Dance Teacher Training Options

Benna Crawford
Ballerinas dancing with teacher

Whether you've been to the heights as a performer and you're ready for the second act of your dance career or you just prefer teaching to performing, there are plenty of programs available in a variety of disciplines. Dance teacher training and certification can help you to realize your goals and enhance your value as a seasoned professional educator.

Ballet Teacher Programs

Ballet is the core program for the majority of dance studios, and your own years of training are the foundation for your classes and private instruction. There are numerous teacher training programs offered by professional companies and in distinct styles of ballet. In addition to researching local schools and associations, try one of these options.

American Ballet Theatre

American Ballet Theatre (ABT) offers three levels of certification at different venues across the U.S. that must be completed sequentially. Pre-primary level is a nine-day course that certifies you to teach ballet to children ages three and up. Subsequent levels are six days each and offer certification for intermediate and advanced students, pre-professional students (ages 14 and up), and partnering. Tuition for individual sessions begins at about $1,500 plus a materials fee, and may vary based on location and level offered.

Classically trained ballerina Deb Young reviewed her participation in the program as director of the Knoxville Ballet School: "There is so much wisdom to be gained from attending the intensives that can be used in any ballet classroom environment, the training is easily worth the time, money, and effort it demands of you."

Bolshoi Ballet Academy

The Russian American Foundation/Bolshoi Ballet Academy (RAF/BBA) offers week-long teacher certification programs in the summer in New York City, built around the 240-year-old Russian ballet's Vaganova method. Teacher trainees attend workshops, lectures, master classes and independent tutorials all presented in Russian with English translation. Attendees are tested on the philosophical and academic material at the end of the week, observe ongoing demonstration of teaching methods using student dancers, and study the precise execution of complex movements and combinations, as well as virtuoso techniques at the most advanced level.

You must enroll in the program in Level A (junior), B (intermediate) or C (advanced), and complete an application process before acceptance. Tuition is just under $2,000. At the completion of each level, successful participants receive an official Bolshoi Ballet Academy Teaching Certificate for that level.

College Certification

Another route for certification is a university degree in dance pedagogy. Colleges offer degrees in dance education at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Dance Magazine's College Guide lists hundreds of academic programs for dance majors, many of them ballet-focused.

New York University is one graduate program that offers this, in partnership with American Ballet Theatre. Acceptance into the graduate program of NYU is the prerequisite and dance teacher majors must audition as well as qualify academically for the program. Students graduate with a Master of Arts degree in Teaching Dance in the Professions with a concentration in ABT Ballet Pedagogy. It's a full-time schedule that takes place over three semesters. Basic tuition and fees (not including housing) for each 12-credit semester in NYU's graduate school is just over $20,000 as of 2016.

Jazz Teacher Training

Look for jazz intensive teacher training to pick up classroom and studio management tips and a wide variety of styles. The University of Nevada Las Vegas offers Dance Teacher University, levels 1 and 2, with annual four-day certification conferences that cover a range of studio dance styles but feature specialized jazz and lyrical jazz syllabi.

The training includes an emphasis on across-the-floor and center combinations, isolations, stretching, strengthening and warm-up material, a vocabulary of jazz steps, and practice choreographing linked steps into combos and student dances. Tuition, not including travel and lodging, is about $900.

Modern Dance

The Graham Method is one of the most revered styles of modern dance and the Teacher Training Program at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance is as intense as the legendary choreographer and performer herself. Graham training is a full-time, year-long program consisting of 30 credit hours. It's open to professional-level dancers with advanced skills who are preparing for a career teaching modern dance.

During the first semester, students focus on methodology, Graham Technique, anatomy and teaching styles. Second semester work goes deeper into Graham Technique and adds advanced repertory and a teaching practicum. You must have studied at the Martha Graham School or completed the six-week Summer Intensive Course at the school before applying to the teaching program. Academic year tuition at the New York program is around $8,500.

Einat Iosefzon, a teacher who completed the Graham teacher training, sums up the experience: "You're directed by some of the most important and successful people in the contemporary dance world. With Graham, the magic onstage comes from the class and the studio, and that is one of the most difficult things to learn as a teacher - how to create the magic."

