus organisation.
  • Attend professional development workshops or short courses.
  • Maintain or subscribe to a professional journal or library.

Encourage self-expression and creativity

Level 1

  • Include regular times for students to use imagination, expressive skills and creativity.
  • Teach students the elements of composition using the relevant style or genre.
  • Use different creative stimuli and models of self expression.
  • Use a developmental approach (creative scaffolding) to build creative skills along with technique development.
  • Include time to develop performance skills.
  • Give students access to other teachers or artists (workshops, summer schools and special events) to stimulate creativity through new ways of thinking about dance.
  • Recognise the subjective nature of creativity.

Level 2

  • Help students develop independence, problem-solving and decision-making skills.
  • Recognise individual learning styles and offer choices so each student has practice with problem solving and decision-making.
  • Make sure that programs/curriculum let students choose class tasks, projects or electives that allow creative growth.
  • Use technical training as a tool for expressive development and creative growth.
  • Give students tools to assess their expressive and creative development.
  • Give students opportunities and support their interest in dance experiences beyond their educational setting
  • Encourage use, review and criticism of dance-related material
  • Facilitate or encourage attendance at rehearsals, performances, exhibitions and performances in dance and other art forms
  • Support students to audition for events or performances or take part in activities/workshops where they can work with other teachers, choreographers or directors to enhance their
  • Understanding of creative processes, performance and professional expectations.

Use assessment and reporting procedures

Note: There are teaching situations such as community and recreational dance instruction which do not require or expect formal assessment and reporting.

Assess the work of students against criteria

Level 1

  • Give students regular verbal or written feedback that includes praise and identifies areas for improvement.
  • Let students discuss and receive feedback about work in development (technique, creative work and theory).
  • Give progress reports to parents and students.
  • Before assessment, make sure students understand the assessment measures.
  • Use external standards or assessors to moderate your assessment process.
  • Deal privately with sensitive assessment and achievement issues.

Give parents and students an accurate assessment of dance potential

Level 2

  • Give regular verbal and written descriptive assessment (which includes marks or grades), and some independent assessment.
  • Give honest opinions about a dancer’s potential or readiness to pass an exam or succeed in an audition.
  • Use criterion-based assessment which can be complemented by subjective opinions, references and statements.

Provide vocational support for training and careers

Level 2

  • Encourage students to complete their school education and to develop interests both within and outside dance.
  • Give students resources, structures, educational counselling that helps them complete Year 12 and receive university admission ranking.
  • Encourage students to gain experience in dance and theatre related work.
  • Give students access to professional career counselling.
  • Give students work, career and transition planning tools.