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Jazz - Professionals
Plus size, no experience,and wanting to teach
By Meshia757 Comments: 18, member since Wed Oct 15, 2008
On Sun May 18, 2014 10:12 PM
Locked by hummingbird (128773) on 2014-05-19 21:16:05 This has also been posted in the Support forum.

I am 21 years old and I want to be a dance teacher/choreographer. I am contacting you today, not looking for employment, but looking for advice. I want to teach dance with everything in my being but I have no idea where to start. I have tried minoring in dance, which gives me basic fundamentals but it doesn�t quite give you the experience you need. Learning dance and teaching it are two completely different things. Before I go on I believe you should know my greatest setbacks with this dream, I am morbidly obese and currently suffer from Joint disease. This hinders me from doing the one thing I love to do most. I am not sure what Studios would say to someone who wants to teach dance but is unable to physically show students what they need to do. I also have not been able to accelerate in my dance technique because of these two issues although I have 16 years of training. I know you hear 16 years and think I should be on a professional stage but for me that is not the case and I want to prevent this situation from happening to other dancers who may be getting behind because of their weight.
I am writing you today for advice. Where do I start? What can I do to make my dream come true? Where can I go to make some students career start? Should I be assisting somewhere? Should I just start interviewing? I�m not sure what my options are. Please help me live my dream.

2 Replies to Plus size, no experience,and wanting to teach

re: Plus size, no experience,and wanting to teach
By DaDancingPsych Comments: 3092, member since Wed Dec 18, 2002
On Mon May 19, 2014 07:26 AM
I think you are asking a two part question. What do you need to do education wise to become a dance teacher? You mention 16 years of training; what was that training like? You need to be fully developed as a dancer before learning to be a teacher. Your post doesn’t seem too confident with that, so that may be the place to start. After that, I would recommend finding a good dance pedagogy program. Some colleges are focused on that, but you could also obtain these skills through teacher certification programs or working as an assistant under an experienced teacher. You seem to have a good grasp of the fact that it’s more than just dancing, so that’s a good start!

Your health is a separate issue. While I have seen some amazing teachers who are less capable of demonstrating movement, I think that most schools are going to anticipate that you are able to demonstrate to a certain extent. I would be lieing if I did not say that I think that this really could hold you back. Have you been in touch with a doctor concerning your health? I have no doubt that you are aware of the many issues that can come with morbid obesity and it really can hold you back no matter what your career path. I would highly recommend that you speak to your physician and begin taking steps towards better health.

Food for thought (take it or leave it). I was recently in a dance fitness class and while I love to dance, working out is something I do out of necessity. The instructor leading our class was beautiful, had an unbelievable body that belonged on a fitness magazine cover. She was trying to cheer the class on to do another reputation. She was telling us that we could all have a “bikini body” and that we deserved it. I tried not to laugh out loud. There was something in the way that she was trying to be inspiring that I knew that she had never struggled with weight or health issues (and how awesome for her!) But personally, what inspires me are people who have struggled and are working to overcome. Maybe that’s you. Food for thought.
re: Plus size, no experience,and wanting to teach (karma: 1)
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6817, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Mon May 19, 2014 10:47 AM
First of all, I commend you for hanging onto your dream. My advice is going to seem a bit harsh, and I don't mean it to, but I want to say upfront that I admire your determination and believe that you will succeed.

Let start at the beginning...

Your own health.

If you have joint problems your excess weight is causing damage to these very important structures. Before you even consider entering a teacher training program (which I recommend and well address later...)you need to get your own health under control. You can seriously damage yourself if you aren't careful, and just saying "I can't because...." isn't acceptable for a teacher.

My best recommendation to this end would be to enroll in a water fitness program. It will help you build strength and stamina without damage to your joints. Once you've been at this for a few months, I'd add yoga and then Pilates. These three activities will make a world of difference in getting you on track to regain your health. As soon as you are able, take beginner ballet, no matter what level you feel you should be at after 16 years of class.

You are only 21 years old. If you embrace lifestyle changes that will improve your quality of life you can have a long and healthy life (all other things being equal, of course...) However, if you accept morbid obesity as your lot and do not overcome this, you are choosing a lifetime of health consequences that are preventable.

As to your desire to teach jazz... If you are morbidly obese, it would be dangerous for you to leap, jump, or even sustain high aerobic activity for an hour, which you need to do to teach. I know you want to hear that because you have 16 years of knowledge in your head you can teach by just talking about dancing, but sadly, you can't. (and for the life of me I don't know how Abby Lee Miller does it.....)

I am older than many teachers. I can't jump as high as I once could and if I turn a clean double I'm satisfied. I also only teach recreational dancers... children. When I have a student who is ready to learn something I can't demonstrate myself, I hire someone who can do the job. ALWAYS..... My pointe class has a wonderful 20 something "assistant" who demonstrates EVERYTHING, my level 3 Jazz class was always taught by 3rd or 4th year University students. No mater how much knowledge is in your head, most kids learn by watching and imitating. It's show business, not tell business.

That said, you are a perfect person to embark on this journey with the goal of being a great example to others. It may take you two years of lifestyle changes to attain your ultimate goal but very. single. day. of that two years will be better than the day before. And you'll still be a very young woman at 23.

Once you know you will be able to participate fully in a teacher training and certification program, I would recommend you enroll in a nationally recognized program like DEA or DMA. Typically you will need to take class from 8 AM until 6 PM every day for a week as you work through the curriculum for 5 subject areas, most classes being about 90 minutes each. At the end of the week, there is testing, and at the upper levels, you will need to prepare two classes and teach them to other dance professionals as well as write a term paper. I am sure that with 16 years of experience you can handle the book work but you owe it to yourself to approach this seriously and prepare to participate fully. At the age of 23 or 24, if you regain your health and fitness, I'm sure it will be a worth while experience.

With your passionate desire, I KNOW you can do this. However, I urge you to be patient with yourself and realize that this is the first step in a long journey but bear in mind that college is 4 years so perhaps it isn't all that long.

I wish you the very best.

Keep On Dancing*

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