Leading With Nonverbal Cues


Depending on the type of class you teach there will be different ways to lead. For dance fitness classes I prefer to not have a mic and teach using nonverbal cues along with claps and “whoops!”.

I don’t use a mic because it is really hard to dance with a headset on.  Also, I don’t like for my dance classes to feel like a workout.  The headset definitely adds more of a workout vibe, and less of a feel-the-music-and-have-fun vibe.

Also, there are times where I get lost in the music and can not think of the words I am trying to get out, but I know that I want to signal a change coming up.  A simple holler and nonverbal cue work great and usually fit into the beat of the music better.

What is a nonverbal cue?

Instead of telling your class what to do, such as “take two steps left”, a nonverbal cue would involve pointing to the left with one hand and holding up two fingers with the other.  It shows the class a visual of what the next step is.  I prefer nonverbal cues for a couple reasons:

1) I teach facing the class – my left is their right.  In the middle of teaching a routine it would get really confusing and would be really hard to get the direction correct.

2) Saves My Voice – If I shouted every move for my class, by the end of the hour I would have no voice left.  Add that with teaching multiple class a week and I would never get my voice back.

3) Easier to Follow – When I point for my students to step to the right, they don’t have to think about it.  If I shouted the directions it take a few extra seconds to process what I said and then follow.

Do I need to make noise while teaching?

When I first starting teaching I was the quietest instructor. I was great at my nonverbal cues, but only because I was too shy to make any noise. After a few months I challenged myself to start making a few ‘whoops” and immediately noticed how much more fun the class was.

It can be really intimidating to start making noise while teaching.  My suggestion is when practicing new choreo for a song, to actually choreograph the shouts into the routine. Eventually it becomes second nature, and it really brings a lot more energy into the class.

Happy Dancing!


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