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THOSE THAT CAN’T DANCE TEACH

I wanted to open with this heading as this is the thought for many dancers and athletes leaving the professional world, or the assumption of others.  For some the choice of being a teacher is something they have always wanted to do and some do this very well without having a career behind them. Others fall into it by accident or see it as a means of nothing else.

The choice of becoming a teacher is not something that should ever be taken lightly ever. The responsibility you are bestowed with, is so immense and can impact the lives you work with in such a profound way.

For those that are teachers and have been teachers for many years, we applaud you. The work load is endless and the learning is also never ending if you desire to be better after each lesson.

Most teachers spend their free time reading or searching on the internet, looking for new ideas, studying new courses or undergoing personal and professional development classes to become the best coach and to bring out the best in each and every student they have the privilege of working with.

Choosing the path of teacher after your professional career should be looked on in this light.  It is a privilege and if you are truly grateful for all the training and dedication you have been given and hard work you have put your own body through, it can also be seen as an injustice not to pass on that knowledge you yourself have been entrusted with.

The information you have been given over your dancing life time is like a treasure and each and every dancer has their own unique treasure box of gifts that no one else has. The art form, if we are to preserve it, MUST be passed on and down to the next generation.

Everyone interprets dance in a different way and everyone has a unique gift to offer.  You are never an ex dancer, you will always be a dancer and now this will just flow on to different areas of your life.

The career paths for those that either have chosen to no longer dance professionally, or for some reason are now no longer dancing, is so vast in our industry and you are no less of value to it.  If anything, you are now more valuable than ever with what you have experienced and been through. Good or bad, the next generation of dancers coming up, need your advice and expertise.

Learning to teach and work with children and adults in our industry is never ending. With good guidance you can be taught how to teach and in time you will learn what works for you, and how you talk and communicate with your students will evolve over time.

My teaching journey started when I was 15 but really took off when I was 19 and thrown into a situation of looking after an entire studio for a year, now 20 years later I still feel I have much to learn and grateful for the position I have been given.

My message to professional dancers today is that our career can be a very short one, and having the feeling of “only teaching” is my back up should be viewed at in a totally different light.  Teaching is so much more than this.  Wanting to teach should not be about the money or to fill in time, you should really want to make a difference in our industry and are open to teaching anybody and everybody.

It must be stressed this is not a fall back career and this is not the easiest job by any means but is the most rewarding.

I recently had the privilege of listening to a dancer who had just come out of retirement into teaching and hearing how I felt a long time ago made me think so many of us must think the same.  As a professional dancer the world is very much about yourself and improving yourself as an artist.  The world of teaching is now very much a full switch of being completely about your students and how to help them.

Sometimes especially if retirement from the professional world is forced upon you through injury you can turn away from our industry, perhaps this career you dedicated your whole life to is now seen as turning against you or at least you are thinking this about the career or your body, perhaps it let you down with an injury and you could think of nothing worse than staying in this industry that now has turned its back on you.

Considering a teaching career can help in the healing process, you will find yourself in a whole different way and the outcomes can be so profound.

Everyone’s journey is different and by no means am I saying teaching is for everyone however this path is one to consider if you are hardworking, love feeling tired at the end of the day but your soul is fulfilled, then the path of sharing your knowledge to others that love dance may just be for you.

I wish everyone transitioning from performer to everyday life a successful one, if you are expecting no setbacks and great sunny days every day this is a set up for disaster, being prepared for the ups and downs is vital for your well-being. Knowing the triggers and how to find your mind in a good place is so important, helping others can heal yourself, and you will learn more about yourself along the way.

Start with small courses such as a good teacher training course. Talk to teachers in the industry and do some classes with them to help find your way at first. Ease into anything new and make sure you are ready. Be ready to say this isn’t for me if it isn’t, but make sure it’s not just because it is too hard. (which is rarely the case for dancers as we love a good challenge).

Know there is help out there for dancers not knowing what to do after a career in the industry, even if it isn’t teaching don’t be afraid to try different things.

For mentorship and more information follow @tinatheballerinamentor

TINA SPARKS