Feb
27
2014
TIPS FOR FINDING & HIRING QUALIFIED DANCE TEACHERS
Written by Michael J. Clark

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Finding qualified and professional dance teachers is a major challenge, especially for studios located outside of metropolitan areas.  The process of hiring a well trained staff is a time consuming task, but once you find the right candidates for your studio it will be time well spent. This guide will help make sure you get the hire right the first time, saving you valuable time and the headache of firing and rehiring. Let’s walk through the process of finding a great dance teacher.

FINDING APPLICANTS

1.  Most Universities have a dance program.  Email a message or a flyer to the department and have it posted to the students.  Graduates’ knowledge will be up to date in terms of content and many must complete a pedagogy course. They are generally hungry for work, energetic, and full of passion.  We posted an example flyer in our files.

2.  Post at any performance spaces in your area, such as a theater or outdoor venue.  Many choreographers and teachers will be in contact with local arts personnel, from local theaters to professional theaters.  Calling the space and requesting information on dancers, dance teachers, and choreographers will lead you to someone involved and passionate about the arts.

3.  Post an ad on Craigslist.  While Craigslist gets a bad rap, many job  seekers check Craigslist on a daily basis. 

4.  If you are close to a  large city, post you listing with dance companies or shows.  Most professional dancers will be willing to drive about two hours to teach dance at studios if you can provide them with three to six hours of work per drive.  Many major cities have ballet, modern, jazz, and hip hop companies or groups which perform professionally, but these talented dancers need other jobs to get by.  These professionals will be delighted to spread their knowledge to your studio.

PRE SCREENING PHONE INTERVIEW

Before you even begin to interview candidates, you should have a few preliminary questions answered and ask for a resume.  In your ad or email, ask the candidates to respond to a few short questions--here are a few ideas:

  1. Why would you like this job?
  2. How do you feel about working with (insert age range of children here)?
  3. What is the favorite performance you have ever danced?
  4. Have you taught before?  Where? Can I call that studio? Why or why not?
  5. Why are you leaving your current studio?

Read each applicant's answers.  If you like their answers review their resume. If the resume and question answers are all in line, contact them to schedule an interview in person.

IN PERSON  QUESTIONS

This may be the most important part of your process. Asking the correct questions will help you understand your candidate, what they’re passionate about, and how they behave as people. We have provided a PDF with all of the questions you’ll need, which you can download here. A few sample questions are below.  (Sometimes it pays to be tricky).

QUESTION EXAMPLES

DOWNLOADABLE INTEVIEW QUESTIONNAIRE

Download1. Who is your favorite teacher and why? (This will tell you who they would like to emulate)

2. How long do you plan to live in the area? (This will help you assess how long they can teach for you)

3.  How would you respond if a student called you a bad name? (If they do not answer this with a proper, caring response, they probably are not the right fit)

4. How would you handle a “crazy rude dance mom” inappropriately screaming in your face? (You are attempting to see how they would handle a bad situation; if their answer contains any amount of misconduct or rudeness, they are probably not a good candidate)

5.   What is your biggest goal in the next five years? (Again, this will help you assess where they are headed)

EVALUATE THEIR TEACHING ABILITY

A perfect way to do this would be to ask them to demonstrate dance or position corrections.  If you are able, demonstrate a move in the genre you are considering them for, correctly and then incorrectly.  See if they can catch your error and evaluate how they correct you. Do three corrections: one easy, one medium, and one hard.  Here is a ballet example:

1.  Do a tendu correctly.  Then do a tendu with a sickled foot.  This should be an easy correction. (The foot should rotate outward just like the hips)

2.  Do a plié in first correctly.  Then do a plié in first turning in slightly while you bend your knees. This correction is medium difficulty. (Turn out should be constantly maintained whether the knees are bent or straight)

3.  Stand in first position with correct alignment. Now stand in first position with your ribs slightly out and your back slightly too arched. This is a difficult correction (they should advise you to pull your ribs in and not to arch your back, however they should not over correct you; many over correct by telling students to completely get rid of the curve in their lower back. Recent science shows this is damaging to the body when practiced overtime.)

By the end of this interview you should have a very good feel for how the candidate will perform in your studio.

REFERENCES

Call two to three references based on what the candidate is able to provide.  Ideas for references include:

1.)    Parent Reference

2.)    Teacher or Coworker Reference

3.)    Past Employer Reference

GUEST TEACHING

After the interview process, it is important to see the teacher in action.  Express your interest to the candidate and tell them you want to do a trial class.  Studios generally pay the trial class the same or a slightly lower rate than a full time teacher. Have them teach one of your current classes.  As opposed to staying and watching the entire class, feel free to move in and out from the studio so that they feel less pressured.  You will be able to assess how they are working as you already know the challenges the class may pose.

HIRING

If you enjoy their teaching style and they fit your studio’s mission, you can sign them on to your faculty!  Discuss how long they wish to stay with your studio and consider making it part of a teaching contract.