Partner and Social Dance

Couple Dancing Together

The National Dance Teachers Association of America (NDTA) is a non-profit organization featuring certification in ballroom, Latin, smooth, rhythm, and theater arts, and other types of partner or social dances. With the approval of the National Dance Council of America (the USA's official governing council of dance and dancesport), NDTA offers Associate, Masters or Fellow certifications at Bronze, Silver and Gold levels.

Members take exams to become certified in up to five dances per discipline, for example cha cha, samba, rumba, paso doble, and jive for International Latin dance. The exam fee per discipline is about $75 and exams last from 1.5 to 2.5 hours. You must be a member of NDTA to apply for certification and, depending on exams offered in your area, you may be responsible for examiner travel expenses and fees of up to $85 per hour, plus the rental fee for an exam studio.

Tap Dance Certification

The American Tap Dance Foundation (ATDF) offers a Tap Teacher Training Certificate Program that covers technique, pedagogy, history of tap, Copasetic Canon repertory, composition and improvisation, and jazz music concepts. The program focuses on technique for teaching rhythm tap to children, teens and adults and includes swing and bebop jazz.

Levels 1 and 2 require attendance at a week-long intensive program in New York City, six months of mentored independent work in your home community, and digital submission of certification materials for evaluation. Each level, through levels 3 and 4, takes you deeper into artistry and teaching skills and must be taken sequentially. Level 1 tuition in is about $1,500 and the level 2 fee is around $900. ATDF also offers a Pre-Tap and Early Learners Training and Certificate in teaching creative movement in preparation for tap to children ages 3 1/2 and up.

ATDF artistic director Tony Waag explains the comprehensive curriculum of the training program to Dance Teacher magazine: "We're approaching it methodically and with a lot of thought behind it...we really see the value of passing on this information and making sure that it's passed on correctly."

Street Dance

Street dance - hip-hop in all its varied permutations - is typically learned informally and in clubs. Really sought-after hip-hop dancers are often tapped to teach classes in urban studios. Work as a back-up tour dancer or in commercials and music videos can be all the credentials you need to land a teaching gig. But tutters, animators and break dancers can beef up their resumes with a multi-grade, multi-year comprehensive training program through Dance Masters of America (DMA) that takes you through sequential summer intensives - Grades I through IV - that must be completed within seven years.

Fees for the week-long intensives range from about $400 to $475 with an additional fee of $25 for the hip-hop intensive. Lodging, on the campus of SUNY Buffalo, is extra as are various fees for add-ons and special events. The DMA Teacher Training School program awards a diploma and classes may be applied toward college credit. The DMA training is not exclusively hip-hop. It's based on the range of ballet, jazz, tap, theater and modern disciplines with focused work in hip-hop, acrobatics, ballroom and other dance forms.

Keeping Skills Updated

Dance teacher helping student

Enhance your value to your studio and stay ahead of the curve with regular workshops and professional training to update and expand your skills. Dance Teacher magazine regularly publishes articles about teacher training opportunities and best practices for dance studios. These two options are always valuable as well.

Dance Teachers Summit

Dance Teachers Summit, an intensive three-day conference held on two coasts, mixes business and marketing advice with cutting edge choreography. Master teachers conduct movement classes to advance and inspire you with tips ranging from preparing young dancers for competition to adding Hamilton-style hip-hop to your teens' class. Summit tuition for New York or Los Angeles is around $500, with extra fees for add-on events.

Broadway Dance Center

The PULSE/ Broadway Dance Center's annual three-day teacher workshops put you in class with famous guest teachers and in seminars with experts in subjects such as setting up recitals and injury prevention. Classes cover all dance styles from tap to jazz to contemporary ballet to hip-hop, musical theater, Latin dance and commercial work. Workshop fees are about $400 with an add-on Pulse intensive professional class upgrade of about $200 for registered workshop participants.

Rules for Schools

Different states require specific certifications for teaching in public schools. Dance is no different than academic subjects when it comes to qualifying. Check the state educator regulations for the region and class level in which you want to teach to find out how to prepare for individual state certification.

Dance Teacher Training Options