Gorgeous dresses and tail suits, bright lights, make up, music, movement, laughter…these are some things that may come to mind when you imagine the life of a ballroom dance teacher. While these are indeed aspects of a ballroom dance career, there is more to the story than pure enjoyment and allure.
For those of you considering dipping your toes into a career in ballroom, I thought I’d give you the whole truth about teaching ballroom dance.
Don’t expect to be home before 10 PM most weeknights, at least in your first few years of teaching. Most adults take dance lessons after work, making 3-10 PM the busiest hours at a ballroom studio.
Weekends are the other time people have free. So you’ll likely be teaching at least one day on the weekend, especially in the beginning.
THE UPSIDE: If you aren’t a morning person, ballroom work hours are fantastic! Also, over time, as you build a steady clientele of students, you can create a schedule that works best for you.
Teaching dance is not the same as waiting tables or being a receptionist. Becoming an outstanding dancer and teacher requires training. Completing a ballroom dance teacher training program is an excellent first start. Once you are teaching, you’ll want to do ongoing professional training (including getting certified). This requires time, devotion and money (approx. $4-10k per year).
THE UPSIDE: Dance training is fun! Plus it’s personally satisfying to learn new things, improve your dancing, and enjoy your accomplishments. Continuous training also comes with professional rewards such as having more to offer your students, building your reputation and allowing you to raise your prices!
The Aches and Pains
Working as a ballroom dance teacher means you’re on your feet and dancing all day. Backaches, sore feet and the occasional injury aren’t uncommon when you use your body like this. Ice packs, Advil and getting bodywork are staples in a dancer’s life.
THE UPSIDE: Unlike people with sedentary jobs, you’ll be getting plenty of exercise and reaping all the health benefits that come with that. Your posture, strength, and body awareness improves, and keeping your weight where you want is much easier. You also learn how to pace and take good care of yourself, as well as how to prevent injuries—skills that will serve you lifelong.
I don’t know anyone who’s decided to go into the ballroom dance business for the money. You can make a decent living (and even an excellent one if you put the work in). But if your goal is to own many homes in exotic countries, you can count out a career in ballroom dance!
THE UPSIDE: Ballroom dance has many opportunities for growth and financial reward. For example, teachers can get well-paying performance gigs, win “Top Teacher” at competitions (a $2-10k award), and, as an independent teacher, take home the lion’s share of student lesson fees (earning $45-90+ per hour).
There are also management opportunities and the potential to open your own dance studio. And while joy doesn’t exactly pay the bills, enjoying your job goes a long way toward your happiness in life!
Did I forget any important realities of a ballroom dance career?
Let me know in the comments!