What it's Like to Teach Elementary-Age Students Ballroom Dance

If you’ve seen the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom, you know you’re never too young to start learning and loving ballroom dance. The success of such programs as American Ballroom Theater’s Dancing Classrooms, which is featured in the film, also means there’s a greater demand for teachers. Co-directors Pierre Dulaine and Yvonne Marceau say they’re constantly on the lookout for instructors like Marianne Mylod.


After only two months of training, Mylod was sent out in the field to teach 4th, 5th and 6th graders at schools in the Bronx and Brooklyn. “I see alignment changes and a light in the face,” she says of her students. “Once they get accustomed to the concept of dancing with each other, they get so into it that they fight over partners,” she adds.


In addition to teaching movement, Mylod also encourages her students to respect one another and focuses on boosting their self-esteem. Dulaine says that one of the hardest parts of the job, though, is enduring the looks of disappointment on the faces of those not selected for the Rainbow Team, a specially selected group of first-year students who compete against Rainbow Teams from other participating schools. (Every student gets to perform in the grand finale.)


Inside Scoop
Coworkers: Each classroom’s academic teacher, who stays with the students during dance class
Tools of the Trade: Compilation CDs with songs for different ballroom genres (merengue, swing, fox trot, rumba, tango and waltz and “fun dances” like the Stomp, a hip-hop-style line dance), boom box (provided by each school), ballroom shoes and skirt or dress
Dance Background: jazz, African dance and ballet
Hours: 8:30 am to 2:40 pm. Generally, Mylod teaches from four to six classes a day in one school. She can handle up to three schools per 20-class residency and goes twice a week to each school.
Pay Range: $30-$40 per 50-minute class, or $4,000 to $7,000 per year (December-June).
Aggravations: That she can’t reach every dancer. “Some students won’t let you in,” she says.
Inspirations: Making a difference in children’s lives. Mylod explains: “One fifth-grade gentleman wrote a poem that stated ‘when I dance, I forget about bad stuff that happened to me.’”
Skill Set: The ability to give children familiar imagery, the know-how to make the steps sound easy, charisma and high energy
Education: Ballroom-dance training is necessary, but a specific degree is not.
Perks: “As a ballroom teacher, I see a transformation in my students when they are no longer slumped over staring at their shoes but are standing tall, with heads held high and smiles on their faces,” she says.
Off Season: Mylod sings in a band and an a capella trio. Her work with children has inspired her to write children’s books (many of her students become characters) and to pursue a master’s degree in elementary education. (At presstime she was in the application process.)
For More: americanballroomtheater.com.

Latest Posts

Martha Graham Dance Company's Xin Ying (James Jin, courtesy Ying)

How to Dance Outside

We've all been stubbing our toes and whacking our elbows dancing in less-than-roomy indoor spots lately (hello, 5' x 8' patch of bathroom tile). If you're lucky enough to have access to a backyard or other big green space right now, you're probably itching to take your grand allegro outside, especially as the weather gets warmer. But how can you dance safely and productively in the great outdoors? We got pro tips from Mike Tyus of Jacob Jonas The Company and Xin Ying of Martha Graham Dance Company, both of whom were dancing outside long before COVID-19 hit.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Listen to Black Dancers Speaking Out Against Racial Injustice

This weekend, protests against racially-charged police brutality—spurred by the unjust killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, Sean Reed, and so many others—swept the country. Supporters, including many of members of the dance world, took to social media to share their thoughts, and express their grief.

As allies, one of the first actions we can take in this moment is to listen to and amplify the voices of Black members of our dance community. Here are some of the most powerful posts written by Black dancers.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Just a few of our special Class of 2020 digital covers

Congrats to Our 2020 Dance Grad Cover Stars!

We're thrilled to be honoring members of the great Dance Class of 2020 on special digital covers. One new cover star was revealed every day during the month of May. Take a look at all of our winners below!

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search