Guest Blog Contributor JoAna Marie Henigan
I have spent the past two weeks at Modern Motion Dance School as an intern guest teaching
classes, observing other teachers teach, and helping with other tasks around the studio. I had
no idea what to expect before my internship began. I received very few details from my
application and a few general instructions from Ginger, the studio’s Executive Director. I came in
on my first day with a few short choreography combinations in my back pocket and hope that I
would learn more as the two weeks continued. My expectations were exceeded.
When I walked into Modern Motion Dance School I was welcomed with open arms. I would easily call
it the healthiest studio environment that I had ever walked into. While observing classes, it was
instantly clear that the teachers’ mission was to make the dancers feel confident and love their
craft, no matter what that looks like. There was no judgment, only encouragement. I soon
realized it was a place where everyone and anyone was welcomed to dance.
For my first task, I was told I would be teaching a combination for a teen contemporary class.
So, I loosely prepared a combination the day of and headed over to the studio. When I arrived
the teacher of the contemporary class asked if I wanted to teach the entire class or just the
combination. Frozen in fear I panicked and explained that I had only prepared a combination. I
know that this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing- it was what I was told to do. But from then on, I
learned it’s better to be over prepared.
I experimented with different ways to prepare to teach dance classes. I have taught dance
before at my hometown studio. However, all of the kids I thought knew me and I generally knew
their abilities and how to work with them. It was new to me to work with totally new children that I
didn’t know or without knowing their limitations. I knew I had to keep a range of abilities in mind
for the next classes I was asked to instruct. So, I prepared full classes for each time I was told to
come in. I became familiar with the studio’s schedule and the age range of the dancers I would
be teaching. With that in mind, whenever I were to teach a class I wanted to come in with
options so modifications were available to fit the needs of each dancer. Instead of loosely
preparing a combination, I began to prepare combinations with modification options, so I could
teach a version of the choreography that the children felt comfortable dancing. Additionally,
when a teacher asked me to teach the entire class, I would have a general class prepared, but I
would ask the teacher what they would do in a typical class to have a feel for their abilities and I
could adjust my plans if needed.
I learned so many things within my two weeks of teaching at Modern Motion. I
will admit- I panicked a bit with such little information in the beginning. However, I now
appreciate being completely thrown into the job. I was able to develop my own way of preparing
and teaching classes, so I appreciated the little guidance and instruction given to me. I now
know how to effectively prepare to teach dance classes for a range of ages and abilities.
You can learn more about JoAna and what its like being a dance major at Mason Gross School of the Arts in her recent interview on Chat. Dance. Love.
Modern Motion Dance School