Teaching Salsa Dance Classes

Interview

What does your dance instructor job entail?

I give salsa dance lessons at a variety of venues, and I often end up giving classes all day long. I teach some of my classes at dance studios around the area, and I often teach at night, too, giving salsa lessons in nightclubs in the early part of the evening before the music starts. I give private lessons when I can, often several hours each day, and I compete regularly as well.

What kind of education and/or special training is needed? Does it help to attend a university and earn a dance degree?

I don’t have a degree in dance, but I have been a salsa dancer for a very long time. I began training in my teens, and then went on to perform and dance in competitions for many years. I had already been dancing for more than twelve years before I started teaching, so I guess that would qualify as special training. For me, it was a natural choice. I had already put in the time perfecting my technique and my knowledge, so it was easy to share all of that with others. I enjoy people and I have a lot of energy.

What is the job outlook for the dance industry and dance instructor jobs?

Well, salsa dancing is really popular in my area. There are a lot of dance studios that offer lessons, and a lot of local nightclubs have begun to offer lessons as well. That’s great news for instructors. I live in San Francisco, where there is a very large population, and I’m willing to travel a bit, too, so I look for teaching opportunities all over my area.

What is your favorite aspect of your dance instructor job?

My favorite aspect of my job is that I get paid to share something I love doing, and that I am passionate about.

I also enjoy working with people, and I get to meet lots of them!

What is your least favorite aspect of your position as a dance instructor?

My least favorite aspect of my job is that sometimes my days are extremely long. I begin teaching in the mornings, around ten, and sometimes I don’t get finished until ten o’clock at night. I may have private lessons booked back-to-back all through the middle of the day. I have to make sure to get enough rest and keep my energy level high, because I need to stay healthy to do my job. I carry snacks and water with me everywhere, and I am often on the go. I’ll teach all day and then travel to a nightclub and do my hair and makeup and get changed in the bathroom. Those are some of my less glorious moments.

What advice would you give someone who wishes to become a dance instructor?

Perfecting your dance technique is a given, but even more importantly, I would suggest perfecting your people and business skills, since that is what is the most crucial part of success. I work really hard to build my relationships with my students, because they are a part of my life over the course of many years. If they like me and trust me, they are more likely to hire me for private instruction, too. I also have to stay really organized to make sure I get where I need to go and have everything prepared beforehand. I also network with local musicians to build my business. We help promote each other and everybody wins.

How did you get hired for this dance instructor job?

Actually, I created this job myself. I’m an independent agent, so to speak. Normally, I rent space by the hour from studios and nightclubs, and then do all of my own business marketing and promotion. I’ve had to build it over time, of course. You definitely need to have a strong marketing plan and a marketing strategy because it takes a while to build a reputation and to get regular attendance from your dance students and a healthy class size. But if you stick with it, eventually your efforts pay off.

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